4/27/2005

File it under...

Well, Heather's post a while ago about howwhiny her husband gets when he's sick got me thinking about all the things I had in the file entitled: Things I Did Not Know When I Got Married. Here are a few examples: If you put an egg in water, and turn it on, and boil it, in the hopes of having a hard boiled egg, and then forget that you wanted a hard boiled egg, the water will eventually boil dry and the egg will explode. Just because you balance your checkbook on a regular basis does not mean that your husband does. Separate accounts and separate bills may be the answer to avoiding many arguments. If you must combine accounts (which happened when I stopped working), Quicken and on-line banking are a god-send. Use them, and use them wisely. Being married really IS way better than being single, but occasionally you will long for your single life, and will remember it as being way more glamorous than it actually was. If you are the first of your friends to get married, they will still be your friends, but for the first year of your marriage, they will treat you like someone else has landed on earth and taken over your body. For the first few months of your marriage, they will avoid you entirely, because they are worried that they might interrupt something they don't want to think about. When people call you by your new last name for the first little while, you will look around wondering where your mother-in-law is. You really do go through an identity crisis with the name change. Things I Did Not Know When I Had a Baby: Peeing is a major event after delivery. As well it should be. Motherhood is IMMEDIATE. I know this sounds silly, logically you know that of course it's immediate, but when they put that baby on your chest 5 seconds after it's delivered - all of a sudden, your life as you know it is over. There is absolutely NO rest time after delivery to start feeling like yourself again before motherhood has become your life. Your baby is a stranger to you. You do not know this child, even though you thought you would, what with the pregnancy and all. Breast-feeding is hard. It's painful. So is weaning. People care far less about you than you thought. All of a sudden, nobody wants to visit YOU, they just want to see the baby. Breast milk, when it has been spit up and stuck in your baby's neck folds for hours on end, does not smell good. And it is dang hard to get that stuff out of your baby's neck. I believe there is a secret conspiracy to conceal the fact that while your baby is breast-feeding, what he's REALLY doing is sucking away all your brain cells. That's why they say breast-fed kids are smarter, and it's why motherhood makes you stupid. I have a growing number of files:Things I Did Not Know Until I Had a Toddler, Things I Did Not Know Until I Had More Than One Child, Things I Did Not Know Until I Had a School-Age Child, and I can list many, many things under them. I know the number of files will continue to grow as my kids do, and all I can say is: Heaven help my children, because what I don't know can fill many, many books.

16 Comments:

Blogger Kristine said...

Re: losing brain cells, aka "mommy brain," I have a friend who says "they tell you it's the placenta, and you don't need it anymore, but really, it's half your brain and ALL of your self-esteem..."

4/27/2005 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

LOL, I thought I might never get my brain back. It did come back, well, 95% of it, but it took at least a year...maybe more.
That is one of the hardest thing I had to deal with about becoming a mother. Pregnancy and having a baby really affected my memory and ability to think, etc.
It TOTALLY made me less effective at my job. And that is something no one really talks about....
It kind of makes me a little more understanding of the males and females of our male dominated history. Can we really blame men for thinking woman were less intelligent when, in fact, sometimes women were?
Maybe I'm a traitor to womankind for saying it, but with PMS, pregnancy and post partum, there are times that I am NOT emotionally stable. That isn't as upsetting, though, as knowing that while I may have more wisdom and experience now, I do not have the mental sharpness that I had before children.
Although, one thing I read said that 6 year olds should beat adults at memory because they have less information cluttering up their minds....so men in some ways lose some sharpness too......maybe?

4/27/2005 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

I remember being amazed that people expected me to take care of my child right after birth. I mean, c'mon, there has to be somebody else better equipped to handle a helpless infant than a woman who is exhausted, sleep deprived for the last few months (who sleeps with that ever present prego-belly?), in serious pain, and gorked out on that particular hormone cocktail that accompanies birth. My doctors and nurses kept coming in with more info after Jacob was born, and I kept wanting to say, "I just pushed another human being out of my body. Go away!"

