Why are people so negative about parenthood?


“You’re a glutton for punishment!”

“I hope you aren’t planning to sleep again any time soon!”

As soon as you announce a pregnancy, the comments start rolling in – and while many of them are positive, of course, it’s amazing just how many of them revolve around the theme of, “Haha, you’ve totally ruined your life: can’t WAIT to see how this one pans out!” <insert popcorn emoji>

I started noticing these comments a few years ago – back when my friends started having children, and I’d scroll through their Facebook announcements, and be absolutely amazed at how much negativity was sprinkled through the congratulatory messages. It was obviously all well-meant, but as someone who was already pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to deal with pregnancy and childbirth, the endless comments about sleepless nights and relentless drudgery did a pretty good job of convincing me I wouldn’t be able to handle parenthood, either. Now that I’m pregnant myself, I’m still worrying about that one: but I’m mostly just wondering, WHY? Why are people so negative about parenthood? And is it REALLY as bad as it’s often made out to be?

Here, for instance, are some of the things I’ve been led to believe will be the inevitable result of becoming a parent:

Good Vibes OnlyI will never sleep again – ever. (Or not for AT LEAST 5 years, anyway – which feels like much the same thing to me.)

I like my sleep: I like it quite a lot, in fact, and I’ve been liking it even MORE since I got pregnant, and 10pm started feeling like an outrageously late night to me. Lazy weekend mornings are one of the things I live for – and, as I’m self-employed, I have to admit that lazy weekday mornings aren’t too shabby either. I genuinely worry about how I’ll cope with the approximately zero hours of sleep per night I’m told I can expect once the baby’s here: surely I’ll be able to sleep SOME of the time… won’t I?

I will not be able to wear any of my favourite clothes again.

According to the all-knowing internet, even if I do manage to lose the baby weight (Which I won’t, because no one has ever done this in the history of forever, apparently, and anyone who says they have is a straight-up liar…), my body will still be totally different (Boobs down to my knees, hips so wide I’ll have to enter rooms sideways, etc, etc…), which means that, instead of spending years building up a wardrobe of clothes I love, I should really just have taken all my money and set fire to it: WOE!

None of my shoes will fit me, and I’ll have to throw them all away.

Especially the high heels, because even if my feet DON’T change shape (Which they will, because the internet said so…), no woman has ever been able to walk in heels – or, indeed, wanted to – following the birth of a child. There are no exceptions to this, so again, I should probably just throw away all of my shoes now, and start trying to make peace with the unfortunate way my legs look in flats. It’s OK, though, because…

I will not care about any of this! My priorities will totally shift, and none of the things I cared about before will matter any more!

I mean, I guess you could see this as a good thing – I certainly think the people who say it intend it to come across that way – but while I’m sure my priorities WILL change dramatically once I become a parent, I’m also pretty freaked out by the idea that my PERSONALITY will apparently change, too: to an extent that makes it sound like I’ll barely even recognise myself. (And not just because of the flat shoes and totally new wardrobe, which, wow, is going to cost a FORTUNE, OMG!) It’s actually quite hard to explain this, but, well, I guess it’s just that I’ve had a very long time to get used to being ME, and it’s a little bit freaky to think about this complete stranger arriving to take my place. I can’t really imagine myself as this smug, holier-than-thou person who goes around saying, “Oh no, I don’t wear MAKEUP: I have much more important things to worry about!” but that’s what I’m led to believe will happen. I apologise in advance.

My house will always be filthy and untidy: specifically, it will be coated in a thin crust of LEGO at all times, and the baby/toddler will draw on all of the walls. It will not be possible to control or stop this.

I’ve long suspected that people think my white walls are a lot more important to me than they actually are, to  be honest, but this whole, “the child will draw on the walls” thing was still a surprise to me, because I’ll let you in on a secret: I once WAS a child (Yes, it’s true!), and my parents tell me that no, I did not draw on any walls. (And my parents’ walls were OMGWHITE, too!) My friend’s children ALSO don’t seem to do much drawing on walls: mine, however, apparently will – and they will smear poop on them, too. Yes, POOP. I, meanwhile, probably won’t bother to clear this mess up, because I’ll be too exhausted/have better things to do with my time, so my house will slowly start to look like something from an episode of Hoarders, and I will not care one jot.

Now, despite what you might think, I’m not totally naive: I’m not expecting the house to be immaculate at all times (It’s not immaculate at all times NOW, actually: don’t believe everything you see on Instagram, folks!) but I’m always a bit taken-aback by the sheer GLEE with which people tell me what a mess my house is about to become. One woman recently told me she “couldn’t wait” to see my white walls get ruined: again, I’m sure she didn’t mean it the way it came across, but I just thought, WHY? Why would you be so keen to see that happen? To “teach me a lesson”? Because you want to see me fail? Or you just REALLY hate my walls, and want me to have to paint them? I have no idea, but I genuinely can’t imagine looking at someone’s home and thinking, “I really hope that gets ruined!” so stuff like this has me scratching my head for a very long time…

I will not be able to go to the bathroom on my own for at least 5 years.

