The New Parent’s Guide To Caring For Your Baby’s Belly Button (& Stump!)

We’re just going to come right out and say it: Newborn baby belly buttons are weird. Well, not once their umbilical cord stump falls off and they look like normal human belly buttons. Before that. Like, when they still have the stump and you can’t take your eyes off of it because, yes, you want to make sure they get the proper care but are also kinda fascinated by their alien body part — plus, simultaneously a little grossed out by this particular piece of your precious baby. It’s a lot for a new mama to process! And that’s to say nothing of baby belly button care, which makes the entire newborn naval situation all the more perplexing.

Still not sure what exactly is going on down there? Consider this your guide to newborn belly button care, including how to clean it, and what to do if it’s bleeding or you suspect that it’s infected.

What’s the deal with a baby belly button?

If you’ve given birth, been present at one, or even just watched a scene including one on TV, then you’re familiar with the part when the new baby’s umbilical cord is clamped and snipped. This results in a stump, which starts drying out and eventually falls off in one to three weeks. As a new parent, you may be tempted to pull the stump off yourself (read: you will definitely be tempted to do so). As tempting as it may be, though, resist the urge to pull or pick at that stump, Mama. It may look gross, but it’ll fall off on its own schedule. What you can — and should — do during those first few weeks is keep the stump dry, including by sticking to sponge baths.

Is baby belly button bleeding normal?

A little bit of bleeding around the stump isn’t anything to worry about. And, much like a scab, it’s possible for the stump to bleed a small amount when it falls off. But if the area around their belly button oozes pus, develops a pink moist bump, or if the surrounding skin becomes red and swollen, it could be an infection. In that case, you’ll need to take your baby to the doctor.

What does a newborn belly button infection look like?

Although rare, there is a life-threatening infection called omphalitis that can happen right before a newborn baby’s stump falls off. In that scenario, a trip to the emergency room is warranted. The symptoms include signs of an infection, such as:

  • pus
  • redness or discoloration
  • persistent bleeding
  • bad smell
  • tenderness on the stump or belly button

How do you clean a baby belly button?

It’s important to keep a newborn baby’s umbilical stump dry, as well as clean. But instead of washing it regularly, do what you can to keep it from getting dirty. And because the stump falls off once it’s dry, keep the stump from getting and staying wet. If the stump does end up getting wet, gently pat it dry using a clean baby washcloth. A cotton swab is also an option, but make sure that you don’t rub or poke the stump too aggressively, so it doesn’t fall off before its time. As we mentioned above, sponge baths are the way to go while the stump is still around.

Once the stump detaches from your newborn baby’s little body, keeping their belly button clean is relatively straightforward. You can start giving them regular (non-sponge) baths, during which you just need to use the edge of a washcloth to gently clean inside the belly button. Just don’t scrub too hard or use soap. And there’s no need to clean a baby’s belly button any more frequently than they bathe.  That’s basically it! Well, you know, besides breathing a big sigh of relief once the stump finally falls off.

The post The New Parent’s Guide To Caring For Your Baby’s Belly Button (& Stump!) appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Everything To Know About Safe Baby Bath Temperature

Bath time is a fun time for you to bond with your baby. They get to splash around and be unencumbered by a diaper or clothes, and it’s the perfect time for you to connect with your little one by engaging with them, talking with them, and making eye contact. It’s also a great way to establish a routine and teach your baby the difference between “busy time” and “sleep time,” while at the same time providing them with a yummy way of relaxing and winding down before bed. But bathing a newborn, especially for the first time, can be nerve-racking. Your baby might not love being bathed at first, and you might need some practice with it too. Newborn babies can be a bit slippery! Then there’s the logistics of the bath. How long should it be? What is the perfect baby bath temperature? You want your baby to be comfortable, of course. Not too cold, not too hot, but just right.

In other words, it’s only natural to have some motherhood anxiety before your little cutie gets clean. So, if you need some help figuring out your baby’s bath temperature and how to test it, we’ve got you. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

What is the best baby bath temperature?

You want to find the perfect medium for your baby’s safety and comfort when it comes to their bath water temperature. You want the water more warm than cold since a baby can get cold easily. Aim for the bath water’s temperature to be around 100 F, maybe a few degrees above, but definitely below 120 degrees. It’s also important that the room is at a nice and toasty temp, too. To prevent scalding, it’s recommended to set the thermostat on your home’s water heater to below 120 F — just in case!

You might need to hire a plumber to install a valve or thermostatic mixing valve at your water heater or on the hot water supply. You might also want to consider installing anti-scalding devices to place on taps and shower outlets to reduce the risk of scalding.

How to check for the bath temperature

There are a couple of methods to best check your baby’s bath temperature. One of the simplest ways is to use a thermometer. There are many cute digital waterproof thermometers on the market. There are even baby tubs with built-in thermometers! However, that’s not totally necessary — you can even test the water with your wrist or elbow. Swirl the water around first to break up any hot spots (just as you would before drawing your own bubble bath). It’s also a good idea to run the cold water first and then turn on the hot water to warm up the bath.

How much water should you fill the tub with?

Whether you’re using your bathtub, a baby bathtub, or a sink, it’s important to keep the water level at a minimum to ensure your little one’s safety. A common recommendation is about two inches of water. There has been some research that indicates having enough water to cover your baby’s shoulders helps keep them warm and calm. You might also consider periodically (and gently) pouring water over your baby’s body to keep them warm during bathtime.

No matter how much water you use, it’s important to keep a secure yet comfortable hold on your baby throughout their splish splash. And never leave your baby alone in the tub — not even for a split second. Babies can quickly drown in as little as one inch of water.

How long should a bath be for your baby?

Unlike yourself, who might enjoy a nice hour-long bath, your baby only requires a quick five- to ten- minute bath at first. Warm water can easily irritate a baby’s skin, so you want to make bath time a short and sweet activity for them.

The post Everything To Know About Safe Baby Bath Temperature appeared first on Scary Mommy.

‘Fourth And Final’ Feels Right For My Family, But I’m Still Very Sad

As a mother to four incredible, healthy children, you might assume that it would be easy for me to say that I am absolutely done with having children. Surely, a mother such as myself has no right to grieve the end of my childbearing years. I should gracefully bow out, and pass the torch to the 20-somethings with big dreams and thin wallets.

Holding my fourth baby, my precious little boy with a smile that lights up his whole face and a temper to match my own, I swear I can feel my heart constrict at the thought of his “lasts.” The last time he drifts to sleep while nursing in the dark, or the last time he will cling to my leg pleading silently with his beautiful hazel eyes to pick him up. However, it’s quite the opposite.

I am all too aware of how quickly the time passes.

