Motherhood: I heard, but I didn’t listen

I was warned about those early months.

Warned about the scary, ugly, yucky parts of being a mother and a parent that you don’t always see in the movies or dream about when you’re younger.

I heard everyone and what they had to say.

But I didn’t really listen.

Photography by Tammy Nguyen Le

Photography by Tammy Nguyen Le

I recently came across this article, “What Nobody Tells You About the First 3 Months of Motherhood.”

Even though I could relate to most of it, I didn’t quite agree with the title.

It wasn’t that nobody who told me any of these things. They sure did tell me.

In fact, it seemed like EVERYONE had advice for me, whether it was, “Get as much sleep as you can now!” or, “You’re life is gonna change!”

See, I heard them, but I don’t think I quite listened to them.

Or maybe I just didn’t realize how true those words were, or how exactly they would play out in my own experience.

Then, I went through it myself.


And having SURVIVED those early months, I can now share my own take on the advice the author above wishes she knew in those early months of motherhood…

1) Sometimes it won’t feel worth it

When you run on 4-5 hours of broken sleep daily, your hunger is never satiated because you’re nursing/pumping, you can’t focus on the weather outside because you’re too consumed with the inside of your house, and you’re making mistakes and forgetting what the doctor said because you’re a new parent… yes, I’ll admit there were times I didn’t feel things were worth it. I would be up in the middle of the night, alone with the babies, praying for the 3:33 am on the clock to hurry and go away. I’d beg the sun to rise because I knew a second wind would magically refresh me. My bones and my brain would ache because I still wasn’t recovered from bed rest, yet I had to run around the house to pump, feed, eat, clean, change, wipe, burp, rock, soothe, swaddle…


2) No one will be affected by their cries like you are

This statement could not be more true. Call it a mother’s instinct or call me a sap, but their cries – OH, THEIR CRIES! – would twist my heart. Everytime a baby cried, my body would break out into a mini-panic, my mind racing, trying to recall the last feeding, the last diaper change, the last nap. My hands would tremble as I tried to soothe and rock and sing to the babies. No one seemed to understand. They’d tell me to , “Just let them cry.” “They’re fine.” Or, to the babies themselves, “Let me see how loud you can cry!” Or, the one that always made me cringe, “It’s good exercise for their lungs.” Well, if it’s good exercise, why don’t YOU cry and scream to the top of your lungs for a couple of minutes and let me know how in shape you are after that!


3) You’re going to have bad dreams

I didn’t so much have bad dreams about my babies, but I did dream like crazy. The broken sleep did not allow me to reach those beloved REM cycles that used to be a part of my every night. I would have weird dreams, bad dreams, unusual dreams, only to be disturbed by someone’s crying or my own inability to sleep soundly anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I was tired as heck. But those early months are incredibly difficult to sleep at times because your rhythm and sleep cycles are just OFF.


4) You’ll feel like an ungrateful jerk

All my life, pregnancy and having kids seemed like such a fantasy. It was a thing of beauty, a miraculous and life-changing event in one’s life. That means from the moment you see that stick tell you you’re pregnant to the moment the baby is in your arms there will be a beacon of light shining through like during the Lion King and the angels will sing and you’ll radiate with mom goodness, right? Well, not exactly. Yes, I felt the sunshine and roses when we found out we were expecting. But after an unexpectedly rocky pregnancy and being first time parents to twins, it was rough, to say the least! All the complaining, all the whining, all the wishing for the long days and nights to end, all the dreaming of our past lives – made me feel like I didn’t appreciate my new life. I did – and do – appreciate the new chapter in our lives. But no, everything is not all daisies and horses prancing around. It’s hard, it’s dirty, it’s tiring, it’s INSANE! We learned that we could be bitter and tired, or just tired. So we sucked it up and started to just accept our new life already! It just takes a while to get to a point where you are normalized a bit and feeling in control of your life. Until then, you are at your babies’ every call and that means life is ALL BABY.


5) You won’t want this phase to end, and yet you can’t wait for it to end

This goes hand in hand with the previous one. I’ll never forget it: The days are long, but the years are short. You marathon through each day only to do everything all over again the next. It’s a drag. You are beat. It’s painful. But then you look back – as I am doing now – and realize that your pregnancy and those early months really are a fleeting time in your life. That period in time literally came and went. No, you won’t miss the exhaustion and the frustration. But you will miss the fresh discovery of a new love, the helpless little creatures that needed you for every single things, the innocence that budded and is now blooming.


These days, things are much different in our household than they were in those early months. The boys sleep uninterrupted anywhere from 7 pm to 6 am. They have big personalities and know what they want. They roll and army crawl. They babble, laugh, shout, scream, and snort. They are SO FUNNY. They are HILARIOUS. The thing about the past few months (about 6 months until now) is that the babies reciprocate the attention and love that we’ve so desperately longed for. As a first time parent, you try your best and hope and pray you’re doing things right. Then all of a sudden, you take a step back and realize, hey, we’re doing OK. In fact, we’re doing more than OK. The boys are happy, they’re growing, they’re thriving. Yes, I wish I really knew some of these things in the beginning. But sometimes it takes getting through something and looking back before you truly understand what it is you wish you knew then. No wonder everyone warned us that our lives would change. No wonder they told us to get sleep, get help, and to just hang in there. It was hard to believe at first, in fact, I didn’t think it was true. I didn’t comprehend anything anyone told me because sometimes it didn’t help me in the moment. It’s all worth it and I’ll miss these days? Yeah, that didn’t help me figure out how to soothe to crying babies in the middle of the night. But I’m there now. I have the urge to tell a new parent that it IS worth it and the good times WILL come and you ARE doing everything right. I’ll be sure to not take it personally if my message isn’t received with open arms and a big grin.

Photography by Tammy Nguyen Le

Photography by Tammy Nguyen Le

Photography by Tammy Nguyen Le

Photography by Tammy Nguyen Le

***DISCLAIMER: I do not mean to scare any first time moms with this post! Instead, I just wanted to reflect on my own personal experience now that I can actually “look back” at those early months. For all those new moms out there, and soon-to-be or one-day-will-be moms, you will find and experience your own reality when the time comes. Hang in there and know you are never alone! In fact, here are some great reads to boost your “mommy confidence” and help you know that you will get through this.


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