Because there will always be a baby/toddler with me: sometimes it will sit on my knee while I use the bathroom, and I will tolerate this, because there will be no other option. (“WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO TERRY?” is what I always wonder when I hear this one.  “WHAT DO YOU KNOW THAT I DON’T?”) This one troubles me a bit because I’m the kind of person who frequently needs a bit of “alone” time to stop me completely losing my tiny mind. I’m not expecting to have a whole lot of that for the first few years at least, but, well, a bathroom trip generally takes me 2 minutes, max, and the thought that I won’t even have TWO MINUTES to myself, EVER is kind of mind-boggling, really. (With that said, Rubin used to frequently try to accompany me to the bathroom, and, when I didn’t let him come in with me, would valiantly try to insert his head underneath the door, so I guess I should be used to this kind of thing…)

For the first year, I will basically never change out of my dressing gown: ever.

Because the baby will have to be held constantly (No, seriously: WHERE WILL TERRY BE?), and will never be able to be put down, so there won’t ever be time for me to get dressed. No one has said this to me directly (A lot of these are things I’ve read online, or heard said to other people…), but I’ve heard so many friends talking about still being in their dressing gowns at dinner time that I have to believe it’s totally true. To be perfectly honest, I spend a lot of time in my dressing gown even NOW (And during the vomit-tastic weeks 8 and 9 of my pregnancy, it was pretty much all I wore…), so I’m not too precious about the wearing of the gown – again, it’s really just the thought of not even having two minutes spare to pull on a pair of jeans and a sweater that bothers me. And by “bothers me” I mean, “Kind of terrifies me, actually.”

There is another side to all of this, though.

Since I started writing about my pregnancy – and, more specifically, about my fears – I’ve had quite a few people contact me to tell me that, actually, things don’t necessarily HAVE to be as downright awful as some would have me believe. Thanks to those people, I now know that it’s not necessarily a given that, shortly after giving birth, my house will fall down due to sheer neglect, and all of my clothes will run screaming out of the closet. They’ve told me that, yes, there will be some serious adjustment involved (And I’m absolutely expecting that: as I said, I’m not totally naive, and I’m really not expecting that absolutely nothing will change…), but that my life won’t necessarily come screeching to a shuddering halt, and my personality won’t just change overnight. I love those people: they’re the ones who’ve given me hope that I can still be ME at the end of all this, and still enjoy (most) of the things I always have – in fact, they’ve told me I might even enjoy them MORE. Imagine that!

I also know that my real life friends haven’t changed at all in the way I’m told is inevitable after having children. Yes, their lives are different now, but THEY’RE all still the same. So I have friends who have clean houses AND toddlers; I have friends who look exactly the same as they did pre-baby, and who wear the same clothes, too; I have friends who still enjoy the things they’ve always enjoyed – and who really enjoy parenthood, too.

The problem is, though, that most people don’t tend to talk about the positive aspects of parenthood unless they’re prompted, which means that the narrative surrounding it continues to be this gleeful, “Just you wait!” schadenfreude-drenched negativity, which makes people like me often wonder what the hell they’ve let themselves in for. In six months time, will I still be more-or-less the same person I am now (or on my way back to being that person, at least…), or will I be this strange Imposter Amber I keep hearing about, and don’t even recognise?

You tell me…


Hi, I'm Amber, and I'm a full-time parenting/lifestyle blogger, and author of My Blogging Secrets, now available from Amazon. I live in Scotland with my husband, Terry, and baby son, Max, and you can read more about me here.

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  1. T only one of those things I found to be true was the feet size, I did go from a 5 to a 6. I did get a good sleeper (although we did get him into a routine early on) who doesn’t cling to me all the time, which helped enormously, but the constant “just you wait” nonsense is ridiculous. I had PND, only recently diagnosed, but even I can say that parenting is hard BUT also really fun, really funny, and generally an exciting adventure.

    Also, it’s a really great reason to leave boring parties early.

    • yes mine too! which I was pretty devastated about tbh. My pregnancy was kind of unexpected so I had just treated myself to some very nice shoes, I can still look at them I suppose? ; D

  2. I think this is an interesting one as well, and it’s one side of the whole ‘sanctimommy’ culture that you see on the internet – the site STFU Parents is some insight into this, I guess. As a non-parent, my perspective is that becoming a parent is like any other major life shift: it doesn’t change you, but it amplified whatever is there. I have lots of friends and family members who are parents and they’re the same as they were before – and, in terms of my relationship with them, there’s just another person for me there to love! But I do know people who have seemed to change after parenthood – people who have disappeared into parenthood, who only talk about their kids, who no longer socialise with their non-parent friends. However, they were already a bit like that, and they’re in the minority. You have a strong sense of who you are and what your priorities are – it’s hard to imagine that this aspect of your personality will change radically, although of course as your landscape changes your priorities will evolve as well.

    • “I have lots of friends and family members who are parents and they’re the same as they were before – and, in terms of my relationship with them, there’s just another person for me there to love!”

      This has been my experience as well, but yeah, I do often come across Facebook accounts (mostly via groups) where the person has changed their Facebook name to “FirstName Baby’sMummy LastName” or has just changed their first name to “Baby’sMummy” and I always find that a bit mindboggling, in that they actively seem to want to lose their own identity. I get that it must be be such an all-consuming thing, though, especially in the early days – I just always get a bit scared when people tell me I’m going to change beyond all recognition!

      • That surprises me too. One friend changed her social media name to Mummy McMumface, which… o_O. The only way I can rationalise it is to think that these people want this seeming total identity change because it’s by no means inevitable.