With your first child, you eagerly anticipate the “firsts.” The first smile, the first laugh, or the first steps. You gently encourage growth, and beam with pride as your child blossoms before your eyes. For some, there may even be a little bit of relief in the independence their baby begins to insist on.

At this point, I would give anything for just one more day to snuggle that beautiful seven pound baby I first set my eyes on a short ten months ago.

There is something so powerful about carrying a child. Having the capability to bring a new human being into the world is one of the most amazing experiences a person can have. I never anticipated feeling such an enormous, overwhelming sadness watching a pregnant woman walk through the grocery store.

I am grieving a process that has changed my entire life, and been its sole purpose for the last nine years.

My life went from thirsty Thursdays, to 2 a.m. nursing sessions. Instead of rushing to the gym after work, I rush home to pick up my babies and cook them dinner. Rather than spending hours scouring through my closet trying to find the perfect outfit for Friday night, I am racing to the store to pick up the newest Trolls for family movie night.

There are pivotal moments in our lives that change the direction entirely.

Massimiliano Finzi/Getty

Realizing I will never again wait those painfully long nine months to see if my baby has brown eyes or blue, to see if all of that indigestion truly does translate into a head full of beautiful brown hair — it’s hard, y’all.

You would think I could count my blessings and sigh a long breath of relief that I will never again have to fit into painfully tight t-shirts at 38 weeks, or sport those dreadful mesh panties. Instead, I feel washed up. Old.

Rather than being asked if my baby is getting enough milk, or how long I plan on nursing, I am chomping at the bit and forcing myself not to give advice to my baby brother who just had his first baby.

Funny enough, I was not one of those women who glided effortlessly through pregnancy. For the most part, I actually disliked being pregnant. When you factor in sciatica, horrifying hormone changes, and endless bouts of morning sickness, it’s pretty amazing I had more than one child to begin with.

When you first have children, they often tell you how quickly the time passes, and to enjoy every moment. You obligingly nod your head, and roll your bloodshot eyes. How can anyone enjoy two hours of sleep at a time?

How did the roles shift so entirely? When did I transition from a young, new mother, to the seasoned veteran with scars to prove it? Next year, three of my four children will be in elementary school. My oldest will be in third grade.

Instead of celebrating for a job well done, I sneak into the kitchen after putting the baby to sleep, and drown my sorrows in a bag of chocolate chip cookies. With only the sound of the bag rustling as I reach in for number twenty-five, I stare at the enormous pile of clothes that no longer fit my baby. Reminders of the tiny little human he will never be again.

There are so many women out there who struggle to carry or conceive a child. Surely, I have no right to grieve an empty womb after giving life to four human beings. Right?

Life is funny. It keeps moving, changing, whether we are ready for it or not. Our children are a little bit older every day. We go through the motions, and often miss the “lasts” entirely without even realizing it.

If I had any advice to give, it would be to stop. Stop worrying about your messy house, and piles of laundry. Stop obsessing over the milestones your child hasn’t yet mastered. Put down your phone, snuggle that baby, and talk to your first grader. We don’t realize how quickly our children change. Their interests shift from Barbies and baby dolls to makeup and jewelry, seemingly overnight.

Try to find quiet moments in the chaos. See your children for who they are in that moment. They may not be the same version the next time you stop long enough to see it.

The post ‘Fourth And Final’ Feels Right For My Family, But I’m Still Very Sad appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Buy Buy Baby’s Epic Black Friday Sale Means It’s Time To Stock Up On All The Essentials

Buy Buy Baby’s Black Friday sale 2020 is one you don’t want to miss. If you’re a parent, you’re aware that babies need things and things happen to be expensive . Maybe you’re in the market for a big purchase like a compact stroller or a safe, stylish crib, or you’re hunting for smaller accessories like baby bottles or toddler toys. Either way, you’ll find everything you need (and more) at a discounted price, so consider this your cue to stock up now. Also, if you have an expecting friend or a virtual baby shower on the calendar, consider getting that special gift now.

We know life’s a little *extra* hectic nowadays, so to save you time, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite mom-approved deals that BBB has to offer. Lucky for us, Black Friday has come early this year, meaning you can get a head start on your holiday shopping, starting NOW!

The Best Buy Buy Baby Black Friday Deals

Travel Gear

Graco Modes 3 Lite Platinum Travel System

Moms know they’ll get the most bang for their buck (plus convenience) with a compatible travel system that comes with a car seat, car seat base, and stroller. Moms also know that shopping Black Friday sales is the best way to save even more dough on baby essentials. That’s why now’s the smartest time to buy the ever-popular, ever affordable Graco Modes 3 Lite Platinum Travel System. You’ll save $80 (!) on an already-affordable price and have everything you need to keep Baby safe as you’re on the go.

$320 AT BUY BUY BABY

20% off

UPPAbaby CRUZ V2 Stroller

If you thought a fancy baby stroller was out of the question, check out the slashed prices on BBB’s premium strollers like the UPPAbaby CRUZ V2. Normally $650-680, you can save $130+ if you buy it during this Black Friday sale. The UPPAbaby features a reversible seat, one-hand recline adjustment, one-step folding, swiveling wheels, and more. It’s also suitable for babies from birth to 50 pounds, so you’ll get your money’s worth. Not to mention, this beauty is sleek and comes in nine neutral colors.

$544 AT BUY BUY BABY

20% off

Nursery Necessities

Sorelle Berkley 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Changer

Grab this multi-tasking nursery essential for 1/3 off its original price. The Sorelle Berkley 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Changer does triple duty as a crib, changing table, and side table with storage. Once Baby is ready for a big-kid bed, it also converts to a toddler bed, and then a full-size bed, with accompanying parts (note that these are sold separately). Available in espresso, grey, and white, it’s ideal for small spaces or any parent looking for a piece with optimum versatility. Even better, it’s currently $100 off.

$200 AT BUY BUY BABY

33% off

Sealy Cozy Cool Hybrid 2-Stage Crib and Toddler Mattress

It’s no secret that crib mattresses are expensive, but of course, they’re essential. So, you might as well grab the Sealy Cozy Cool Hybrid 2-Stage Crib and Toddler Mattress while it’s $70 off. This dual-sided mattress has a firmer side for infants and a softer one for tots that features memory foam (how bougie). It’s also waterproof, stain-resistant, made in the USA, and most importantly, Greenguard Gold certified for safety.

$130 AT BUY BUY BABY

35% off

évolur Harlow Deluxe Power Glider Recliner

A rocking chair doesn’t just soothe your little one to sleep; it’s where you’ll share some of your sweetest moments together. And while those memories are priceless, what’s even better is scoring said chair for $70 off. The modern évolur Harlow Deluxe Power Glider Recliner has a built-in USB charger port and comes in three chic hues to go with any nursery decor. Even once Baby is grown (*sniff*), it’ll still look sleek in a living room, den, or the master bedroom.

