Regardless of how much you plan, having a baby brings surprises. This is true even if you read all of the popular parenting books, seek sage advice from your own parents, and scour the internet for gems of wisdom. You'll still be shocked by the ways in which babies can change your life.
With this in mind, we'll describe some of the biggest surprises in store for new moms and dads. If you're having your second, third, or fourth child, what follows will be a reminder of the unpredictable journey of being a parent. If you're having your first baby, what you're about to read merely scrapes the surface.
#1 - Time Will Slip Through Your Fingers
You knew upfront that taking care of an infant would require a lot of time. But somewhere in the back of your mind, you half-convinced yourself you'd be able to handle the job with ease. You may even have pictured yourself spending time with friends, taking your little one to the park, and enjoying a latte and book during the afternoons.
Most new moms find that time quickly becomes a precious commodity following childbirth. The luxury of sleeping in becomes a distant memory, of course, but even the simple task of leaving the house on time becomes problematic. The best way to cope is to have a detailed plan for each day.
#2 - You'll Discover New Reserves Of Strength
Ask new mothers if they could have imagined years ago having the strength to chase kids day after day and the answer would be a resounding "no." Add to that the fact many parents sleep very little and eat whenever they can, and it becomes clear how well they've adapted.
From the moment you start caring for your baby, you'll learn that you have untapped reserves of strength. Those reserves will help you rise to the occasion, regardless of the challenges. In fact, once your little one has graduated to toddler status, you'll look back and wonder how you managed to do so well.
#3 - Relationships With Friends Will Shift
Immediately after childbirth, you'll notice changes in your friendships. Some who you may have considered closer than family will drift away as your schedule becomes consumed with your baby. Others who once operated on the fringe of your social network may drift closer to fill the space.
The changes are always unpredictable and a little sobering. Be prepared. Also, realize that nothing is permanent. The friends with whom you slowly lose contact may reappear a few years down the road when you're able to devote time to the relationship again. Meanwhile, you'll establish rewarding ties with others who have small children, and can relate to the unique challenges of parenthood.
#4 - You'll Want To Abandon Your Role As A Parent
New moms seldom think they'll want to take a break from being a parent. In fact, many would find such a thought unfathomable... for awhile. In reality, a large percentage of moms find that the constant crying, feeding, fussiness, and lack of sleep wears on them. Many of them eventually reach a point where they would like to abandon their role as mother for awhile.
This is a normal, lonely feeling that is rarely discussed. Making matters worse, most women feel guilty if they entertain such thoughts, believing they should want to be near their babies around the clock. Given the isolation and monotony involved with caring for an infant, this expectation may be unrealistic. Realize you may feel this way, despite the intense love you have for your little one. Speak to others about your feelings to avoid bottling it up inside.
Parenting is filled with surprises. There's no way to prepare for all of them. Instead, be willing to accept the challenges as they emerge, and enjoy growing from the experience.