9 Unexpected Things I Learned About Myself During The First Year Of Motherhood

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There were things I expected while I was expecting. Certainly, I knew I was going to be tired once the twins were here. I knew things were going to get hard without any family around or that our marriage would temporarily be on a sideline.

However, as the days and months of our parenting journey passed by, on occasion I would stop in amazement only to learn yet another new thing about myself.

Make no mistake, it wasn’t all fluffy and pink.

Much of my unusual behavior was definitely caused by the post-partum hormonal changes. But to my surprise, none of my mommy friends ever mentioned these to me! At times I felt as if I was the only one under the sun with such weird experiences (couldn’t thank the Internet enough).

So here I am today revealing the sweet and sour moments of early motherhood with these 9 unexpected things I learned about myself during that first year.

I didn’t like other people touching my babies.

Especially during the first few months. Some of my seasoned mom friends would want to get their “newborn fix” and hold my babies for way too long(at least in my opinion). I couldn’t stand that!

The connection between a mom and her newly born baby is extremely deep. I felt as if my boys were still a part of me. The protective instincts kicked in full gear and just watching my friend and her high-energy three-year-old trying to touch and hold one of my babies was more than I could handle.

Therefore new moms, do not feel bad if you prefer privacy for the first few months. It is absolutely your right!

I turned into a neat freak.

The nesting phase of pregnancy made me sweep our outside patio at 7 AM in the morning! As if the babies were going to be hanging out there, right?

I literally couldn’t stand a single dog hair on my clothes or crumbs on the counter. Call me crazy, but five days after my C-section I was actually vacuuming our living room!

If you think about it, once the babies are a bit older they spend the majority of their days close to or on the floor. Tummy time, activity mats, rolling, crawling, it all happens there. Therefore the need to provide clean and safe environment is just as normal as feeding them healthy food.

For some moms, this newfound cleanliness might be stronger than for others.

I can happily report that it really is just a phase and you will get back to your normal cleaning routine soon enough. Sweeping a patio early in the morning has turned into a luxury, anyway!

I am still me.

For some reason, I’ve always imagined how once I became a mom, something would drastically change. I imagined that I would turn into the wise and calm mother archetype and leave all the foolishness behind. I thought I would start wearing the pretty flower dresses and pearl necklaces (not that there is anything wrong with that).

But it didn’t happen. I still prefer wearing jeans and sneakers and hate wearing jewelry.

I learned to live with the fact that I am still simply me. I am still the same soul that used to be the clumsy six-year-old or the struggling teenager.

Sometimes I watch my boys sleep and still can’t believe I am their mother. All of a sudden I have a responsibility bigger than myself.

My appetite skyrocketed

This was most likely due to my nursing efforts, but my husband and I were both shocked by the amount of food I needed and actually ate. It was definitely more than during my (twin) pregnancy.

Not only did I start to eat as if the famine was coming, my healthy eating habits went out the window. I needed to eat fast and satisfy the sweet cravings that I had. Luckily, thanks to breastfeeding, my weight did not suffer. If I ate the same way now, however, that would be a different story!

4 hours of sleep per night felt like a treat!

Before we had kids, I used to need my 9 hours of sleep every night. My husband would often joke that my sleeping habits were of the senior citizen rather than a young adult. Sleeping needs are so individual for everyone, that I am not even going to try to explain.

But once the twins were born, the days and nights blended together for many many months. Not only did we bottle feed our boys every two hours, as soon as they were back to bed I would have to get up and pump milk for their next meal. I hardly got 4 hours of sleep at night.

But you know what? I was just fine! I was still able to function and be a mom during the day and enjoy the precious moments with our little ones to the fullest.

As I talked about this with several friends, they all had similar experiences. I drew a conclusion that as new moms, the energy that keeps us going is love, not sleep.

I had the strangest fears and dreams for quite some time.