$407 AT BUY BUY BABY

15% off

Owlet Monitor Duo Smart Sock 3 + Cam

Great for keeping or gifting, the Owlet Monitor Duo Smart Sock 3 + Cam is ideal for a mom’s ultimate peace of mind. Now for nearly the price of just the Owlet 3 Smart Sock (which is also on sale, btw), you can make sure Baby stays safe in two crucial ways. One, the wearable Smart Sock monitors heart rate and oxygen levels, alerting parents if something is amiss; and two, the video monitor will let you keep an eye on your little one via an app on your smart phone. Grab the duo now, and you’ll save $75 off its retail price.

$324 AT BUY BUY BABY

18% off

Feeding Essentials

comotomo 7-Piece Baby Bottle Gift Set

These soft, squishy baby bottles are fan favorites, so grab a set (or two) now. This seven-piece comotomo bundle comes with two 5-ounce bottles, two 8-ounce bottles, and three sets of nipples: slow flow, fast flow, and variable flow. Basically, it’ll last Baby through his or her bottle-drinking days (the only other thing you’ll need is a few more). The bottles come with either green or pink rings and are easy and fun to hold — something both moms and their littles love.

$48 AT BUY BUY BABY

Save $12

Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack

Every bottle-feeding mama knows the Boon Lawn is a countertop must-have, and if it’s going to be a fixture in the kitchen, at least it looks cute. The “grass” on this drying mat is perfect for letting clean bottles air-dry safely without retaining moisture. It’s also ideal for drying bowls, plastic utensils, pacifiers, breast pump parts, and any other baby item that gets regular washing. Yes, it’s a necessity, so you might as well get it while it’s an extra $5 off.

$20 AT BUY BUY BABY

20% off

Elvie Wearable Double Electric Breast Pump

Pumping mamas know that possibly the worst part about pumping (in addition to the time, the mess, and cleaning a million parts …) is being tied to the pump without a free hand. Enter Elvie, a wearable electric breast pump that lets you pump anytime, anywhere. (Just let that sink in for a moment.) You can stash the Elvie cups in your bra and express milk as you go about your day; track data and control the pump via an app on your phone. Yes, it’s pricey, but now you can get it for $75 off — and just think of the time and aggravation you’ll save. (You deserve it, Mama.)

$425 AT BUY BUY BABY

15% off

Fun & Play

Tiny Love Magical Tales Black & White Gymini

Baby’s first days of play and tummy time will be extra fun with this interactive gym. Filled with adorable critters, little learners will love hearing music, feeling textures, seeing contrasting colors, and more — all key in their first steps of development. Plus, it’s so cute, you won’t mind leaving it up in the living room. Save $12 by snagging it during this big sale!

$48 AT BUY BUY BABY

20% off

Baby Shark Dancing Doll Plush Toy

Oh, Baby Shark … so dang repetitive and adorable at the same time. If your LO can’t get enough of their famous finned friend, you may want to have this chubby little shark — which dances to the “Baby Shark” song, obvs — under the tree. It may drive you nuts, but at least you’ll know you got it for 25% off during the BBB Black Friday Sale.

$22.50 AT BUY BUY BABY

25% off

Edushape 50-Piece Edu Blocks

Make your lil’ builder’s dreams come true with these colorful jumbo blocks! Edushape’s 50-piece set is a fun and educational STEM toy that allows your kiddo to make forts, buildings, and anything else they imagine, to their heart’s content. We’re not sure what’s better: Keeping your kiddo occupied with a screen-free activity or saving $76 on this Black Friday deal. But no matter, you’ll get both!

$174 AT BUY BUY BABY

30% off

See more mom-approved toy and gift guides, just in time for the holidays!

The post Buy Buy Baby’s Epic Black Friday Sale Means It’s Time To Stock Up On All The Essentials appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Don’t Stress Out About That Post-Baby Rough Patch

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is eight, our second son is four, and our baby is ten months old. Our marriage has hit a minor rough patch soon after the birth of each one of them. Heck, we are in the midst of the post-third-baby rough patch right now. We aren’t having serious arguments, sleeping in separate rooms out of anger, or wondering what the hell we were thinking marrying each other. But we are arguing about dumb shit like toothpaste brands and how to load the dishwasher. Our patience for one another is not at an all-time high. We are on each other’s last nerve.

This time, I’m not freaking out. We both knew we should anticipate feeling out-of-sorts for a while this time. It’s still annoying, but it’s less stressful to both of us because we know it will pass.

The first time, it totally threw me for a loop. When our oldest baby was born, we started out on a cloud. My loving, devoted husband was, unsurprisingly, the partner of my dreams. Those first two months were marital bliss.

But right around week eight, my delightful partner started getting on my damn nerves.

I started getting on his, too. For the next few months, we just couldn’t seem to get it together. We both adored our new baby, and we loved each other, too. But things didn’t feel normal. We had the stupidest arguments, annoyed each other, and just generally didn’t feel like ourselves. It was frustrating and confusing. Somehow, by our baby’s first birthday, things were back to normal. We hit our stride without really noticing. Turns out, our marriage was fine. Babies are just stressful AF.

Three years later, after our second baby, the same thing happened. When he was little, we made a pact to get through it. We still argued a little more than usual and annoyed each other, but it was a tiny bit easier than the first time because we knew what was coming.

We are on our third (last!) kid now. She’s ten months old, but she is way more intense than either of the first two. She requires constant attention, she sleeps like crap, and she nurses like a newborn, every 7 minutes around the clock. But this tough season has taken less of a toll on our marriage than I expected because we are champs now. We can see these rough patches coming a mile away, and we hunker down and make it through together.

This is normal. Lots of marriages feel the strain when a baby comes in and shakes up everything. I mean, there are bunch of totally understandable reasons that a new baby might make your marriage a little extra challenging for a while. Think about it.

You’re both exhausted.

In addition to the fact that you still have to work, cook, maintain relationships, keep your house in some semblance of order and parent your other children, you’ll be getting a lot less sleep. Most babies wake up to eat overnight for at least the first six months. That means you never get to sleep the entire night. Ever. Adjusting to that is a bitch.

My husband would happily wake to change a diaper or keep me company in the early weeks when I was trying to get the hang of breastfeeding. Once the whole thing was established, there wasn’t really much he could do to help, but he was still tired. The baby woke up every two hours, and I had to get up to feed him, which woke my husband, too.

