Before Having Kids

Before having kids, I always fantasized about what they would look like. Would they have my eyes and their dad's nose? My smile and his jawline? What I didn't fantasize about was 3 AM wake-ups, diaper blowouts in the car, and tantrums in the middle of Target.

Reality hit me hard when I had my son. Why didn't anyone tell me that breastfeeding was anything but intuitive? My nipples looked like they'd been through war. Truth be told, they kind of had. I had thrush along with multiple rounds of mastitis. I felt like I'd already failed as a mother when my OBGYN pleaded with me to stop breastfeeding because she worried I'd end up with postpartum depression. So I listened. I stopped breastfeeding at eight weeks. I was devastated, but the alternative would have been much worse. And my formula-fed son thrived anyway.

When he was just nine months old, I was pregnant again. It wasn't planned, per se, but we knew we'd wanted another child, just not so soon after our son was born. My body had barely recovered from my first pregnancy. Being pregnant with number two was a whole new ball game. Nine months goes by much faster when you're chasing after a toddler. I thought I'd never sleep again. My biggest mistake was taking the family on a trip to Disneyland at six months pregnant in the middle of the summer. What the hell was I thinking? Turns out I wasn't thinking at all. At least not rationally. I was feeling serious guilt about having another child so soon. Would he ever remember what it was like to have mommy and daddy all to himself? Maybe if we take him to Disneyland before number two is born, it will ease the trauma of having another child join the family. Yeah, I'm sure our son, at 15 months old, will remember this very special trip to Disneyland. (Spoiler alert: he doesn't.) You know what I remember? Him shitting on the floor in our overpriced hotel room and then stepping in it. Don't get me wrong, we had some really nice moments, too. But if I had to do it over again, I'd opt for Hawaii instead.

Once my daughter was born, I was determined to get breastfeeding right. I hired a lactation consultant immediately upon leaving the hospital. It was money well spent. She helped me get through those painful first few days when my milk came in, and we perfected the latch. Hallelujah! Some things were definitely easier the second time around. Having just been through it, we knew what to expect. Only now there were two tiny people to take care of. Right out of the gate, my son caught a case of hand-foot-and-mouth disease followed by a hardcore sleep regression. Luckily, the baby was spared of that nasty virus and my husband dealt with the sleep regression -- mainly due to the fact that our daughter was attached to me 24/7. I could not put that child down without her screaming bloody murder for the first three months of her life. She'd fall asleep in my arms and I'd wait until I thought she was in a deep sleep, but the second I attempted to put her down, it was over. I was exhausted. After a routine visit to our pediatrician, I got the OK to start sleep training (Ferber method, no regrets), and it was a total game changer. I finally had my bed back, and it wasn't long after that she began sleeping through the night.

Going back to work full-time was its own adjustment but, to be honest, it was nice to be able to eat lunch alone or with other adults. I'm also super lucky to work for a company that is so family-friendly and flexible. My husband works in the city and takes the bus most days, so I do all the

preschool drop-offs and pick-ups. He works in advertising, which means his schedule is extremely unpredictable. Most nights he doesn't get home until 7:30 or 8:00 PM, which makes evenings a bit more, dare I say, chaotic; especially after we’ve both worked a full day and everyone is tired and cranky. But we have our routine down to a T and it's becoming easier lately with the kids--now 3.5 and 2 years old. The best part is we are officially potty trained and out of diapers! YAY!

Speaking of the potty, here's something I never fantasized about -- hearing my kid yell across the house "Mommy, can you wipe my tushy?!" Yeah, nobody tells you about that. But it's these unexpected joys that make motherhood, well, motherhood.