How a Baby Changes Things (In 10 Ways You Might Not Have Thought of Yet)
We all know that pregnancy and a baby changes things — good, bad or indifferent. The more common things you might hear about are the more obvious things people talk about, like changes to your body, the amount of sleep and lifestyle in general. In all actuality, everything changes. Of course, not in bad ways, but if you have the brain space, it's a good idea to think about these things so you are prepared for it mentally when or if it happens.
Now, this is not a "for sure this is going to happen" type of list. This is just a compilation of possibilities or some not-so-common changes to consider.
Your first "fur baby" that was man's best friend all of the sudden becomes another mouth to feed and a potential safety risk to your sweet bundle of joy. There are measures you can take to prepare your pets for your arriving bundle of joy, including bringing home the clothes that the baby was put in after birth so that the pets can smell the new baby before he or she shows up. Even the sweetest family pets can be a little freaked out by a rough and curious toddler. The best advice is to monitor their interaction and hopefully in no time, Fido will get used to having a new baby and may even enjoy having a playmate.
That gorgeous glass-top coffee table you loved? With the introduction of your cruising toddler, be ready to accessorize your living space with those ugly rubber-edge protectors or entirely new childproof furniture. We went from being all about looks to all about safety. Ah, parenthood.
Before your sweet kiddo came around, you might have found yourself relating the most to other gals who shared your same DINK status (duel income no kids), but after you become a parent, you quickly learn some of those DINKS have preconceived ideas and strong opinions about parenting (feeding, discipline, hands off versus helicopter, etc.). You'll find yourself gravitating toward other mamas who share your parenting style. Pretty common and maybe obvious, but certainly diluted friendships was not top of mind for me before becoming pregnant.
Preferred drinking time
Those people who say "it's 5 o'clock somewhere!" would run from my house in a panic-stricken sprint if they saw and heard the monster crying that occurs at "the baby witching hours" of 5 to 7 p.m., which was formerly my favorite happy hour time. My new "happy hour" is right after I've put my little angels to sleep and before I pass out on the couch while watching "The Walking Dead" from sheer exhaustion.
Getting a workout in
Before baby, going to the gym, doing your 45 minutes of cardio then 30 minutes of weight training, ab work and stretching was totally doable. After baby, if it even happens for the first couple of years, you may be limited to jogging strollers or workout videos. I tried doing workout videos at home one time with my toddler awake, and she literally fed me her potato chip snack each time I came up from a sit-up. It was equally hysterical and depressing. I finally got the nerve to pay for a gym membership that includes a kid's care facility. The $50 I pay a month for daily workouts and uninterrupted showers is 100 percent worth it.
Pre-baby, not only did you have the money and time for vacations, but you were able to actually relax on those said vacations. Post-baby, not only are you traveling with enough stuff to give Madonna's entourage a little competition, but taking your children out of their normal routine is the OPPOSITE of relaxing. In fact, it might make taking vacations just not worth it for a couple of years, unless you can leave them at home with a grandparent. In that case, please PLEASE sleep in, go to brunch and have an afternoon cocktail, because I haven't been able to do that in about … three years.
Now don''t go and take this as the ultimate truth, but things just change. So until baby sleeps through the night and you're not feeding every few hours, it's difficult to find time or desire for anything "extracurricular." At some point, you'll get your groove back, but as a new mama, hormones tank along with sex drive. Add to that our body changes, being needed ALL DAY and lack of sleep, and let's just say that rolling around in the sheets is the last thing on our mind as we finally get settled in bed. Once you adjust to a new normal, you'll find ways to reignite that flame.
We all know that our feet swell some during pregnancy, but the pregnancy hormone that prepares our bodies for childbirth also allows the ligaments in our feet to relax, which sometimes results in your feet growing a size! And it's not always the same on each foot! Hey, at least it's a reason to go get some new shoes.
What you eat
This could go several different ways. What I've heard from a lot of different moms is a heightened awareness of what they are feeding their growing family once they have kids in the household. This is the mama bear instinct coming out in you — hooray! Go ahead and throw out that boxed macaroni and cheese and those foods with high fructose corn syrup. Once you read about the stuff that is in those "foods" you'll start to rethink what you keep in your fridge and pantry. Or you may have totally cared about what you ate before having a baby, but now that you are so busy with being a mama, you might start opting into easier options — five-minute, few-ingredient meals. No shame in your game — I've been on BOTH sides of this fence.
You know those SPCA commercials on TV? Or the episodes of "The Walking Dead" where something almost happens to Judith or Carl? Don't even get me started on baby animals on the National Geographic channel shows. As a mother, your emotions are even MORE sensitive to sad stories or stories involving children. The local news, forget about it. Complete tear-fest. What caused you to get a little misty-eyed before might turn you into full ugly-cry mode post-children.
So, there you have it. Some of the less-publicized post-baby changes. This isn't to serve as something to scare you while you are eight months pregnant, because that is just mean! But these are some things that you can think about now so you aren't completely surprised when things are a little different after your little cherub arrives!
Tara Boyd, North Texas mother of three, to Beulah ("Boo"),Lucy ("Lu") and little brother Jacob, dishes practical advice on marriage, motherhood and munchies with humor and southern charm in her blog, Boyd Meets Girl.