(Sure, he went right back to sleep, and I had to sit there awake for a half hour, just watching him on his back, snoring—while his useless nipples taunted me in the moonlight. Then again, he had to get up early for work and I could nap with the baby, so I guess it evened out.)

You have, like, zero alone time.

When your baby is tiny, there’s not as much time to just sit together and chat, catch up on each other’s day, pay bills, and do your usual activities. At least one of you is working to fund this tiny human’s life, and you’re both keeping your life running. You’re still as busy as ever with non-baby stuff, and now your baby is just kind of always there needing something, too. I don’t know about you, but I totally took for granted how easy it was to feel close and connected to my partner before we had kids. We were alone together a lot, and that one-on-one time allowed us to stay on the same page. When a new baby is around, time is a precious commodity.

Frequent sex isn’t always on the agenda.

I don’t know about you, but knowing my tiny, helpless baby is nearby and might need something at any minute makes it really hard for me to feel remotely sexy. Some couples are able to jump right back into a robust sex life, but that hasn’t been my experience. Needy babies mean less time for nookie. It takes me a few months to get my babies on a schedule that allows our sex life to ramp back up.

Older kids still need you, even when there’s a new baby.

Every time you add another kid, the whole dynamic of the house changes, and of course the other relationships are going to feel it. That includes your marriage, but it also includes the older children. Their needs don’t change when a little one enters the picture, so if your baby isn’t your first baby, you’re stretched really thin. Helping the sibling transition run smoothly and meeting your kids’ usual needs while also tending to the million demands of a brand-new baby consumes time and energy that you would usually be able to dedicate to your spouse. It will even out eventually, but there’s just less of each of you to go around for a while.

Your partner’s quirks seem way more annoying when you’re stressed and tired.

Maybe on a normal day, your spouse’s little idiosyncrasies don’t bother you. You might even find them endearing. But when there’s a tiny infant screaming in your ear and pooping 70 times a day, suddenly it’s not so cute that your spouse can sleep through a brass band, or is incapable of putting their dirty socks in the hamper. Babies are loud, clingy, and needy, and it just depletes you. You fuse is shorter, and that makes the normal annoyances of everyday life feel like a rough patch.

It’s just totally normal and really common for marriages to hit a few bumps in the road when there’s a baby in the house. If things feel a little rocky after baby, don’t panic. If your marriage was solid before the baby, it’s not likely that it’s in peril. You’re just feeling that post-baby stress, and a little rough patch is to be expected.

I wish someone had told me about the post-baby rough patch. It’s kind of a mini-rough patch. I like to call it a “scratchy patch.” For a few months, you’re just annoyed, tired, stressed out and out-of-sync. You’ve added an entire new human into your routine, and that changes the dynamic of the whole house. If your otherwise healthy, happy, solid marriage gets a little topsy-turvy after you have a baby, don’t panic. Babies grow up. You’ll totally figure it out.

The post Don’t Stress Out About That Post-Baby Rough Patch appeared first on Scary Mommy.

The Questions ‘Old’ Moms Ask Themselves When Considering A Late-In-Life Baby

Becoming an “old new mom” was never part of my plan, but here I am. And while I’m so grateful for my beautiful family, having a child later in life has definitely been a different experience. The path leading to my geriatric pregnancy looked much the same as it does for lots of women. Very career-driven, I spent the better part of my twenties and early thirties in college earning my doctorate and working (as my dad would say, “like a borrowed mule”), so my focus was simply elsewhere. It wasn’t until right around the time that I met my husband at age 34 that I first began to hear the faintest sound of my biological clock ticking.

Over time, as tends to happen, that ticking became louder. When my husband and I got married, I was blessed to become a stepmom to the sweetest boy ever born … but I couldn’t shake the strengthening desire to add to our family. And so, one fall afternoon in my 37th year of life, my husband and I decided that our DNA was worth combining and that we wanted a baby.

A few weeks later, I was staring at two little pink lines that would change my life (and brain) forever. I didn’t know it then, but I would be joining a growing sisterhood of women having babies at an “advanced maternal age”.

As excited as I was about becoming a mother, pregnancy and childbirth were definitely not kind to my aging body. Right before I went in for my scheduled C-section, I remember someone asking me if we would ever have another baby. Practically snorting at the absurdity of that question, I emphatically answered, “HELL NO! WHO ON EARTH WOULD DO THIS TWICE…ON PURPOSE???”

And then it happened.

I woke up in the recovery room and held that sweet little newborn baby in my arms and gazed upon his angelic face for the first time. He had his daddy’s eyes and his mama’s nose. I was captivated, overpowered by a wave of emotion that I still struggle to describe. I literally burst into tears because I couldn’t take how beautiful he was. Without a doubt, I was in love and my former self who didn’t “get” what this motherhood thing was all about was gone … forever.

Fast forward to the present. I am now 40 with a two-year-old, whom I love more and more with each passing day. Our son is a smart, funny, vivacious little firecracker who has been an absolute blessing to our family. Now that he is walking (running), talking (yelling), and potty trained (eh, mostly), our life has started to settle into a nice, comfortable rhythm … which, of course, means that all I can think about for the past eight months is having another baby.

Wait. WHAT?!? I mean, clearly this child has broken something in my brain, right? Seriously … have I lost my ever loving mind?!?

Like any logical person facing this conundrum, I’ve made a list of the pros and cons. The tally is solidly in favor of us being one and done … but all the logic in the world doesn’t stop the thoughts, the questions, and the longing. And, since so many more women are having kids later in life, it has become increasingly clear to me from conversations and online message boards that what I’m experiencing is a very common predicament … paralysis by analysis that places you squarely on the fence. Without a doubt, the emotionally taxing decision of whether to attempt conception amid diminishing opportunities is one that unites older moms because we likely feel some version of the same stress, uncertainty, and pressure.

So, if you’re an old mom on the fence trying to explain this to someone (or married to an old mom on the fence and trying to figure out what the hell is going on in her head), here are a few questions that are likely being considered … about 100 times per day.

Is it worth the risk?

The statistics for pregnancy after 40 are scary, and the risks to both mom and baby are very real. First and foremost, it’s harder to get and stay pregnant. And, if you’re lucky enough to conceive and carry to term, there are a host of other concerns. I could share some of the stress-inducing numbers, but if you’re on the fence with me, you’ve probably been secretly reading them on your phone anyway. And, as if that wasn’t enough, many of us are also having to weigh these risks in 2020. So in addition to just the normal, everyday uncertainties, we also have to consider a global pandemic that puts pregnant women at a higher risk (and older, high risk pregnant women presumably at an even higher risk than that).

