If you have kids, you will understand this next comment: Post baby, I eat my words all the time.
Pre baby, I made comments like so....
"I will want to work when I have kids. I need the social interaction."
Nope. False. While I absolutely love my job, I love my baby more and would be totally fine staying at home with her every day if it were financially possible for us.
"I'm a pretty organized person. I'm sure we will have her on a schedule."
Mostly false. I am organized. We do follow a loose schedule (she eats around the same time every day, naps within the same hour or two each day, etc), but I am quick to throw the schedule out the window any time Eve's cues don't seem to fit or when we have something to do. In order to have a social life, we found it necessary to keep her up later sometimes, change nap time around, etc. And I could care less, when I thought it would matter a great deal to me! I've learned to let her tell me what she wants, and that works for us.
"We will sleep train I'm sure."
Ha. This one makes me laugh. I thought I would be ok with "cry it out" or "sleep training". But I am far from it. I am not good at letting Eve cry for very long at all. I just can't handle it. She's still young, and I'm sure we will have to figure that out someday, but for now, if she wakes up, so do I. :)
I could go on and on.
If there's anything I have learned from having a baby, its that anyone that doesn't have a baby has no idea what its like. I "do babies" for a living being a pediatric nurse, and while that does help....I am more in tune to their development, knew how to swaddle and soothe, etc....there is so much more to parenting than schedules and milestones! I am learning and adapting all the time.
Just when I figured out how to manage myself, a baby and a household, it was time to go back to work. A huge change, more to juggle and quite the learning curve. There were tears, fights, and battles lost (mostly dishes, cooking and laundry battles lost). Almost four months back to work, I am still figuring it out. Making time to clean, cook and shower are difficult, especially on days I work when all I care about is playing with Eve for the few hours I get to see her awake. I constantly feel pulled in a million directions and there is always something to do. It is hard.
Similarly, just when we thought we had figured out the sleep thing, Eve decided to no longer sleep through the night. More tears, more fights, more battles lost. She was sleeping from 8pm to 5 or 6am pretty consistently from 3-6 months and then BAM!, no more. I know there are sleep training ways to get this to happen again, but as said above, I currently just don't have the heart for it. Weight gain has been a constant battle for us with periods of exclusive pumping, supplementing, and fortified breastmilk to make it happen, so if my baby wants to eat in the middle of the night, I'm going to feed her.
I say these things not to provoke sympathy, judgement or advice (which I'm sure I will receive all of anyway), but to share what every mother already knows. You think you know what your parenting style will be, what you are getting into when having a baby, but you don't. You can read the books and blogs, listen to all the other moms and what they have to say, but at the end of the day, every baby and every family is truly different. I just don't think there is a right way, despite all the judgement running around. Every stage brings new surprises. You are learning who your baby is, and through every bit of that, who you are as well. Babies completely change EVERYTHING.
So if you are a new mom, take this advice. Don't stress. Remember that every challenge is just a phase that will soon pass as your baby changes. Remember that every other new mom shares similar struggles and while those struggles may vary from mom to mom, every mom has them! I still revel at the new moms who are able to do their hair, put on jewelry and look all put together every day! I can't seem to make that happen and would live in either scrubs or yoga pants if I could.
And remember that whether you keep a schedule or don't, breastfeed or don't, let them cry it out or don't, work or don't, you are their mom, and you love them more and in a different way than anyone else could, and that's what matters!