The first year of being a mama is one of the hardest years there are. I can vouch as a mom who has parented every age, from newborn to 20 now, that newborns are the longest nights and the hardest days. Even though, in retrospect, the problems and issues just get harder to handle and more exhausting to live through, that first year is a lot of soul searching, growing and learning.
The first year of being a mother is pretty much like your first year of college.
That is, if you look at it in a positive manner. In a negative manner, it’s like a year of war. But for all purposes of my recollection of what college was like, the first year of momming is just like the freshman year of university. How, you ask? Well let me tell you.
- What is sleep? Remember that first set of midterms, when you were running on two, maybe three hours of sleep? When you drank coffee instead of eating food because you needed the caffeine so desperately? I like to refer to that as a good nights sleep now. Those sleepless nights are the best way to prep for newborns.
- There are a lot of unhealthy meals. Ramen. Ice cream from the carton. Mac and cheese. If it’s a meal that can be made in under five minutes and eaten with a single hand, you will eat plenty of it. Walking to class three minutes after it begins or walking a baby around as you desperately try to get them to stop crying? The world may never know what led to that cup of Ramen.
- You will cry over a delicious home cooked meal. These are far and few between when you live in the dorms. They are also far and few between when you have a newborn. If someone surprises you with one, you will have tears in your eyes. Accept them graciously. Compliment the chef in hopes you get another. Pro tip? If anyone asks how they can help, tell them you would love a healthy, home cooked meal.
- Nakedness becomes a norm. And I don”t even mean in a sexy way. You’ll forget pants before a shower, you’re roommate will walk in while you’re changing. College allowed me to be flashed by many people. Parenthood also allowed that. Heck, I had a cesarean. A team of ten nurses, doctors, midwives, everyone saw me sprawled out, naked as a newborn baby before the kid was even earth side.
- Also, hickeys? Everywhere. I didn’t really experience this part of university; I was in a long distance relationship for the first half of my freshman year. But I heard enough stories to know hickeys are pretty normal for college students. They’re also normal for nursing moms. My son has left four from trying to latch and missing. I can’t tell you how many ties I’ve looked down at my arm and realized there’s a bruise from him sucking it while I tried to do the laundry.
- There’s poop places you never thought it could be. Maybe this doesn’t exist in private schools, but my state school? Poop was everywhere. People pooped in the sinks, they missed the toilets(how are you accepted into college and can’t go in a toilet?!), once someone even smeared it on the walls. That’s a great precursor for when you have kids. I had some smeared on the wall just the other day.
- And puke. So much puke. I don’t think this one even has to be elaborated on.
- Screaming at all hours of the day. And night. And you have no idea why the screaming is happening, but it’s probably coming out of a being who is starving. You will begin to beg the screaming being to please, just don’t yell, for one hour. It never works. Submit to the truth that it will never be quiet again.
- You will start off looking amazing…and then you will give up, wear sweatpants daily, and gain fifteen pounds. Or maybe this was just me?
- You’re about 90% sure the people who surround you are incapable of caring for themselves. When you have a baby? That’s 100% true. When you’re living in a college dorm? It’s correct about 50% of the time.
- You’ll watch more television than you probably should. I’ve watched three series of television shows in the month since I had Bear. Again, what is sleep?
- Caffeine is your best friend. If you want to doubt this, recheck number one. Caffeine will keep you moving.
- You will be scared shitless. Excuse the French, but there’s no clearer way for me to state this one. You have no idea what you’re doing. Even if you think you know what you’re doing, you have no idea. You’re entering a whole new world with challenges you’ve never faced before. It’s totally okay to be terrified. It’s okay to question everything you’re doing, it’s okay to change your mind about how you want to do this crazy journey in life, and sometimes, your mom or mentor does know best.
- But it will be so worth it. Coming from a woman who left school half way through her freshman year, from a woman who struggled immensely her first year with a newborn, this time will be so worth it. The poop, the puke, the screams? Those are minor details in what will become a life changing and amazing experience. Even if it’s not a good one, it will be a life changing one.