Before the Little was born I spent a lot of time imagining what motherhood would be like. Yes, I am probably guilty of idyllic fantasizing reality could never possibly live up to, but I am surprised at how many things I was off the mark in imagining. Particularly because I thought that's how babies are, and expected my baby to be like "babies" in general. Those of you who already have babies are probably snorting smugly to yourselves. Those of you who don't have babies are probably thinking (like I did), yes, but not MY baby! Here are just a few things that are nowhere near how I imagined they would be:
1. The Dream: taking long walks around the neighborhood with the baby in the stroller. Regardless of what else I have accomplished during the day, at least I have gotten out of the house for some sunshine, fresh air and exercise.
The Reality: my baby doesn't like her stroller very much. Ten or fifteen minutes max and then she wants out. We rarely go on walks.
2. The Dream: heading over to the mall downtown, or to Whole Foods, or to browse in a bookstore with the baby. Carrying her in the sling or the Ergo as we mosey around taking in the sights and checking things out.
The Reality: my baby screams her head off whenever she's in the car seat for more than 10 minutes, so solo car trips are out. Even if I'm in the back entertaining her while someone else drives, we can only tack on an extra five minutes to that. My baby will ride in the Ergo... sometimes. And you have to keep moving unless she is asleep, so no browsing, only walking! If she is asleep and you stop moving, she will awaken and demand to get out of her confinement.
3. The Dream: cradling my baby and rocking her in the rocking chair.
The Reality: my baby doesn't like to be cradled, she likes to be up on the shoulder. And rocking? In the chair?! Where you can sit down and rest your weary, sleep-deprived bones? Hahaha. Ha. No, you have to be up walking around, and bouncing, and patting. And if you deign to sit down after she falls asleep, your rest will be short my friend.
4. The Dream: my baby will take lots of naps and will fall asleep easily when she's tired. While she's napping I will have time to read, blog, shower or make a sandwich.
The Reality: after the initial couple weeks of newborn sleep, my baby takes cat naps lasting 20 minutes to 1 hour several times a day. In order for this to happen, you have to walk, bounce, pat and hum. Sometimes even if you do that for 30 minutes, she will wake 10 minutes after you lay her down. If you try to do anything productive, it will virtually guarantee she will sleep for only 10 minutes.
5. The Dream: my baby will sleep longer and longer stretches at night, and by 3 months she will be sleeping at least 5 or 6 hours. I will get up once or twice a night to nurse her.
The Reality: my baby has slept 5 hours fewer than 5 times in her life. Usually she sleeps 3, 2 or 1 hour stretches throughout the night. I nurse 4-6 times in a 12 hour stretch. Not counting the first session or the last. Baby sleep does not progress in a linear fashion, but changes all the time (like everything else).
6. The Dream: my baby will sit in her bouncy seat, or on her play mat and bat at toys and coo and amuse herself for stretches of time.
The Reality: my baby doesn't particularly like her bouncy seat (see also: stroller, car seat) and she gets overstimulated easily. She wants to be held constantly and amused by humans.
7. The Dream: my baby will sleep in her crib in her own room (and nap there too).
The Reality: my baby wants to be held constantly and even in her sleep. Plus, I worry too much if she's not nearby and I can see what she's up to and that she's still breathing.
8. The Dream: my husband will give the baby a bottle once in a while so I can get some extra sleep, or go somewhere without her.
The Reality: my baby doesn't take a bottle, and most likely wouldn't accept not nursing at night even if she did.