Given the variables, it feels ludicrous to even think about having a baby right now. But then you read an article about a lady who had three healthy pregnancies after 40 … or you know a woman who knows a woman who became an old new mom during the pandemic with no problems whatsoever, and you think, see? A seemingly endless number of other women are out there dodging the complications every day … so why not me? And is there really anything worth having that doesn’t come with at least a certain amount of risk?

Am I just too old?

The pregnancy amnesia that comes with motherhood is a force to be reckoned with … it has to be, otherwise the world would be full of only children. But, even looking back through the strongest of rose-colored glasses, I still remember how hard it was growing a baby in this old body. What weighs on me heavily is that I’m 100% certain that pregnancy would be even worse now because I’m almost three years older … and chasing around a perpetually busy two-year-old.

Would I seriously be able to keep up with an energetic three-year-old while pregnant (especially if it’s even harder than the last one)? And forget about pregnancy, will I be able to put myself back together while keeping up with a newborn baby AND a toddler (who still doesn’t consistently sleep through the night)?

Regardless of how sad it makes me feel to admit it, I have to consider the simple fact that maybe I’m just too old to do it again. I mean, sure, lots of other moms do it. In fact, not only do I know a surprising number of women who have had multiple kids later in life, but when I think about them collectively, they all have one thing in common … they all seem much younger than they actually are. Maybe it’s because no one expects to see a member of AARP at back-to-school night … or maybe having kids later in life is actually some weird fountain of youth that keeps you younger out of necessity.

In my quest for statistics related to older mothers, I was surprised to find that the older the new mom, the more likely she is to survive to an unusually old age. In fact, there was one study that found that women who lived to at least age 100 were four times more likely to have had children while in their forties.

It really doesn’t matter how many studies I find, the future and how it will be impacted by my age still fill me with worry (even for our two-year-old). Will my body be able to keep up? Will my kid feel weird about having an old mom? Will I live long enough and be healthy enough to enjoy being a grandmother one day? Clearly there’s no way to answer these questions without a crystal ball, but the uncertainty is stressful.

Why does time seem to be going so FAST?

Seriously? When I was pregnant with my son, time moved so slowly that I was convinced that the secret to eternal life was to be pregnant. Those 10 months felt like 10 years. Since his birth, however, the clock feels like my sworn enemy. At the same time that I’m keenly aware of my fertility slipping away, so are the last moments of my son’s babyhood. It feels silly to be emotional about that because the point of having kids is to watch them grow up, but I can’t help but be overcome with sadness each time I’m forced to pack up clothes or toys he has outgrown.

As I agonize over this decision about whether or not to have another baby, I have also become acutely aware that each of my baby’s firsts is also quite possibly a last for me. There will be a last time I hold him in my arms to feed him, and a last time I rock him to sleep at night. (Even typing those words makes my eyes well up with tears.) Right now, every milestone feels like a bittersweet reminder of my aging ovaries and I find myself clinging to those baby moments in a desperate attempt to keep them from slipping away … and, despite my desperation to hold onto them, I can still feel them leaving my grasp.

At the same time, there is also this intense (albeit self-imposed) pressure to jump off the fence in an effort to beat the clock. If we decide to try for another baby, the longer I wait, the less likely it is to happen (especially since my husband and I decided years ago that measures involving medical intervention just wouldn’t be for us). My guess is that the decision that your family is complete might be a difficult one to make in any situation, but there’s a difference between making that decision on your own and having time make it for you. In a matter of months or, at best, a few short years, there will be no choice to make because these ovaries aren’t going to keep pumping out viable eggs forever, a fact about which I’m reminded at least daily.

Maybe it’s not just my fertility slipping away that I’m mourning. Maybe the impending loss of my fertility is also a reminder of my youth slipping away, as well … a reminder of my own mortality, and of how quickly our time on this Earth really is. Whatever it is, the clock seems to be ticking faster and faster … and the more I want it to slow down, the faster it goes.

Why didn’t I start earlier?

Sometimes my sadness at the possibility of having no choice but to be one-and-done turns into anger, even if for a moment. Why? Why didn’t I start earlier? In my attempt to have it all, did I put myself in this regretful position of having biology plan my family for me?

The truth is, I met my amazing husband later in life, and there’s nothing that could have changed that timeline. Having him as my husband makes me the luckiest woman on Earth, but there are still moments when I feel frustration that I’m in this position of having to weigh the risks and reward of motherhood under such a time crunch. Deep down, I know that if I was 10 years younger, this would be a non-issue.

Obviously there are never guarantees, but at least I’d have time to let our son get a year or two older before having to make this decision. It’s a hard feeling to be on the fence because you don’t want another child yet, but yet might be too late.

What if I regret this decision?

Regret is an unavoidable possibility when you make decisions … it’s just a part of life. But, we’re not talking about the same regret you might feel after having one too many slices of pizza or spending too much on a pair of shoes. No, the regret that might come as a result of this decision might be hard-hitting and could quite possibly last for the rest of my life. (I know that sounds overly dramatic, but these are the thoughts that go through my head!)

To make matters worse, there are several layers of possible regret to consider. What if I decide that I want a second baby and I’ve waited too long? What if we decide to go for it and there are serious complications and, God forbid, one or both of us doesn’t make it? On the flip side, if we decide our family is complete as is … will our two-year-old wish for a sibling to grow up with when he’s in elementary school and his older brother (my stepson) is an adult? Will I send him off to college and feel anguish at the fact that I didn’t have another child when I had the chance?

Courtesy of Suzy Lofton

I know that the weight of caring for two little ones will probably have days where it feels like too much or places temporary stress on our otherwise happy little life, but I struggle to see how I could ever regret adding another little person to our family … but what if the statistics turn out to be true and this decision ends up causing all sorts of unnecessary heartache and stress instead?

Am I just being plain old selfish?

Is my biologically-driven desire to procreate completely ignoring the reality of the impact it will have on my husband, our boys, and the rest of our family? I mean, let’s face it, we’ve already shelved our early retirement plans because we will have a kid in high school. I know we can provide a good life for our sons, including fully-funded college accounts, and still remain financially comfortable. Having another mouth to feed, another college fund to build, and additional daycare expenses (among other things) clearly takes away from the people who are already in this family.

And let’s not forget that my deciding I want to go through another pregnancy and newborn phase would clearly put everyone else in this house in the predicament of having to go through it as well. What about our toddler, who is the textbook example of a mama’s boy … would another baby take away from him and somehow make me a lesser mother? Would either of our boys feel less important or less loved? And then there’s my own aging parents (who, incidentally, had me in their mid thirties) … as the likelihood that they will need additional support increases, can I balance that with also taking care of a house full of little ones?

Am I tempting fate?