        • I always wonder, too, about the people who feel the need to pile in with negativity. Like, what service do they think they’re performing? Do they *really* think that you’re completely unaware of the fact that having a baby means that you’re going to be responsible for taking care of a baby? Nic and I have a name for this phenomenon – we call it ‘Legolanding’ (it’s a silly Alan Partridge reference) so when someone leaves you a totally obvious and usually negative comment on social media, that’s Legolanding. I get it all the time – one of my favourites was when we were in NYC last year and I instagrammed a picture of a pretty street in Park Slope and said that this part of Brooklyn was very pretty. I IMMEDIATELY got a reply to say ‘It’s all well and good when you’re on holiday but living here is very different!’ which… well, OBVIOUSLY. What did that add to the conversation other than to throw cold water over me for saying something positive? LEGOLAND. There’ll always be Legolanders.

          • THIS. The main thing I tend to see on pregnancy announcements (or ANYTHING pregnancy-related, really…) is the thing about lack of sleep, and I always just think, SERIOUSLY? Do the people who make these comments really think this is brand new information, and that the newly-pregnant person is going to be astonished to hear that a new baby probably won’t just sleep for 9 hours every night? Or are going to be all, “Oh, OK, I think I’ll just send it back then, this has obviously been a huge mistake!”?

  3. My mum has had six of us and to this day is the most fastidious woman alive. She still kept the house spotless, the walls stayed white and it was much appreciated. What’s more she always went back to a size 8 post-baby. When she was about to have my little brother I called for an ambulance – meanwhile my mum was upstairs doing her make-up!

    Take no heed of the smug people who tell you how you’ll be when the baby comes. If you are these things then fine if it’s your choice, but no one has to be a certain way because they’ve produced a small person.

    • It’s interesting: any time I speak to members of the “older generation” about this stuff, and ask if they wore dressing gowns 24/7 and had poop-smeared walls, they just look at me blankly, and are all, “Er, no? Why would we?” I’ve obviously no idea which version of parenthood is the correct one (probably a bit of both, I’d imagine), but it’s always interested me that it seems to be so different now from the experience people of my parents’ generation had!

  4. I am really enjoying all your posts on pregnancy and upcoming parenthood. I don’t have children but so much of what you are hearing, being told or thinking about is exactly what I have experienced and end up worrying/thinking about. It’s great – I’m not alone! With every major life experience, new job, moving house, getting married, having children, etc, you get constant “friendly advice” that is thinly-veiled scaremongering and doom-laded predictions and it’s so frustrating. If things are SO BAD, why would anyone do these things at all? We are all different and able to make our own decisions: just because you did doesn’t mean i will. People like to hand over their advice (occasionally really great, mostly – sadly – not) and then be able to gleefully say ‘told you so!’ should it come true. You are completely right about no one saying great things about having kids (/new job/house/wedding, etc) until you press them for it – maybe we like to moan too much and that’s our first thoughts!!

    • “you get constant “friendly advice” that is thinly-veiled scaremongering and doom-laded predictions”

      It really does come across like that, sometimes. I’ve been finding myself repeating the phrase, “I’m sure they mean well,” a lot, but sometimes people really seem to relish being the bearer of bad news, and, as you say, just waiting to say, “I told you so!”, which is so hard to get your head around! I also find it really interesting that the people who are quickest to offer up the scaremongering stories are often the same ones who’ll constantly badger people to have children, and want to know why they don’t have any yet – er, maybe because you make it sound so unremittingly awful?

      • SO true! The best/most awful unasked-for advice i had was when we were moving house and ordering a new bed from a shop. When we gave our address for delivery, the woman serving us immediately went ‘Oh, you’ll see some flooding! Oh, and when it floods – BECAUSE IT WILL – it’s AWful.’ That’s verbatim. I really wanted to just walk out and say ‘stuff the bed’ because she was so rude (and should have, but it was quite cheap…). Also, our village doesn’t flood, it’s the neighbouring one, but even so, she was selling us something and felt that was appropriate to say!

        I love hearing about your experiences (not because people are being mean and I’m cruel) but because you are the voice of reason here! A situation is what you make it, and if you stay realistic and being yourself with your (and Terry’s) values then it will always be the right one for you. Wishing you ALL the best and good things!

  5. It’s very true. I remember all this being said to me and I have to confess to doing it to others as well! I think everyone assumes that we all know the amazing parts of being a parent, so we feel obliged to prepare people for the worst parts as well.

  6. None of this has been true for me. It’s what you make it, don’t let those things put you down or scare or intimidate you. Those are the negative nancies that think that because it was that way for them that it’s the case for all women.

  7. My experience, 13 years ago, was the opposite: people were overly positive. As a result, I really struggled with the reality of the first year, in fact, I think I had undiagnosed PTSD, after a long and difficult labourzystów. I hated breastfeeding and I decided against having any more children, and have never regretted it, despite the same people asking about siblings. I don’t mean to strike a negative note yet again, you’ve obviously already had enough negativity. Some of my friends had completely different experiences, straightforward labours, breastfed for years etc, others had babie who never slept, while my son was a good sleeper…It is different for everyone. Good luck and all the best.

  8. I’ve got 3 and I still wear make up, my body has changed but I’m the dress size I was pre kids, my feet have changed but it doesn’t happen to everyone. There were times that sleep was scarce. There was a drawing on walls incident. I won’t say it’s all joyful bliss as life’s not like that kids or not. I will say that my kids are my favourite people in the whole world and have enhanced my life and inspired me to be better at everything and the odd being puked on type thing isn’t really worth moaning about after the event (during that stuff I found it cathartic to moan though)

  9. Oh Amber you had me laughing about sitting in the bathroom with a baby on your knee. I’ve had three children and no it never came to that! There were occasional days when I was still in my dressing gown longer than I’d have liked, but not that many. You find a way to do things. Of course there are chores and some broken nights initially as we all know but what I remember most is reading them stories, playing with them, lovely days out, hearing them sing, seeing them learn new things, seeing them laughing. I also had regular me time thanks to my husband, saw friends and did things that I enjoyed without the children, much as I loved being with them. You have so much to look forward to. I wish you every happiness. Don’t listen to gloommongers.

