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6 Things That Really Hit Me After I Became a Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn't really realize the full implications of having a baby. From the moment he was born, I was overcome with waves of emotion that kept happening on the regular, and even though I went through it once before, these things continued to surprise me the second, third and fourth times through, too.

None of these are a huge shocker, in and of themselves. We all know that babies and kids can make us feel things we've never felt before, but knowing it can happen and going through them are two entirely different things.

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1. A newborn's cry can pierce the heart

The first time I heard a child of mine cry it sounded so weird and distant—but those tiny wails certainly went straight to my heart, as if he was lost in a forest and I had to work to find him in a pile of leaves. The slow realization that those wails were intended for me caused me to feel needed, but at the same time I also felt like maybe this was too big of a responsibility for me—and that was pretty scary.

2. Newborns have an amazing suckling motor

Even after birthing and breastfeeding three kids, I was still shocked at how strong my fourth kid's suckle was after she was born. Babies are almost always born ready to nurse to within an inch of their lives, and it's definitely a good thing—but those first few nursing sessions can make you want to jump out of your bed when your baby's vacuum cleaner mouth clamps down on your nipple.

Nothing says, "You're out of control, Mom," like a sick baby.

3. Bringing your baby home can be kind of weird

I remember bringing my fourth baby home in particular (probably because she is my last baby.) I was sitting on the couch, holding her, and thinking, "Well, here's your house, kiddo." When you think about it, it's kind of bizarre that you have this new baby and she just gets to live with you and that's that. Baby has an insta-family, and you have a baby.

4. A sick child can make you feel helpless

The first time my first child got sick, he was nine months old. He had a fever and was acting unlike his usual cheery self. So naturally I fled to the ER, where he was diagnosed with viral pharyngitis—in other words, he had a really bad sore throat and there really wasn't anything we could do except administer fever reducers and keep him topped up with fluids. But even though his illness was mild, I will never forget how naked and helpless I felt when he was laying limp in my arms as he burned a fever. Nothing says, "You're out of control, Mom," like a sick baby.

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5. People being mean to your kid can invoke incredible wrath

When other children pick on, insult or try to fight with your child, you can physically feel the mother bear within you sharpening her claws and flossing her teeth as your face heats up and your chest swells. Whether you act on these urges or not, it's an experience that nearly every mom can relate to, and it's dizzying how quick those feelings rise to the surface.

6. High school graduation is serious business

I knew that when my first kid graduated high school, it was going to be a pretty big deal. But I was seriously underprepared for how the whole experience would move me. Again, I felt like I was completely out of control as a bevy of emotions washed over me, and I was almost relieved when my youngest got antsy and wanted to walk around for a bit during his ceremony. Now, when she graduates 12 or so years from now, I will definitely be a huge, huge mess. But at least I know how her graduation (and that of her other brother and sister before her) will affect me and I can be more prepared. Right? Right?!

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