The 12 Biggest Surprises of New Motherhood

Once-Bachelorette Jen Schefft has been a new mom to daughter Mae, who was born November 13, all of two months, and she's already saying she has been quite surprised by the experience.

Schefft says motherhood and her feelings about it are really different than she expected:

"I knew that I would love her this much, but I didn't really know how that actually felt until she got here," Schefft told US Weekly. "I'm definitely not as laid back as I thought or hoped I would be!"

It's so true. That first year of motherhood really is such an education. Looking back, it truly was the best year of my life, but that fact didn't make it an easy or an expected one.

Here were some of my biggest shocks from the first year:

  1. Labor: The first big surprise comes after the first phase of labor. I had planned (and did execute) an all-natural labor. But all the Hypnobirthing in the world couldn't prepare me for my first major contraction. The word "intense" cannot even describe it.
  2. Minute 1: My daughter emerges, beautiful and perfect in every way. Even though I cry now remembering and I cried during pregnancy anticipating it, at the moment, I am just so relieved. All I can do is think of my poor vagina. Seriously. That was a surprise.
  3. Day 2: Wow, my baby nurses a lot. I thought she would take three meals a day in a dignified fashion. I didn't realize she would suck on my nipple (which kind of hurts, ouch) for 8 hours a day.
  4. Day 4: My aunt is staying with us and sends us out to dinner. I sit in the sushi restaurant and cry. I am looking at all the people around me. Their lives didn't change. "What have we done?" I ask my husband even as I check my watch and phone 30 times a minute.
  5. Day 10: Paternity leave ends. Wait, you mean our cocooning family of three only lasts this long? You mean I have to be alone with the baby? I have no idea how to do this.
  6. Month 2: All I care about is this baby. I can't go back to work. I'm quitting my job, something I swore I would never do. I just can't stand the thought of finding childcare for her.
  7. Month 2.5: Wait, you mean we can't just go out anymore? We need to hire a babysitter? How did that happen?
  8. Month 6: I totally have the hang of this, this is easy.
  9. Month 6.5: This is the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm never flying across the country with a baby again. What idiot thinks a baby is portable?
  10. Month 9: Surprise! That's how babies are made. Baby #2 should be just as fun! (Oh how many more surprises were in store ...)
  11. Month 11: My baby is done nursing. I planned to nurse her much longer, but she won't even come near me. My midwife tells me my milk changed because of the pregnancy. I go through a pretty intense grief period while my hormones level out. No one ever told me that weaning had a potential depression component.
  12. Month 12: Am I really planning my baby's first birthday? People always say it goes fast, but you never believe them ...

What were your biggest surprises the first year?

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