  10. No one can tell you what you or your life will become after having a child. It’s your life, your decisions and your child. Everyone’s life is different. What is valid for me as a parent – I do wear a lot more flats but I also started to put make up only after having my daughter and I was 1-2 sizes skinnier than pre-pregnancy before getting pregnant again – might not be valid for you. No matter what people are saying, they actually don’t know what will happen in YOUR life. They only know about their own. Maybe their houses are total filthy messes, maybe their children are drawing on the walls, maybe they can’t fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes… You’ll find your own and unique way into parenthood and its challenges, and this is the beauty of it. Because it will be something new, which you’ll have to explore and you’ll find constantly new things! One thing is for sure – to have kids makes life so much more interesting and different. I’m saying this as a good thing and hope that it will be such for you. Life does change with kids and it doesn’t have to be hard, uncontrollable or a struggle. Some changes are good.

  11. I think the best thing about becoming a parent is that it teaches you to roll with things. Your baby will be a unique individual, as you are. The things that work for other kids may not work for your kid. You will soon figure out what works and what doesn’t, if you focus on your kid and not what everyone else insists is right or the baby books say. Babyhood can have some rough days but it’s also when they are super cute and you are their whole world and hero. Trust me when I say they totally grow like weeds, so it’s good to enjoy the moment because when you look back, they are grown and you are scratching your head wondering how that happened, lol.

  12. I am so sorry you’ve gotten so much of this! I’m not married or a mother, but unfortunately this kind of stuff is not limited to parenthood “advice.” I first really ran into it when I’d been working a year or so. An older guy on my team came to tell me about a problem that had surfaced. I clearly remember him standing there with a huge grin, telling me how awful it was going to be and how much work I would be in for. (Multiple times.) I had a hard time ending the conversation, and got pretty angry after he left. Why did he think it was funny that I was in for a stressful and difficult couple of months? And he truly was a nice guy!

    This is a really mild example, but it’s the same spirit. Our culture is not one of encouragement; it’s one of snark. People laugh at jabs and snappy comebacks on TV shows but don’t think how they are actually received by real people. And yes, there’s an element of schadenfreude, along with a comfortable superiority in their experience. (Real or imagined!)

    All that to say that of course these people are totally off. Comments are just a way to put their oar in, with no attempt to actually be helpful. I’m an aunt and cousin multiple times over, and the oldest of four children. People are still the people they were before parenthood. They all just have different boundaries (“Mummy McMumface”?!), which become clearer than they were before. It’s not a personality change at all; it’s expressing the personality that was already there in a different way. One of my very dear friends just had a baby last year, at about your age and time married. My friend is clearly the same person. She has the same interests and hobbies and occupation, and enjoys the same things as before – and more. Motherhood added to her interests; it did not re-invent her personality! (And FWIW she’s back to pre-baby weight, so it DOES happen!)

  13. I think that because of your profession you will get far more of the rudeness people are capable of. You really do deal with a wide variety of people and all of us sometimes hit “enter” without considering how it will be received. There is a bit of internet troll in all of us but some don’t let the troll have control because we learned from bad experiences. Others, they do let the troll have control and it’s damaging. Those rude people have yet to learn.

    LIFE changes us no matter what our circumstances have been, so pregnancy and parenthood are just factors in how you will change. You have changed over the few years I have read your blogs, actually, and that’s a healthy thing. Because you both are home all day your life will look different in parenting than a family that has other schedules. That’s a healthy thing too because you can adapt to the variables as things continue to change. You and Terry will both change and grow but you will still be yourselves, only with more depth and experience.

    You have been through dark times already and are stronger for it. It is true that there are going to be difficult things in pregnancy, childbirth, the first year, etc. But you go through them one day at a time, just as you have with Terry’s surgeries, Rubin’s death, and the rest. You have made it through the dark times before so I think you will make it through in the future. Post-partum depression is real for every new mom in various degrees but you have support available so ask.

    My feet did change size but I had very high arches. I think they dropped a bit and made my foot longer. No big deal. I did struggle about being heavier now but I am still “me” no matter what size I am. Even in your worst-case scenarios, you will still be you and I will enjoy your blog.

  14. It’s been a while, but the good things I remember are:
    Baby toes (endless kisses)
    The scent of a baby (especially after bath time)
    Toothless grins
    Sloppy kisses
    Hearing “hellio!” coming from the nursery at o’dark hundred
    Faces made trying new foods
    Wonderment at the world (through the eyes of a child)
    Sleepy cuddles
    Peeing on a friend’s shoes
    Laughing at puppies
    Waddle in diapers
    And so many more…
    Happy Infanticipating!

