Despite what they promise, all the parenting books and prenatal classes in the world can’t prepare you for what it takes to be a parent. Likewise, ask any mother about pregnancy, childbirth or parenting and you’ll probably get the standard stories about difficult third trimesters, the magical moment when you set eyes on your baby for the first time, and the challenges of the terrible twos. But what don’t they tell you? We asked JustKidding mothers what surprised them the most about motherhood. Read on for their stories.
“The term morning sickness is completely misleading as I had morning, noon and night sickness! I wish someone had warned me in advance and then it wouldn’t have been such a shock.”
Karen, 38, mum of two.
Nesting is a real thing
“When people used to talk about nesting, I thought it was an old wives’ tale, but it’s a very real instinct. When I was pregnant I got a distinctive urge to clean, tidy and organise everything around me. Everything in the nursery had a particular spot and woe betide anyone who messed with my drawers of colour-coded (Yes! Colour-coded) baby grows.”
Annemarie, 36, mum of three.
Every movement matters
“Nothing can prepare you for the rush of love and relief you feel when your baby kicks. I was very anxious throughout the early part of my pregnancy, but as soon as my baby kicked for the first time I felt relaxed. No matter how uncomfortable, tired or irritable I got during pregnancy, feeling my little girl jab me in the ribs gave me an enormous sense of comfort.”
Farzana, 32, mum of one.
The toilet breaks
“For most of my pregnancy my baby boy was playing havoc with my bladder. I’d heard that being pregnant can make you go to the toilet more often but no one tells you that you could be going to the toilet every fifteen minutes. Worse still, you never actually feel empty, so in the middle of the night you’ll sit back down on your bed and then, eh-oh, time to go again.”
Nadia, 36, mum of one.
The weight doesn’t instantly drop off
“Nobody tells you that you’ll leave the hospital still looking five months pregnant. Before my first son was born I thought I would give birth and then instantly ping back into shape. I even took a pair of skinny jeans in my hospital bag so that I’d have a cute little outfit to leave the hospital in. Instead, I left in a pair of my husband’s sweat pants… It was a week before my tummy started to shrink and a good few months before I was able to squeeze back into my skinny jeans.”
Joanna, 40, mum of three.
It’s not always painful
“I was expecting the birth to be horrendous, but after being given an epidural I didn’t feel a thing. In fact, I was reading magazines and chatting to my husband during my contractions and the only reason I knew I was having them was because I could see them on the monitor next to my bed.”
Catherine, 33, mum of one.
They love you immediately
“Everyone talks about the rush of love you feel as soon as you see your baby, but what about the other way round? When my daughter was born the midwife laid her on my chest and she stared up at me with this look in her eyes as if to say, ‘You’re my mummy’. It was an amazing moment of love and bonding on both sides.”
Aishling, 28, mum of one.
Breastfeeding might hurt
“Breastfeeding is a really powerful way to bond with your baby. It can also hurt like crazy. Even if you’ve got it all straight in your head and your baby is latched on correctly, it can still be tear inducing in the early days. Thankfully the sensation passes fairly quickly.”
Tania, 44, mum of two.
“Ever wondered why new mums are always late? I did. Then I had my son. Babies seem to have an uncanny ability to provide an explosive bowel movement at the very moment you need to leave the house. It’s like they’re programmed to mess up your schedule. ”
Genevieve, 28, mum of one.
You won’t have milk immediately
“It took four days for my milk to come in and I couldn’t believe my daughter could be sated on the tiny amount of colostrum she was getting from the breast. It is produced in teaspoonfuls, but believe it or not, that’s enough for their tiny tummies.”
Eve-Alexandra, 36, mum of one.
“Whenever I used to see toddler tantrums in public I used to think, ‘surely the parents can do something to control that child’. Then I had my own kids and realised that no matter how much you think they’ll listen to you, when the red mist descends, there’s no stopping them.”
Fatima, 32, mum of two.
Your child is perfect (to you!)
“In my head my kids are the absolute best at everything. They are the sweetest, cutest, most polite children around. I’m aware that not everyone sees them like this, but to me they are perfect.”
Brittany, 40, mum of three.