Warning Decoded

The most common advice I heard when we were pregnant from parents of all ages went something like this, "start stocking up on sleep now it'll be hard to come by later." or "wow you are going to be so exhausted. Good luck." or if someone was actually offering kind advice they usually said, "let the house be messy, let laundry pile up, let people do things for you and sleep when your baby sleeps."

This final bit of advice I think was actually helpful and less cruel than others. But 2 weeks into this I think I have decoded one of our cultural warnings. It's not about sleep that we are being warned as expecting couples. Rather, it is about how radically life will change and will shift. It's a warning that things will be hard. But because, we as a culture avoid the hard, we warn parents unfairly with concerns only about sleep. Somehow it is safer.

I don't know exactly what "advice" would have been helpful. But I am trying to be as honest as possible on this blog so let's be frank. This is really fucking hard! It's not just the lack of sleep it's that falling in love with a baby doesn't happen in the blink of an eye, it's that life radically changed in the course of days, it's that everything I know how to do really well is totally irrelevant to the fact that I cannot quiet her when she is upset, or engage with her in any meaningful way (she doesn't care).

This is really hard, and as someone who desperatly desires a more honest culture, as someone who struggles with transition, as someone who is struggling right now with all of this, I very much wish that the cultural quips we gave new parents were about supporting them, acknowledging struggle and ambivalence and giving them that narrative- so that they feel so much less isolated.


  1. even though it also has a lot to do with chemical and hormonal changes, i think that this attitude (or, cultural shift) could reduce the incidence of postpartum depression.

  2. I cried... a lot. There is no way to prepare someone else for the total change of becoming a parent. I don't even try. Thought I knew what I was getting myself into - I spent a lot of time with nieces and nephews prior to Alex's arrival. Then he came, and I lost it. I mourned the loss of my totally selfish, independent, childless life for a long time - I still do. But I love Alex... and wouldn't take him back. Even though life would be easier.

    Now here comes number two. Those parents who give all the advice - the ones with 3, 4 or 5 kids - they're now saying 2 is really hard too. Not as hard as one - perhaps because you give into everything a little faster, you're ready to surrender right from the beginning. But hard - now the parental team of two doesn't get the opportunity to take a moment off without calling in reinforcements beyond the family unit.

    All I know is I'm ready to cry again. But I'm hopeful this time - because I know I will come to love Charlie. I also know how slow the days have gone in the past two years, but at the same time, how fast the past two years have gone. Not that I can tell you that.


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