  15. My best advice would be to look at your own mum, and she is fabulous and has as much personality as she did pre you. She is still stylish and creative and loves you beyond words. And this is the kind of mum you will be too. Terry will, I suspect, be like your dad, always there, always involved, always fixing things, loving you both.
    Yes, your life will change and nothing can prepare you for how you will feel when you hold your newborn and look into his eyes (I’m going with your notion that it is a boy). All I can say is that it will be YOU and YOUR unique reaction to that little bundle, and nothing in the world can ever change how you feel.
    Don’t worry about possibles, and even if you do experience some of these difficulties, you will cope. I remember Billy telling invited guests at his daughter’s wedding how he slept on the floor by her bed, holding her hand, for years. Because that’s what parents do, and what you would do too because you have so much love you (and Terry) will put your baby’s needs before your own. It’s what you do now with each other, and will be extended to your baby.
    Also, parents survive, they may be exhausted at times, but the joy children give is beyond compare. Imagine that little person who will let you see the whole world through their eyes as they learn and develop. It’s quite simply amazing.
    When I became a mother I was so ignorant and people didn’t talk or write about pregnancy/parenting/child rearing/concerns. We were in the dark trying to work things out for ourselves. Maybe we worried less because we knew nothing, or maybe that made us worry more. But we all survived and by the time our kids went to school they were potty trained/could speak/walk etc.
    You will survive and wear your beautiful clothes and shoes and make up and be fabulous (maybe just not as often lol). And if you wear track suits and UGG boots for a while, that’s fine too. Be the mum you want to be.

  16. I will NEVER understand why people always focus on the negatives. Yes, you’ll be tired but you and Terry will figure it out. And yes it’s a huge shock to the system but again you’ll figure it out. You’re making a little human inside you and you get to raise them and care for them and see them grow and become a real life person. It’s amazing. The best thing I have ever done without a doubt but yes it’s hard and tiring and all of that but fuck it, it’s a little person who you’ll feel the most incredible love for. Everyone’s pregnancy and birth is different, I say just wing it. You will be fine.

    And something else. I wouldn’t say my body has changed much and I breastfed for 2 and a half years ( and no, it’s not the most natural thing, it can be really damn hard but so very rewarding too). It’s only changed because I like to eat too much cake and that’s not really down to pregnancy. Enjoy it! It’s the wonderful thing <3 <3

  17. People do massively over-exaggerate, I think in a bid to be funny sometimes, or to justify some minor ‘sin’ to themselves (personally I never felt the need to forgive myself for letting her watch lots of TV – I bloody love TV, and she’s introduced me to the superb Teen Titans Go! which is very funny) or perhaps because they think it’s the done thing so they don’t look smug (weirdly, it comes off as smug in a whole different way anyway). Some things have changed for the better, some things I tolerated through gritted teeth and some things didn’t really bother me either way! It’s all very well for mums (and dads) to blow off steam with a bit of storytelling oneupmanship but I totally agree it can get really dispiriting when the tone becomes ‘aha! One of us! We have trapped you!’ when it should really be “welcome to our world. There will be ups and downs, lols and hair-pulling exasperation, but it’s worth it, honest.”

    FWIW R has never drawn on a wall. She also started sleeping in 5 hours bursts at 13 weeks and even if you breastfeed and can’t trade off the feeding (it just didn’t work out for me) there are techniques you can use to keep things calm and get some extra kip, such as dreamfeeds, feeding lying down etc. Of course you will be knackered at times, but from one lengthy sleeper to another I promise you will find ways around it – and Terry will be the most amazing support. It is true that I didn’t use the bathroom without an audience for years but I suspect it was because I simply didn’t care enough to train her through the wailing-at-separation stage (which, of course, not every baby will even have!) with distractions etc (I could have – I just picked a different battle! We gotta make our own way with these things). These days she’s long past old enough for me to go ‘hey, quiet time for mummy, off you go’ so even if you end up down that road it doesn’t last forever anyway! She went through a stage at 2 or 3 of toddling in and announcing “and I will stand here and watch you!”. I once sighed resignedly and muttered “if it makes you happy”. I forgot to mention this to Ash, so when she followed him in the next day and he exasperatedly ushered her out with “but why would you watch me?!” got the reply “because it makes me happy!”. I lol-ed a lot.

    Anyway. What that long-winded waffle was meant to do was reassure you that things change, but change doesn’t mean bad. If you needed that reassurance. 🙂

  18. My mother, of all people was the worst for the negative comments. It drove me crazy! Apparently, I was a tough baby — collicky, strong willed, never slept, difficult to manage. In fact, she ended up having a nervous breakdown, which I was blamed for. When I had my first child, my daughter, she suffered from collick as well, was very spirited and provided me with a challenge every single day. My mom would come to help out and her constant comments were so hurtful — “Hmmm, I wonder were she got THAT from…, hmmm, she reminds me of someone (side eye directed at me…) seriously, it was crazy! It was almost like she was gleefully saying, “You deserve everything you get…!” while being the hero of the day by “helping” me out by giving me a “break”, because she had nobody to help her out when I was such a terrible baby. Can you tell I am a little resentful?!? GAAAAAHHHH!!! Anyway, it turned out that my daughter was violently allergic to cows milk, which is why she was collicky, and yes, she is spirited, but she is also energetic and smart and delightful and even though I have moments where I want to pull out my hair, she has turned into a wonderful 17 year old who continues to challenge me every day… and she also stands up for what and who she believes in, and questions the status quo rather than sitting around on her hands…

    It also turned out that my Mom had a nervous breakdown, not because of me and the fact that I was difficult, but because she was married to a class-A jerk who treated her and her kids horribly.

