When I was pregnant with my first child, I read the baby manuals, studied up online, and talked to all of my parent friends. With all my research, I was pretty sure I had that life-with-a-newborn thing down. But it turned out that reading about it was very different than experiencing it. I mean, the rash in the folds of my baby's neck didn't match what was on page 26. Nor did she stay swaddled like my friend's son. One night, putting down my very dog-eared copy of a baby book, I had an epiphany: My newborn would be at least a little different from every other newborn. That's the way it was supposed to be, except nobody had told me that. These are some ways other parents were surprised in the first few weeks home with their new babes—the good, the weird, and the "wow."
Boy, Can They Snooze
"I was surprised by pretty much everything after I had my first, but I truly had no idea how much babies slept. I remember feeling nervous any time my baby slept for longer than a couple of hours at a time. I was like, 'Why aren't you awake? Are you hungry? Is something wrong? Aren't you supposed to be crying?' Funny, now I beg my kids to get some sleep."— Kristen Chase, a mother of four in Atlanta and CEO and publisher of Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech
Oh! Eeek! Ouch!
"No one told me that I wouldn't be able to sit without pain and that my nipples would be on fire—fire. Thankfully, I had purchased a Boppy nursing pillow prior to having the baby, which I used for sitting on more than nursing for the first week or so. For my nipples I discovered Soothies, gel pads you put on after the baby is finished nursing. I went through a warehouse full of those things in the first two months."—Mary Burt-Godwin, a mother of two in San Diego who blogs (and vlogs) at The Mama Mary Show
You Can Love Your Baby And Still Want To Be Alone
"I breastfed my daughter, so we were constantly together, and then there was all the time spent holding her. I got extremely emotional with so much physical contact. To help me manage, my husband would take her for at least 30 minutes when he got home from work, and I could go lay down, be away from everyone, and decompress."—Lisa S., a mother of two in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who blogs at Mommy's Nest
You'll Need More Diapers Than You Think
"I so wish someone had told me to stock up on boxes of diapers. I knew I'd need them but I had no idea how quickly we would go through them! For my second's baby shower, the host asked for diapers as a 'cover charge' and assigned everyone a specific size. I was stocked for months!"—Natasha Olivera, a mother of two in Miami, Florida, who blogs for Me, My Guys, & My Stumbles Through Parenthood
There's No Shame In Asking For Help (Just Sanity)
"I had no clue how challenging it would be to take care of myself during that first week at home while learning to take care of my newborn. It's like you're wearing giant pads and stretchy disposable underpants and you may need help getting out of bed and going to the bathroom is be even less fun than it was during the pregnancy. People talk about the sweet newborn stage, but even 'easy' natural births require recovery. I'm pregnant again and this time around, I won't hesitate to ask family and friends for help, or to have my husband take over while I take a soothing bath!"—Natalie Herr, a mother of one in Warner Robins, Georgia, who blogs at Oven Love
Diapering Isn't Rocket Science But...
"Diapering my oldest—who seemed so tiny—made me so nervous, I actually had my husband change her first diaper at the hospital. I quickly realized it is OK to make mistakes and babies are going to have accidents and that's what we have laundry machines. Soon, it was second nature before I knew it." —Carly Kerby, a mom of three in Salt Lake City, Utah, who blogs at Living the Scream
You'll Be Bowled Over
"At the risk of being sappy, the only thing that really floored me was how fast and powerful the emotions came once my children were born. The minute my first son was delivered I found levels of love that I never knew existed. It actually made me feel guilty about all of the things I put my parents through when I was a kid, to the point that my phone call about the birth doubled as an apology for my own lack of understanding. It was like an awakening."—Whit Honea, a father of two in Los Angeles who blogs for Honea Express and DadCentric