New mothers go into parenting expecting some surprises but believe for the most part they will be prepared for what life with a child will be like. Like me, most moms eventually realize there are going to be moments in their child’s life that will blow everything they were prepared for out of the water. These are the 10 moments I was not prepared for as a mother.
1. How bad my heart would break when he got his shots.
As a mother, we are meant to keep our children from being hurt. So for me to take him to the doctor knowing that he was going to get stuck with a needle 1-4 times was horrible. While I was pregnant I never really thought much about him having to be vaccinated. In fact I never really let it cross my mind. Then the first doctor’s appointment that he needed his vaccines arrived and I remember arriving feeling like ok this won’t be so bad. We went through the check up and then it became time for his shots. I help him and he looked up at me, snuggled in and smiled. Then it happened. The nurse walked up and stuck him right in the thigh. The look of fear, and pain ran across my innocent babies face and I broke down. He started to calm down only to be stuck again in the other leg and let the cry. For those of you who have been through this experience you know what I am talking about. Not the: I want mommy cry, the how could you let this happen scream as loud as possible my world is not happy ugly cry. Oh you thought I was only talking about monkey man crying no that would be me crying as well that my baby is hurting. Yeah. If you can make it through all your child’s vaccines without ever feeling sorry or spilling a tear I am truly impressed.
I am not talking about a runny nose or a cough. I am talking about being hospitalized because he was so sick that he was lethargic and not drinking his milk any more sick. Monkey Man was 5 months old Thanksgiving week of 2010 and had to be hospitalized. If I though having vaccines were bad, I was in for something else. I had to hold monkey man down while the nurses proceeded to put a catheter in him and get a urine sample, try to find a vein 5x for his IV, Take blood samples, and put in a new catheter after he pulled his out. I was down the hall listening to him scream as 5 nurses and the doctor held him down and did a spinal tap. I sat by his hospital crib for 5 days while he continued to lose weight and slowly get better. It was the toughest week of my life.
We were at my parents’ house in May 2011. Monkey man pulled up on the couch in front of my parent’s 12 year old dog startling him while he slept. The dog attacked, latching on to monkey man’s face and preceding to shake him until I got to the couch to unlatch his jaw from monkey man’s face. We were lucky that the dog missed his eye entirely but monkey man still has 3 scars to this day on his face. He was placed on heavy antibiotics to prevent infection. I have since never trusted any dog close to monkey man including our now 7 year old pug and 8 month old yorkie.
4. My son’s first steps.
Monkey man began walking at his 1st birthday party. To be honest I was supper excited. About a month later monkey man began running! This was not a good thing! Now he was on the move and he was fast! I thought life would get easier when he started walking but I quickly learned that danger just came faster. He was able to get into more. He was able to disappear in seconds instead of minutes. He was on the move and he sure wasn’t going to slow down or stop anytime soon.
5. Sharing my bed almost nightly.
Now I expected to have monkey man in our bed every once in a while but once in a while became a lot of the time and a lot of the time became nightly. Once monkey man was used to being in our bed it was almost impossible to get him out. To be honest, I don’t blame him for wanting to be with us. Who wants to sleep alone? The world is such a scary place for little ones and then you go tuck them in to their own bed by themselves while you go share a bed with your spouse? Well for us it is not just sharing the bed. It has become monkey man gets 2/3rds of the bed and we get to share a 3rd. Who knew such a tiny person could take up so much room?
6. Waking up 5+ times a night.
I always thought that the baby would be the one to wake me. I cannot tell you how many times as a new mother I got up to check that he was breathing. To this day I still check that he is breathing. Now for us, being woken up is even more often. Monkey man has a sleeping disorder which ever since he was born his body and brain believe it only needs 4-6 hours of sleep. So here I was as this new mother, told that newborns don’t sleep. I thought this was normal. I learned my 3rd day in the hospital after having him that it wasn’t. Every nurse told us that our son was so alert for being a newborn. Then on the 3rd day of our stay, our nurse told us she was going to take him for a few hours and let us sleep. We passed out only to wake up 4 hours later and learn that our son never closed his eyes. She told us that definitely was not normal for a newborn. Over the years we have finally got answers from the doctors that he will eventually grow out of it. Now with his new medications he is finally sleeping 8 hours a night and this mama is so happy to have the extra 2 hours!
7. First day of school.
I took monkey man to his first day of preschool last year. I had been prepared for him to cry, to cling to me, or to not want me to leave. What I wasn’t expecting was to walk into the room, sign him in and have him take off and never look back. I yelled goodbye and was ignored, I asked for a hug or a kiss, and was ignored. I watched him go off and color and not look for me. To talk to the teacher and smile and laugh. I went to my car and cried thinking he doesn’t need or want me. When I returned at the end of class 3 hours later I had to carry him out of the class. He didn’t want to leave. I took him to the car and buckled him in and heard him beg to go back. That day it crushed me but now I am so grateful to have a child who loves school. He truly does love school and I am so grateful. I look forward to my 3 hour break 3 days a week.
8. Having monkey man say no one wanted to be his friend/ play with him.
Last year after monkey man missing a few days of school while we tried to figure out what was going on with him, I picked him up from school and listened to him cry in the back seat that he never wanted to go back. My sweet boy who loved school never wanted to return. As I listened be began to tell me that his friends had made new friends in his absence and he was no longer welcome in their game. His poor heart was devastated. My heart broke with his. I never thought that my child would be the one to get left out. This problem only lasted the one day, he was included when he returned to school but I will never forget how badly it hurt for him to feel left out and I do my best to encourage him never to leave any one out.
9. Making great friends out of preschool parents.
I spent the first 6 months of preschool rushing in with monkey man to drop him off and get out of there and rushing out after picking him up. I never stopped to talk to the other parents. I never let monkey man continue to play after class. Then one day I let him go off and play tag. I chatted with a few of the other parents and we all set up a play date for the kids. Those two other moms and the one dad are now the people I turn to for advice first. My son always has someone to play with. I always have someone to talk to as I wait and I know that if I am running late I could trust one of them with my child. I have someone else to do volunteer hours with. I have a group with kids the same age as mine. I wish I had taken the time earlier to get to know the other parents.
10. How big of a difference a cuddle can make.
Meltdowns are a very common thing when you have a 2, 3, or 4 year old. You will feel yourself start to get fed up. You will feel them start to spin out of control. When this happens I often fail to stop and calm down the escalating situation. The few times I have I have been amazed how quickly a cuddle can calm both me and him. It brings me back to focusing on what the real problem is. It shows him that I still love him and still care.
Bonus 11: I never realized how quickly time would go.
Everyone always tells you that they grow fast. But as a new mother you do not realize that they don’t mean freeway speed fast. They mean the speed of light fast. I feel like the years have flown past. I have so many regrets that I did not stop to play enough, focus on him enough, or take the time to enjoy when he wanted to be held, be cuddled, or played with. I did not stop what I was doing enough to spend time with him. I have lost those precious moments and they will never return because they grow fast. So I challenge you, the next time your little one asks you to do something with them, drop everything you are doing and put everything you have into what they want. Give it your all and see how they light up.
What were you not prepared for?