Here are 5 myths that I wholeheartedly believed before having my son and was pleasantly surprised to learn are not even close to what it’s really like.
1. You’ll never sleep again ever.
This is so far from true. And it’s the most prevalent baby myth out there. I believed it. I was ready to go through two years of a horrible, never-enough-rest, haze. The truth? I sleep up to 10 hours a night. Sometimes I wake up, ready to start my day, before Eli does. Newborns sleep like 16 hours a day, it just doesn’t happen all in one chunk. That is double the adult’s 8 hours of recommended sleep! And then I had a magic baby, who at 9 weeks old was sleeping from 10pm until 5 am. Don’t we all have a grandpa out there somewhere who has the same routine? So yes, for 9 short weeks, I was up a few times a night feeding a baby. Feeding a baby isn’t exactly rocket science and even then I could kinda half-sleep for the 20 minutes it would take. Now he sleeps an 11 to 12 hour stretch at night. When I first had him, I was instructed to “sleep when he sleeps”. I followed that advice in the beginning, but it would be silly now if I went to sleep at 8 pm to wake up at 8 am. Not only do I get plenty of I rest, I get more rest now than I did before I had a baby.
2. They are huge time-sucks.
Let me refer to the above paragraph. Eli goes to bed at 8 pm. Every night, I have two or more hours to do whatever I want. He also naps up to three hours a day. More time to do whatever I need to do. And when he’s awake, he’s a baby, so it’s not like he can complain when I take him shopping with me. My time is still my time. He needs face to face interaction for a big part of his awake time (it’s the best way to help him learn and be a happy baby), which happens naturally when I’m feeding him, and easily when he is playing. The time I spend interacting with him is always time well spent. And when he sleeps, there is still plenty of time leftover for me. Even if he did take up more of my time (cue toddler-hood), it is all time I would love to give to him.
3. Kids are no fun.
Really? Now I have an excuse to wear pajamas all day, eat food with my hands, and watch cartoons. How does that equate to “no fun”? Eli gives me a reason to be silly, to not care so much what I look like, and to have an imagination. Granted, he is crawling and pretty interactive now at this age and that makes him really exciting. Even as a baby he was fun to just stare at. Babies find the most basic things amusing: silly sounds, funny faces, or even themselves in the mirror. For a while, I could turn on the sink faucet and Eli would be mesmerized. Babies are naturally comical, because of their body proportions and their lack of ability—so even if they themselves aren’t fun, they’re sure fun to laugh at. As they get older, kids give parents a reason to revisit the best days of their childhood. Building forts, water balloon fights, dress-up, tea parties, and pretty much any game that was ever played. It’s all fun, that’s the point of being a kid.
4. The ‘ew’ factor
I had visions of poop, and spit up, getting peed on… and somehow when I pictured myself as a mom I had flour smudged on my face and my hair was half in a bun, half all over the place and my socks didn’t match. That was not an accurate picture. I have found as a parent that I am cleaner than I was before, because I have this fresh, tiny human who is new to all the ick of the earth and who my instincts make me protect. I am cleaner. But yes, he poops. And it must be cleaned up. If I had to time it, I’d say the whole process of changing an average poopy diaper takes 3 minutes. That is 3 short minutes of icky icky icky ew ew ew good lord what did I feed you?! And then it’s over and he’s clean again. Even for having a boy, I’ve only gotten pee on me a handful of times. The spit up is never a very large amount, and it is usually whatever I just fed him, so it’s not really very gross like grown-up vomit. Of course, we haven’t really begun potty training yet, but as far as babies go? They aren’t really very ‘ew’ at all.
5. They cry all the time
This is the game changer. I assumed, because I had this image from years of hearing it and being told and seeing it on television, that babies cry constantly. THIS IS NOT TRUE. At the worst, the absolute worst case baby in the peak of the period of purple crying (more on what that means later), can cry up to 6 hours a day. That is the rare case and the worst it can ever get. And that would only be for about a week or two when baby is at 2 months of age. Then it lessens and mostly drops off by 3 or 4 months old. Now that he is out of the newborn stage, Eli only cries when he has a need or when he is upset. Most of the time it goes like this: Eli gets whiney, and doesn’t want to continue playing, and I look at the clock and realize it is time to eat/change his diaper/take a nap. There aren’t even tears, and the situation is resolved in less than 5 minutes. Even something really upsetting, like an accidental bonk on the head (curse this crawling stage), only results in 1 or 2 minutes of crying. That’s it.
At the worst for us, around 7 or 8 weeks old, Eli cried 1-2 hours a day. It really wasn’t as much as I thought it would be or as hard as I thought it would be to deal with. Thanks to the care of newborn class I took before I popped, I was armed with every soothing technique out there, and I felt very prepared. Babies really don’t cry as much as we seem to think they do. It’s their only way to communicate, and so crying for them isn’t like crying for us. It’s not this horrible, miserable emotional outlet, it’s just a different language than what we speak.
Babies are not really as difficult and annoying as they are perceived to be. Unless, of course, you are already on the babies-are-the-best train, I hope something here has changed your perspective. Even on the bad days, it’s never as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, even on the bad days, it is still pretty dang incredible.