To be honest, I lucked out with our son. I got pregnant right away. I had an uneventful (albeit uncomfortable) pregnancy. I had a planned C-section with a skilled doctor and our son’s birth went completely as planned. What if I’m not that lucky this time? What if it isn’t uncomplicated or things don’t go as planned? I won the kid lottery once … should I quit while I’m ahead?

Which should I listen to – my head or my heart?

Look, I’m a smart girl. I know the risks … and the work … and the devastation it will likely cause to my body. I know that we have finally settled into a routine and life is starting to feel a little bit easier. I know another baby means losing the guest room, possibly buying a larger car, and two daycare payments. I know it will mean months (or years) of interrupted sleep, and diapers, and spit up, and crying.

I know all of this. But that doesn’t stop my heart from aching for a sweet, newborn baby, from marveling at our adorable son and wondering what other awesome little person we could create. It doesn’t stop the twinge of jealousy I feel at pregnancy and birth announcements. It doesn’t stop me from picturing our lives 10 years down the road and seeing two kids at home (my stepson will be in college by then). All of the logic and sound judgment in the world can’t stop the wondering and yearning.

There are so many upsides to being an older mom, but this has definitely been one of the unanticipated challenges for me. Make no mistake about it – the seemingly constant internal monologue and almost-daily back-and-forth, being driven by a biological clock that seems to tick louder every day, can feel positively suffocating at times.

In those moments, I have to force myself to stop, breathe, and remember just how grateful I am to have the life I have right now. There’s a picture in our bedroom that says, “I remember the days I prayed for all that I have now” and it’s so true. I can’t let my fence-sitting make me lose sight of how fortunate I already am.

I honestly don’t know how this story ends or on which side of the fence I’ll land. Until then, I’ll keep cramming our closets full of baby clothes and toys until I can decide what to do with them.

No matter the outcome, given the growing sisterhood of old new moms out there who are struggling with this very same decision, I know I’ll be in good company on either side of the fence.

The post The Questions ‘Old’ Moms Ask Themselves When Considering A Late-In-Life Baby appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I’m Done Apologizing For The Fact That I Want A Daughter

I’ll never know what it’s like to go through a pregnancy without having a sex preference. I wish I never cared from the start, but I did. Although I played sports competitively growing up and didn’t own a skirt until I was in 10th grade, I just didn’t picture myself as a boy mom. Yes, eventually I wanted babies of both sexes, but I had this fantasy in my mind of having a girl first, of her establishing a calm tone for the family and becoming my little helper and friend as she grew.

Before my husband and I had children, we optimistically wanted 4-5 children. Like so many naive pre-parent thoughts and expectations, actual parenthood would shift our desire.

There was never any consideration whether we would find out the sex of our children during pregnancy. The idea of “we want to be surprised” at birth never entered our minds. In fact, I like to say that discovering the sex of your baby is always a surprise, the only difference is when that surprise occurs. And as my friend used to say, “I find out during pregnancy so I’m not disappointed when the baby is born.” It’s better to take time to deal with that disappointment.

So when we found out our first was a boy, I bought myself (yes, myself) a cute pair of boy booties, decorated the nursery in Classic Pooh, and told myself it would be fine. (Of course he never even wore those booties as these things never fit newborns, and I probably lost them by then, and who has time and energy for multi-piece outfits. But that’s beside the point.) I told myself baby boy clothes can be cute too, and we have 3-4 chances left at a girl (remember I hadn’t experienced parenthood at that point).

And it was fine. I mean it was hard of course, as parenthood always is, especially with a newborn, and especially your first newborn. But I loved and love that little boy beyond words.

Then I was pregnant with my second baby and I was sure this time it would be a girl. But it wasn’t. And I told myself it was fine. They would be friends. I used to say, “I just wish that I could have a promise that the next one will be a girl.” But there are no promises.

The next pregnancy, at my 12 week ultrasound, the doctor told me, though it was just a guess at that point, she thought it was a girl, and the technician agreed with 90% certainty. So I held that hope for a glorious three hours, until my doctor’s office called to tell me the blood test results came in, and it was, indeed, another boy. I remember that call vividly. I remember I was driving my kids home from swim lessons, and I remember on which specific street I was. I remember how my doctor’s assistant first asked me what genders I have, and by her reaction to my answer, I knew what was coming.

It wasn’t until this third time that there were tears and depression at the news. It was a hard pregnancy for me, starting with finding out that I still wasn’t getting the girl I dreamt of. On top of that, I ended up getting the overwhelming news that I had gestational diabetes, which plunged me further into depression. Now I didn’t even have the option of eating my feelings.

And I had a lot of feelings and a lot of guilt about those feelings. I was sad and disappointed even though it felt wrong. I wondered if this pregnancy was worth it, especially having to poke a needle into my finger four times a day, having to be hyper-cautious about the foods I ate, and dealing with the anxiety of whether I would make it through the pregnancy without insulin. Then, one of my closest friends became pregnant with a girl during my pregnancy. It was hard not to be jealous no matter how hard I tried to tell myself not to compare, and to instead be grateful for what I have.

Of course I deeply love my three boys, now 6, 4, and 2. I love each of their individual personalities, even if I don’t always get their name right until the third try. I love sharing my Harry Potter obsession and my affinity to math with my eldest; I love the goofiness of my 4-year-old and watching him complete 12-year- old LEGO sets; I love the sweet, caring, cuddly, fun presence of my youngest. They are your stereotypical energetic boys who love ninjas and superheroes, building, sports, and, of course, fighting with one another. For each one present, the energy level grows exponentially.

Having three little boys is exactly as bonkers as you would expect. Parenting them isn’t what I thought it would be (definitely a lot more chaotic and louder), but I’m confident all parents would say the same. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a parent, while somehow at the same time maintaining my certainty that I want to add a fourth child.

And, although I don’t have firsthand experience with girls, I imagine they truly aren’t always sweet and calm and having glittery flower decorated tea parties attended by unicorns. I imagine my fantasy of having a little friend and helper for life, like all things in parenthood, wouldn’t turn out like I expect. And I wish I could tell you (and myself) that I’m perfectly satisfied being a boy mom. But it’s time to be honest with myself. I still want that girl, and I’m done apologizing for it.

Of course I’m grateful to have each of my healthy children, especially having had a serious health problem in my childhood. I’m grateful I had no issues conceiving, carrying, and birthing them. I know there are many people who desire all these things, and I want every woman to have all of that too. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have my own feelings about what I haven’t gotten, how important it is to me, and what I’m willing to do to get it. I can love what I have, wish for the best for others, and still yearn for something more for myself all at the same time. And if I haven’t tried everything in my power to get it, I know I’ll always regret it.