4/27/2005 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Oh, and one thing I learned that I didn't know before I had children: 18 month old boys who have less than 50 words in their vocabulary can still say "dammit" when their toy falls off the couch.

4/27/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

Things I Did Not Know Until I Had My Third Child:

Those kids most people describe as difficult? They're describing my second child. My third child is off the charts.


My first child was delivered via C-Section and the first night the hospital staff brought him in for me to take care of during the night. I remember getting out of bed to feed him and just crying from the pain of walking to his little bed. So the second night, I asked that the nursery take him, and they looked at me like I was the most horrible mother ever.

One nice thing an old friend of mine did when I was expecting my first was to send me a bunch of bath stuff--bubble bath, salts, lotions, etc. When everyone else was giving me things for the baby, it was so nice to have someone think of me!

4/27/2005 09:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Tess said...

Despite the conventional wisdom to the contrary, there was a great article a week or so ago in the NY Times saying that childbirth and becoming a mother makes women actually smarter. Go figure.

Also, great blog Heather, et. al! I'm not a mother, but it's fun to read about all your fun (and not so fun) adventures.

4/27/2005 09:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Tess said...

P.S. The NY Times article I was thinking of discussed the new book "The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter" by Katherine Ellison. Don't know how scientific the book is, but it's getting a fair bit of press.

4/27/2005 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

This is good timing Wiz; my sister's getting married in a couple hours (what am I doing on-line??) and I think I need to print this off for her. (Or at least refer her to it after her honeymoon. They're going to Jamaica. Lucky dogs.)

4/28/2005 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Rosalynde said...

I know you're just joking Wiz, and I don't want to get too serious here--or discount anyone else's experience... But I didn't experience the "pregnancy" or "mommy brain" thing at all, and I really hate it when that stereotype gets perpetuated. I had both my babies during grad school, and I did my best work by far when I was pregnant and had young babies. I think sometimes the "pregnancy brain" thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy... We need to give ourselves more credit, and maybe expect a bit more of ourselves.

(I realize I also may just have an unusual body... I don't experience PMS or hormonal-mood swings, and I have easy pregnancies. My hardest thing is the immediate post-partum period-- but that's really, really hard for me.)

Rosalynde

4/28/2005 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Rosalynde-
I had never heard of the pregnancy, Mommy-brain thing, and I just did not know why I kept transposing numbers and forgetting things. I thought I was going crazy, until someone explained that it was hormonal, and I would eventually return to normal.

I did go back to normal, but I was much more prepared the second and third time around, so I wrote stuff down more and checked and double checked, so I would not have to rely so much on my memory.
It helped to know it was coming.

You are so lucky not to have experienced it. I didn't have problems at all post partum -- we all get our lucky breaks.

4/28/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Rosalynde,

I'm mostly joking about mommy-brain because it's fun to joke about. I was in grad school when I was pregnant with Peter, and I think the term papers I wrote that semester were as good as any I've done. The things I noticed were small and specific: short-term memory was iffy, and I really couldn't manage numbers well. One time, I had called to order something from a catalog, went to give my address, and simply could not come up with my zip code. It was just gone; I had to turn over the catalog and read it to the order-taker, and it seemed completely foreign to me. Since my third was born, my brain simply doesn't store phone numbers. None. Not my husband's work number, not the babysitter I call every other day, not the pediatrician's office, none. I'll have to take a look at the book Tess mentioned, and see if there's stuff about different areas of functioning. I actually think I probably could have done well in grad school in the baby years, because my verbal ability didn't really diminish, and I think my skill at deductive reasoning kinds of things was probably not dramatically affected by pregnancy (I was never any good at logic in the first place!!). The sleep deprivation might have done me in, though--none of mine ever slept through at all until 9 months, and never even semi-regularly until 18 mos.