A fear of my boys being kidnapped was the one I felt the most. I imagined and had actual nightmares about someone trying to snatch my babies right out of my arms.

On one occasion I also woke up crying hysterically because in my dream my husband decided to leave us. Luckily he was right there beside me to hold me and calm me down.

I know a mom who wore a mask covering her face during the night so she wouldn’t pass any disease onto her newborn. As crazy as such ideas might seem to outsiders, to a new mom they make perfect sense.

To counter all my fears and worries, I surprisingly felt stronger than ever. I knew I would do everything and anything it took to protect my offspring.

C-sections take a long time to recover from.

It took nine months to be exact. I didn’t have a clue it would take that long!

And even to this day, I am occasionally reminded of it by a sudden dull pain when one of the boys decides to bounce on mommy’s belly.

Forgetfulness took over.

I used to pay very close attention to detail. I always kept a daily planner and made sure never to miss or skip any obligation.

These days, however, my husband has to repeat himself several times before I even register whatever it is he has on his mind. The other day he asked me to remind him about something later on that evening. “What a silly thing to ask of me!” I thought the next morning when I finally remembered.

I really hope this is just a temporary flaw and once the busy-ness of the first years pass, I will be just as reliable as I once was.

Plus, I can hardly remember how little and fragile our babies were!  I can only see them the way they are at the moment. But those little tiny bodies of newborns are almost unimaginable at this point.

The dogs became my enemies.

This is the hardest to admit. But I couldn’t stand our dogs once we brought our babies home. Before, they used to be my “babies”.

And yes, I used to think having dogs is just like having children (I apologize to every mother out there. Can I go and slap my pre-mom self in the face?)

All of a sudden I didn’t see loyal and loving companions but rather wild animals who lick their rear ends, put their nose into EVERYTHING, and shed like crazy (hey, a husky owner here). I certainly couldn’t let them anywhere near my newborns!

Not too many women talk about this, however. I had to dive in the good ole’ Google for a while before I found someone describing the same estranged feelings.

But luckily, this animosity towards our animals eased off and things got back to normal. So new moms out there, if this happens to you, don’t beat yourself up!

In fact, you will look back on that first year of motherhood and realize it just flew by and you’ll find yourself in a new routine that you love just as much as your old one.

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An expat mom of toddler twins, military wife and former early childhood educator. I hold a degree in psychology and I simply find delight in the wonderful world of childhood. I love reading, learning and getting to the core of things. I write about the peculiar journey of motherhood at my blog PlanesAndBalloons.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It’s almost funny how exactly opposite our experiences were. I had an emergency c-section, let the house go to he11, I did not have an immediate connection to my son (took 8 months for REAL REAL connection to develop), would honestly let anyone hold him (the mail carrier could have asked and I’d have said yes), my dogs were amazing because they would just snuggle with me when I was so stressed I wanted to jump off a bridge (eh, literally, I had bad PPD!), and my dreams were actually *awesome*. I had very few worries that included my son once we figured out he had reflux and colic. I had PPD with some psychosis, so the strangest thing to me was how surreal life felt. I’d walk around thinking, this isn’t my life, I wonder when I’ll wake up and feel like it is. But yes, the forgetfulness was horrible!! If I took a nap when my son did, I’d wake up not sure if it was AM or PM or what day it was. Or why I walked into a room. Or to use sugar in banana bread (oops). It was a very bizarre year plus and I do try to prepare my friends in case it’s not the experience they are expecting. I do wish someone had prepared me!

  2. This is so strange, some of what you said was on target, but then others weren’t. I actually am writing a book on motherhood changes and one thing I was working on today is how we DO drastically change with motherhood lol. I guess everyone’s experience is different. I do remember how hungry I was but I KNOW that was the lack of sleep I was getting. When you aren’t sleeping enough your body’s hunger trigger is thrown off. Your stress management hormones are also thrown out of whack and most people gain weight (esp. if you are older).

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