The post I’m Done Apologizing For The Fact That I Want A Daughter appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Why I Gave Up On ‘Blessing Sandwiches’

Soon after our son was born, I developed a somewhat standard response to check-in questions: “Hard and best.” That’s how I described my transition into motherhood. Because it felt impossible to mention one without the other. The sleep deprivation without the joy, the loneliness without the fulfillment, the loss of one identity without the discovery of another.

Eventually, I graduated to the blessing sandwich.

You know, the “I’m grateful I get to stay home with him. Sure, sometimes it’s isolating. But I feel really fortunate to have this time together.” Or the, “He’s a really happy baby. Still not sleeping through the night. But all the smiles during the day make up for it.”

One good thing. One hard thing. One good thing again.

Just to prove that this journey is in fact better than it is difficult. That I love it more than I struggle through it. That for every moment I’m on the verge of impatient tears, there are two more that I’m grinning and grateful. That if motherhood was a contest, and you could love your way to a victory, I would win.

And then, somewhere in the midst of all the thanksgiving, with noticeable shame rising within me, I sheepishly admit the rest.

I share the way I struggle as my mom brain fails to produce a big words or deep thoughts. How I sometimes feel like I live in a continuous loop of “when’s the last time you pooped?” and mindless errands. That it’s tough to silence the comparisons, resentments, and insecurities of my mind. How I grapple with the question of where I measure, what I’m bringing to the table, and whether or not I’m doing enough.

When I see other women who appear to be seamlessly juggling their careers and their families, I find myself thinking, “I’m just a mom.” Or when my husband tells me about his day at work, and I report back that we read books, played with blocks on the floor, and took a walk around the neighborhood, I leave out the part about feeling lonely when I saw other women talking between their yards. Or when the cashier at Target asks me if I did anything exciting over the weekend and it suddenly seems a little lame to admit that shopping at Target was the cool thing we did.

At the end of the day, I let it be known that even in the midst of tough moments, I’d never trade the life I have. I carry on about how I can hardly remember my life without our son in it. I express all the joy, pride, and appreciation I feel. I speak aloud my gratitude for the family we’ve created, for the home we’ve settled into, for the experiences we’ve had that have led us to where we are.

But somewhere along the way, I discovered that what I need more than this curated blend and imagined balance of blessing sandwiches is grace.

Grace to stop conflating the way that I feel with the love that I have.

Grace to allow the complexity and contradiction of the messy and beautiful, empty and full, doubting and trusting, and hard and good of this season, without explanation.

Grace to get through the worst, to cherish the best, and to live within the ebb and flow of the two.

Grace to know that having bad days doesn’t make me a bad mom and that having the best days doesn’t mean I’ve perfected the gig. It simply grants me space to feel both, at once or neither.

The post Why I Gave Up On ‘Blessing Sandwiches’ appeared first on Scary Mommy.

How To Cope With D-MER, From A Mom Who’s Been There

When I gave birth to my son, things were perfect. My labor was short. My contractions were straightforward. My abdomen compressed regularly, and rhythmically. 90 seconds on. 60 seconds off. And he was healthy. Clear skin. Clear lungs. Strong heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience. The doctors were patient and supportive. My wishes were seen and heard.

I also had one hell of an epidural. My body was numb from the waist down.

But the best part was my son’s demeanor. He was a happy baby. A calm baby. An easy baby, which is to say he slept well and nursed often. He latched moments after I placed him on my chest and bare breast. And it seemed breastfeeding him would be a breeze. But after a few weeks, things changed. My relationship with him and breastfeeding changed, and I became anxious.

I didn’t know who was more upset: me or the red-faced baby in my arms.

Now I know what you’re thinking: It is normal to be overwhelmed. Parenthood is hard, breastfeeding is hard, and sleep deprivation is brutal. The first few weeks are particularly trying. But there was more to my emotional instability than exhaustion. I was suffering from something called D-MER, or dysphoric milk ejection reflex.

Of course, many people do not know what D-MER is. In fact, the term is rarely used — and the condition is misunderstood. However, according to D-MER.org, an awareness-based website managed by mom and lactation consultant Alia Macrina Heise, dysphoric milk ejection reflex is “a condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes.”

To put it another way, D-MER is a negative emotional response to the physical act of your milk letting down.

“D-MER presents itself with slight variations depending on the mother experiencing it,” Heise writes, “but it has one common characteristic — a wave of negative or even devastating emotions just prior to letdown.” And that was the case with me.

My stomach hardened and sank. I could feel the milk rushing forward, and the bile rushing up. An acute wave of depression took control of my body. I felt distant, absent. My face flushed with warmth and tears, and I became afraid of a monster I could not see, of a threat which did not exist.

Mother suffering while breastfeeding
Peter Dazeley/Getty

The good news is the anxiety and sadness only lasted a few moments. The feelings disappeared as abruptly as they come on. But for two or three minutes, I felt lost in my own body. My legs shook. My arms felt leaden, not solid but heavy. Like molten metal, they lacked stability and support. And I felt nauseous. I wanted to run. I was scared.

So how did I cope? How can you cope?

Here’s the best way to manage D-MER if you want to keep breastfeeding.

Acknowledge your feelings, don’t avoid them.

The first and most important step toward managing D-MER is to understand it. After all, once you recognize there is a correlation between your physical being and your emotional one, you will know what to expect. My son fed every two hours and when I felt “on edge,” I looked at the clock. Realizing I was about to let down was very helpful. I also knew I could count through it. Before I got to 200, the feelings would likely pass. That said, 200 seconds can feel like an eternity when your body is restless and your mind is depressed. As such, it is imperative you implement coping strategies like…

Busying yourself or your hands, with exercise, food, and/or fidget devices.

While snacking may sound silly, food can help you focus on something outside of yourself. It is also easy to do while feeding your babe. Not on the couch yet? Get up and move. Running in place can (and will) burn off nervous energy.

Practice relaxation techniques, like meditation and deep breathing.

I’ve never been very good at meditating, but many people are. They find the practice centers them — and grounds them. As such, you may want to have a guided meditation at the ready, like those on Calm, Headspace, and 10% Happier.

Use the ABCs to control anxiety.

Pick a broad category of things and/or objects — like colors, desserts, or cars — and make an alphabetical list in your head. Colors, for example, would look something like this: amber, blue, cobalt, etc. If your anxiety is still elevated when you get to “z,” pick a new category and start again. The point isn’t what you pick (or how far you get), it’s that you distract your mind long enough to work through any uncomfortable or dysphoric feelings.

Text a friend or make a phone call.

Connecting with another person won’t just help your D-MER, it will help you feel less isolated and alone (which, as any new parent can tell you, is super important).