4/29/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

I don't want to threadjack, but there are two ideas in this thread that came up tangentially that I think are really, really important:

(1) WHY ON EARTH DO PEOPLE THINK A WOMAN WHO JUST GAVE BIRTH CAN PHYSICALLY TAKE CARE OF A BABY? If you've been reading T & S, you know I've had c/s and vag. births, and for neither did changing diapers and picking up babies seem like ideal activities for the first 24-48 hours. At least I got smart quick: I refuse to be left in the hospital without family. (What do other people do? Do they get up and take care of their babies? Do they call the nurse every six seconds?) So--I have three kids, and I've never seen meconium, because I always make someone else deal with it.

(2) My husband is in charge of doctors' visits for kids (since we discovered that taking all the kids results in someone in addition to the original patient getting sick) and he just about fell on the floor when our ped. chastized us because our THREE MONTH OLD wasn't sleeping through the night. Hello? What planet? Kristine's experience is closer to mine: the memory dims a little, but the 3.5 year old is only RECENTLY sleeping without nocturnal visits to us, the 6mo shows no signs of giving up the 3am and occassionaly gets up every two hours, and the first child was about a year before sleeping through the night. What is up with this? Every book would suggest that I'm just a terrible mother, but I know very few people whose little ones sleep a lot at night.

OK, forgive the shouting, but these things bother me and no one talks much about them.

4/29/2005 11:19:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Julie-

Shout all you want, we are listening and saying, "Yeah, I feel that way too!"

I didn't change Jacob's diaper until we were home from the hospital. I think I was actually afraid more than anything, but still, he was about 3 days old before his mother wiped his bum.

And the sleeping things-what a tough one! I remember reading somewhere "Your baby is 3 months old now, and the sleepless nights are a thing of the past." What? Sleepless nights were very much part of my present at that point, and although we worked with Jacob and got him sleeping at about age 4 months, we STILL have some sleepless nights, and it's not unusual for him to wake up once or twice during the night, asking for water, or his blanket fell off, or he lost his comfort toy, whatever.

Then of course, while we were letting him cry it out, I got comments from my mother saying, "You are ABUSING your child!" and my husband's grandmother said things like, "I feel so sorry for Jacob. What do they teach parents to do to their children these days?"

Sigh--sometimes you just can't win.

4/30/2005 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Russell and I traveled to Utah with our oldest when she was only 6 weeks old. One night, at his Grandmother's house, we were completely and totally stressed because Megan would just not stop crying. Nothing we did helped. At one point, his grandma pulled us aside and said (something to the effect of), "You know you need to stop stressing so much and trying so hard and just trust your insticts more." Revelation. I went home and threw away all my books and never looked at them again. Still don't. I don't care what they say. So what if my kids aren't sleeping through the night? They're MINE not YOURS. And I'm the MOTHER. That's what they (don't) pay me for.

4/30/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrea Wright said...

Hear, hear! Kristine and Julie, I'm so glad you brought the sleeping through the night thing up.
My current crises is the drinks at night. My girls each have a sippy cup on their nightstands so that they can drink to their hearts content throughout the night. For a while they would yell for us in the middle of the night that it wasn't cold, because their ice had melted and would we go put more ice in? -- Uh, I'm ashamed to admit we played that game for awhile until I finally realized how ridiculous it was! They're not the problem anymore. My 22 month old has had allergies and has been pretty miserable so he's been waking up a ton and wanting a drink. He doesn't want his sippy in his crib with him though and so we kept going in and out all night giving him his drink. Finally, my husband moved his dresser next to the crib and showed him that he could reach it by himself. We were so excited to have solved the problem until the next night when he would yell until one of us went in there, then he'd stand up, pick his cup up, take a drink and lay back down. I've decided to just resign myself to waking up in the night for someone for the rest of my life.

4/30/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrea Wright said...

I loved the placenta joke, Kristine! For me, I think it's just that I'm sooo tired at certain stages of my pregnacies that accounts for my brain fog. Last time I was pregnant my aunt was sympathizing and said, "Are you so tired you could lay down in the middle of the grocery store and go to sleep?" One day towards the end of my first pregnancy, I got in the elevator for the parking garage (something I had done every day for several years). About 10 minutes later I started getting annoyed that I still hadn't gotten to my floor after having ridden up and down several times when I realized I had never pushed the button.

4/30/2005 03:08:00 PM  

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