    Anyway, those comments are always coming from something. Yes, there are difficult, trying days, and your life will change dramatically, but it is all so worth it. Those moments where you wonder what the heck you are doing or wondering why you are doing it, are all so fleeting compared to all those times where you are so incredibly proud of your little one — who will grow into a lovely person. It is worth it. I have never, ever, heard anyone say that they regretted having children (even my crazy mother). I just wish they came with a manual!

  19. I appreciate so much of what you say. Yes, parenting can be hard! But the things we sacrifice the most for, we appreciate the most, right? We have seven children and my husband and I agree that they are absolutely the best thing in our lives. I have more fun with our adult daughters then I do any of my girl friends. Our 15 year-old son tells me every day that he loves me even though he says himself he dislikes emotions. I could go on and on but I’m sure you have a clue how much you mean to your own parents, Amber.

    And to encourage you, I still have an ok figure even though I have so many children, and I still keep my house reasonably clean. This is not to brag, because I am really very ordinary but just to help you with your fears. Those fears are totally normal and I had them too.

  20. Seriously, I get so angry when I start to reading this post. Just… I… Since I start studying preschool pedagogy parenthood start to be my weak spot (without being a parent myself). Why people make it look so hard for being a parent?!
    Ok, maybe someone will tell me that it’s going to be a different when I got a baby, but… My mother have 3 grown up children and she’s never complaining about how hard parenthood was. In fact right now she takes care ot the third BABY since she became foster parent. And in the last 3 years I learned a lot what it’s feel like to take care of a baby.
    So for her experience…. She actually sleeps enough! It’s true that in the first 3-4 months babies wake up in the middle ot the night to be feeded, but that’s not something that going to be forever! And in the first months my mother uses tha time in which the baby sleeps (which is a lot in that period) to do her housework.

    Also when I look my mothers old photos… She actually is thinner than before. Just saying….

  21. I sit here holding my 3 month old baby girl, my rainbow baby after not planning to have kids, then changing my mind and having 3 miscarriages. There have been moments of overwhelm since she got here. I can’t wear most of my clothes (partly because finding dresses you can breastfeed in is hard!). Thank God I can still wear my shoes. I think many parents are parents because they felt an obligation to do so. When you have really considered the decision and seen how hard it can be to get to that baby, you appreciate it more. I love being a mom more than I ever thought I would. Probably more than I love my shoes!

  22. My children are grown up, and now have children of their own. My late husband told me that before our first was born all his friends told him negative things – nobody said anything about happiness. With my son (first baby) I remember it felt like an obstacle race to get myself dressed in the morning, but I don’t think I ever left the house without mascara (and a full set of clothes, of course). My lovely mother gave me money to buy myself two new dresses after he was born, and I have photos of myself wearing them. I’m pretty sure that the shoes in the pics were “pre-pregnancy”. Now that my kids are adults, I still worry about them sometimes, but that is because I love them so much. And my grandchildren bring me unbounded joy.

  23. I think (as a non-parent, so possibly talking crap) a lot of this stuff comes the very odd idea society has that only the mother is an actual parent. All this ‘you will have no time ever again’ stuff ignores the father utterly, who is apparently incapable of caring for his own child unsupervised for twenty minutes while you take a shower. Like how it’s often said that a man is ‘babysitting’ if he is solely in charge of his children for the evening. NO, he is parenting his OWN child.

  24. Every baby is different and every parent is different. Your baby will be unique and your parenting will be as well. Some things you can’t control, but a great many things you can. My kids (now ages 6, 4, and 2) still don’t always sleep well, but I have friends with kids that slept all night from 6 weeks old. I am always surprised by how much easier it is to deal with the lack of sleep than I thought it would be (and, like you, I love my sleep!). I will say that I’ve peed with a child on my lap (not really a big deal) and my feet went up half a size, but I lost all the pregnancy weight (and I gained plenty) and my children have never colored on the walls or smeared poop on them either for that matter. Just in case, however, I recommend only buying washable art supplies, because children aren’t very good at staying on the paper. 🙂

  25. I wonder if part of this is that a lot of women don’t have their s/o working at home. Terry works from home as well, right? Trying to raise a newborn on your own does sound hellish, but you’re a team! That’s my perspective, anyway, from the U.S. where many paternal leave policies are laughable…

  26. So, I just had a baby six months ago…. and my feet size didn’t change, I’m back to pre-pregnancy weight (though, my body shape is subtly different, I suppose), and I’m pretty sure I’ve the same interests 🙂 Life does change with a baby and you have to find a new normal as another person fits into a household routine, but….. that seems normal and doesn’t seem to require that children will necessarily paint on walls or whatever (and even if that is so…. this kid isn’t gonna be sitting up on their own for a while let alone have enough gross motor skills to do that any time soon.) I will say some of these things- like wanting to wear high heels, fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes and lack of sleep- were part of our first few months, but we had a pretty hard borth and a pretty colicky baby. Everyone’s different and it is silly to say you will never X, Y, or Z again. And I think you will have a good partner in your husband 🙂

    Its funny though. I feel like I experienced the opposite of you. There were a lot of what I call #soblessed comments about the wonders of motherhood and how Beautiful and Life Affirming and Perfect everything will be. Mind you, it *is* wonderful and beautiful etc. but it is also a big change and life is more complex than that. Sometimes it made me feel very inadequate not to be enjoying motherhood twenty-four seven. I read something though that I loved, -” Everything to its season- and this just might not be your season, mama, ” It reminded me both to love where we were at and savor those things I did love, and reminded me that our baby would outgrow some of these things. (Again, he was very, very colicky. Most people’s babies aren’t, so this isn’t meant to scare you or say your life would be like this. This was my own experience and now he has indeed outgrown it 😀 )

    • I’m loving hearing stories about people whose feet didn’t change – I’m now super-paranoid about this, and already mourning the loss of all of my shoes! (And not just heels, either – it sounds like I’d have to replace absolutelly all of them, which will be crazy expensive!)