Recognize it can and will get better.

You’ve been here before — and worked through these feelings before — and you can do it again. Take it one minute and second at a time.

That said, if you are overwhelmed by D-MER and/or if these thoughts do not dissipate, you should speak to your OBGYN or another trained professional, as these feelings can also be symptoms of perinatal mood disorders.

The post How To Cope With D-MER, From A Mom Who’s Been There appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Babies Wreak Havoc On A Marriage, And It’s Time To Start Talking About It

I sat up in the middle of the night for what felt like the millionth time. My eyes were red and sore from the excessive tears streaming down my tired face. There I was, alone in the dark with one of my boobs jammed in my newborn’s mouth as she happily nursed away. Meanwhile, my husband was lying next to me with his limbs sprawled out like a hibernating bear in the dead of winter.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

If you asked me what emotions were running through me that night, I’d say a new breed of angry sad. Because yet again, my hubby Matt had miraculously slept through our daughter’s scream crying. And yet again, I wanted to beg him to get the fuck up and talk to me about anything.

Literally anything.

Prior to meeting Matt, I carried with me the burden of being a lifelong people pleaser and didn’t speak up often about my needs in past relationships. But having a child knocks that protective coping mechanism right on out of you. I was just too exhausted, too uncomfortable, and way too hormonal not to lament loudly about what I felt Matt should – and shouldn’t – be doing. The sheer resentment I felt when he wouldn’t wake up with me (or instead of me, goddammit!) resulted in a ton of hysterics to forcibly make him a part of the nighttime routine.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

Oh, and did I mention that my adorable pint-sized ball of wonder wouldn’t take a bottle ever? So when I tearfully yelled at my hubby to wake the eff up, it was solely for the emotional comfort and a feeling of sharing equally in our new duties together. Even if Matt couldn’t feed his baby yet, I needed him to be there for his unbearably vulnerable wife. But the way I communicated with him usually left something to be desired, causing my grumpy ass husband to get pissy with me at the most inconvenient times in the night.

This challenge, along with a shit ton of others, led to more fights between us in that first year than I’d like to admit. Let’s just say we fought a lot. The ongoing conflict made me feel like an asshole so much of the time. It left me wondering if we just weren’t mean to be parents together. And even though Matt and I genuinely loved each other, the “D” word was definitely put on the table in the darkest of moments. Despite desperately wanting to know, I didn’t feel comfortable to ask other moms if they too were ugly sparring with their partners-in-crime.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

I realize now that they were probably feeling way too uncomfortable to ask me either.

As new parents, no one wants to openly admit that a tiny human has the potential to destroy the status quo of a loving relationship – or break down an already faulty one. We’re taught to “soak up every moment” with our babies because “it goes by way too fast.” But how can we enjoy that first year if we spend most of it arguing with our spouses in shame-induced secrecy?

It’s time to go public about a very private issue so many of us deal with but no one seems chomping at the bit to start talking about. Babies have the very real ability to wreak havoc on a marriage, and we need to widen our judgment-free zones to safely start opening up about it.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

Thankfully, quite a few couples have recently done just that. Because someone got the genius idea to tally up just how many arguments new parents have. And I’m going to warn you, the number is staggering.

The folks at ChannelMum.com and The Baby Show decided to ask OnePoll to conduct a survey on babies and marital strife. Their results found that in the first year of parenthood, couples can get into an average of 2,500 fights with each other.

I’m going to repeat that a little louder, for the parents in the back.

The average married couple can have up to 2,500 arguments in the first year of their kid’s life.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

Let that reality sink in for a minute.

The 2,000 parents who were surveyed shared a bunch of obstacles that placed a heavy strain on their transformed relationships. The most common fights centered around who wasn’t pulling their weight with the new responsibilities, competing for the “most tired” award, and sex not happening anymore. Nighttime parenting duties were argued about as well, along with stress around finances.

And not only were most parents feeling a lack of romantic connection, but a third of the couples admitted to going up to five days without talking to their partner.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

Here’s where it gets painfully real. For every ten parents surveyed, at least six brave souls confessed that they were completely unprepared for how much a new baby would change their lives. I’m going to guess that this number would be much higher if the rest of the parents had to take a lie detector test. Because no matter how ready you think you are for a baby, you are never ever ready enough. In fact, the unexpected challenges surrounding the first year of parenthood led a fifth of the surveyed couples to break up for good.

I don’t know about you, but that last sentence in particular is one giant bummer. But hang in there, folks. There’s an upside to all of this.

First of all, no amount of skills in the marriage department left the interviewed couples unscathed from verbal battles. Which at the very least, can provide some comfort to those of us (i.e. me) who feel like we suck at being married. For the seasoned veterans, remembering how very human you are has the potential to help ease the blows when emotions are running high.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

“Even those couples who usually communicate brilliantly can find the first few months of having a baby tough, and arguments are a really normal part of the adjustment process,” says ChannelMum.com founder Siobhan Freegard in a public release of the study. “Lack of sleep during the early months and getting used to the new-found responsibilities can pile pressure on new parents and contribute to arguments,” she explains.

In terms of what helped the couples through this rough ass time, 23% of parents polled sought out a support system of friends and credit that with easing their parenting burdens. Others said that sharing in overnight duties, having sex regularly, and enjoying some semblance of a social life helped them cope with the extraordinary changes parenthood brings with it. “Making time for each other can be just as important as learning how to look after the baby, as happy parents will naturally result in a happy child,” Freegard says.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

In the age of Google, we now assuredly know that information can be so powerful. Arming ourselves with the honest-to-goodness knowledge about the entire first year of parenting can help us come up with real solutions when the natural and inevitable marital conflicts arise. And more importantly, realizing we are all basically fighting the same battle here can allow us to feel seen, heard, and supported. Because let’s face it — learning how to become a parent alongside someone you love is a shit show, plain and simple.

I’ve discovered a whole lot through two brutal rounds of new parenting. There is no damn shame in having messy moments in a relationship, especially when it involves caring for a small baby. You are not broken if you feel like you can’t be yourself with your partner after you’ve birthed a child. It’s okay to speak up if you’re overextending yourself as a new parent. And good lord, give yourself a friggin’ break if you’ve lost your temper hundreds of times in the most sleep deprived state you will ever experience.

Many of the reasons Matt and I argued that first year were easily justifiable. But I’m still cringing and laughing when I think back to how ridiculous it was to fight at a time when so much was already up against the both of us. Now, I at least understand why we argued so much — and why it is so totally okay to talk about it.

The post Babies Wreak Havoc On A Marriage, And It’s Time To Start Talking About It appeared first on Scary Mommy.