      • I had the same fear as my mother always talked about her feet having changed in size – but no, it did not happen! Maybe there is a hint of a change, but only a feeling that some of my (left) shoes fit a little bit differently, but I can wear them all. Don’t worry, it can happen to you too!

      • What makes me crazy is that all the people commenting – positive or negative – talk as they were ABSOLUTELY SURE this or that will happen to you or you will feel/act the same way. The main thing to keep in mind is that there is no way to know that – even you don’t know yourself how you’re going to react to something so there is no point in being convinced that something will turn out to be awful just because it did for other people. Try to remain as open as possible with yourself – see how you feel and follow your needs, not the advice or scary stories of other persons. It will never be the same for two persons, I even suspect it is never the same for the same person with two different babies. But I love your point, I have not thought about it this way although I think this flood of negativity is partly the reason why I feel almost guilty and having to excuse myself constantly that my 22-months old daighter sleeps through the night and it was OK breastfeeding her. Why would I not think of that as normal? So once again, you are so right.

    • Honestly so refreshing to read other people feel like this. We need more encouragement. I’m already good enough at being a realist at how hard things will be. Don’t need help in that department.

  27. Amber you are funny, that was a good read. Someone seriously wants your white walls ruined? That’s just, well that’s weird isn’t it, to be so invested in someone’s paint colours….

    Anyway you might be lucky and get a good sleeper, I’ve got two, we got them in a routine early and it worked, they were even in their own rooms from 6 weeks (the house is small, we sleep with all the doors open anyway, they were you know, asleep). Doesn’t work for everyone but you’ll get there with trial and error. I don’t ever lie-in anymore to be fair but they sleep 12-14 hours without waking in the night so I don’t mind being up before 6am some mornings. Plus babies / kids fresh from sleep, still all warm are an absolute delight, all cuddly and so pleased to see you. I think morning snuggles might actually be my favourite time of the day.

    It’s a heck of an adjustment for sure but it doesn’t have to mean an end to life as you know it, as you well know from the fact that you weren’t a living room grafitti artist yourself 😉

    • To be honest, since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve been waking up super-early every morning anyway, so hopefully it’ll come as less of a shock than might otherwise have been the case!

  28. My feet did change size, but I lost the baby weight in seven months and I’m still losing it (my kid just turned 1). My weight loss is, I believe, down to a combination of exclusively breastfeeding PLUS having the lucky genes that result in breastfeeding weight loss–some people will tell you that breastfeeding ALWAYS makes the weight just melt off, but I know enough people to whom it didn’t happen that I know it either will or it won’t and you don’t know until you get there. My hips have changed somewhat, so clothes do fit a little differently, but I’m finding that the only reason I can’t wear pre-baby clothes is that I’m now thinner than I was immediately pre-baby.
    Sleep also seems to be a toss-up. My baby has always slept regularly but in short intervals–when he was tiny, he woke up to eat every hour during the day and every two hours at night, and just gradually started sleeping in longer stretches as he got older. He still doesn’t sleep through the night, but he’ll sleep for 6 or 7 hours pretty reliably. My sister’s baby doesn’t sleep easily or regularly, but when he does finally conk out, he’ll go down for 11 hours straight. No way to tell how your baby will sleep until they get here.
    I will admit that I have, more than once, gone to the bathroom with a child on my knee, but that’s only because I have an uncommonly clingy child and my husband works outside the home (I work part time, mostly from home). It’s not how it usually happens, though; I do bring him into the bathroom with me, but he’s usually ok sitting on the floor or poking in a drawer while I pee.
    When one partner works outside the home, and the other is usually at home with the kid, you naturally fall into certain patterns, but I think you and Terry have a much better shot at dividing up the childcare since you both work from home and are self-employed–more flexibility, etc. I think a lot of these people are either forgetting your unique life/work situation or haven’t paid that much attention to your personal posts.
    What someone said above about parenthood amplifying your personality is spot-on. My house is indeed a disaster area most of the time, but it was like that before–my husband and I are not tidy people and didn’t spend that much time cleaning before we had a kid, so of course we aren’t going to magically turn into neat freaks now. We got a little tidier recently when we got tired of having toys all over the living room floor all the time, but we figured it out and adapted. Maybe you’ll change a little bit, but I don’t see why you’d change so drastically that you became more like me, for example, and less like you.
    In in the end I think a lot of the “you’ll seeeee” boils down to people being unhappy with how they’ve structured their lives, and either not wanting to fix it or not seeing that they can–because I firmly believe that there aren’t any absolutes when it comes to what you can and can’t do when you’re a parent, but you do have to make choices and design your life the way you want it to be. There are a lot of things that I can’t do right now because I have a kid, but that’s because of how our life is structured at the moment–we made choices that were right for us, and the end result is that I CAN do X but CAN’T do Y, but if I wanted to switch it around, I could. I can’t go to the office every day, but I could if we put the kid in daycare; I can snuggle my baby before he takes a nap, but I couldn’t if he was in daycare. I haven’t been able to eat cheese for the past year, but I could if I stopped breastfeeding; I’ve been able to leave the house with just a diaper and wipes for the past year, but if I was formula-feeding, I would have to bring along bottles and formula and water. I can’t put my kid in the stroller and walk to the zoo, but I could if we moved to an apartment in the city; I can take him into the backyard to play without packing a diaper bag or putting on shoes, but I couldn’t if we moved to an apartment in the city.
    This is turning into a novel so I’ll stop but my main points, here they are: 1) some things you can’t know until you get there, and they might be bad but they might be good, and 2) you design your own life and choose what’s important to you.

  29. It seems to be inherent in human nature to offer advice on subjects that one has experienced to those that have yet or are only beginning to experience. I think for many it amounts to wanting to pass on their experiences and lessons learned and maybe focusing on the difficulties helps them to feel like they’ve accomplished something by making it through. I am not a mother by birth, but I am the mother to a beautiful 14 year old daughter that became mine when I married her father a little over two years ago. Becoming a parent worried me. In my heart, I knew I wanted to be a mom but taking on being a mom to a teenager felt like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. And I experienced a lot of well-meaning, but negative, comments from people. Many people told me that they wouldn’t take on a teenaged step-child. It always made me want to ask them, “So, do they not deserve the same amount of love and care as anyone else?” A friend of mine had married a man with a son 5 years earlier and she told me that it wouldn’t be what I expected, as if the whole experience would be something I would live to regret. To some degree, she was right about expectations. I did not expect to feel this amount of love, frustration, joy, and fear, all rolled into one. I did not expect to see life again like a child does. I did not expect for her to love me like she does, to take me full-on as her mother, and trust me to help her in all the many different ways that I can. Yes, my life has changed and so have my priorities, but I am still the same person, and yet I’ve grown, too. I love adding mother to the list of words that describe me, but it doesn’t take away from everything else. I’m still an engineer, a wife, a friend, a mentor, a child. I still love doing all the things I did before, but I recognize that I don’t have as much time for them as I did before, so I have to pick and choose. I’ve become much better about managing money now, because it isn’t just about me anymore. I am more aware of my own actions, because there is someone always watching and learning from me. I still love a clean and organized house, but I am learning that sometimes I just have to let it go in the moment to focus on something more important. There will be time to catch up. As I face the fact that my daughter will soon be 15, I realize that she won’t be home with us forever. Just a few more years of school and then college… and those moments of doing things together will be farther and farther apart as she builds her own life. Parenthood is absolutely worth it. It doesn’t always look like a magazine, but it is a wonderful experience and you have a lot of control on what your life looks like as you are going through it.

  30. Ugh, I hear you! It seems to be part of our “don’t let people feel too happy because that means they’re SMUG and it’s not British to be SMUG” culture. So.

    Clothes. Well, my boobs ARE enormous now but my bottom half went back to its pre-pregnancy size pretty quickly (with zero effort on my part, I might add) and my feet stayed the same. You can find ten minutes to get dressed every morning – I promise.

    Sleep. I can’t deny there are tough, tired bits BUT they all pass and they become less frequent with time. In the early days, you listen to the cliched advice and you sleep when the baby sleeps. People talk about sleeplessness a lot because it IS difficult but it’s not the biggest or the most important thing. You are going to be okay.

    Toilets. There are two grown ups in your house most of the time – you point the kid at Terry when you need some time to yourself. Or CBeebies. Both work.

    Cleaning. The kid has to learn about this some time, right? So you pop them in a bouncer or something and let them watch you. Or you do it while they’re napping. Or while they’re with your parents. Or see above: Terry/CBeebies. Kids’ crayons are washable so, if they do draw on the walls, you wipe it off; if they’re showing an interest in scribbling on things, you make sure they have access to paper; you say “Not for drawing on” and “Not for playing with” then brag to everyone about how young and how fast your kid has learnt basic rules.

    Identity. YOU ARE STILL YOU. 100%. The way you schedule your life will change; you may start choosing cafes according to their children’s menus; but your personality doesn’t change. You will still be Amber. Terry will still be Terry. You’ll just have this fab little person to hang out with as well.

  31. I’m never sure how to talk about parenthood positively without sounding smug. And I don’t want to say, “oh this part is great” to a pregnant woman because what if she ends up hating that part? It’s so different for everyone. I will say that I’m a much happier person now than I was before I became a mother. I think part of that is that I’m more focused on what works for our family and it’s helped me care less about what other people think.

    I do wish I’d known that even if you lose the weight right away it takes your uterus a while to contract. It takes different amounts of time for different people. So you could weigh your pre-preganancy weight and still not be able to button your old jeans. That doesn’t necessarily mean the change is permanent. It sounds silly but not being able to button my jeans was kind of traumatic.

    If you are painting a room for the baby use a washable/scrubbable paint on the wall next to where you plan on having the babies changing table. Their grimy little feet and fingers touch that wall all the time. It’s the one spot in my house I can’t get clean and it bugs me. We’ll just repaint the wall once the my youngest is done with it but it’s annoying in the meantime. But that’s the only housekeeping thing that’s really baby specific.

  32. My son drew on our white walls…. a very few times (with permanent marker!) and it looks good. I kept it and may put a little frame around it. Adds some interest. I believed all this too. I read a book about how “having a baby is like dropping a bomb in the middle of your marriage.” None of that. He slept fine after we did sleep training, breastfeeding whipped the weight off my like a miracle (I was always hungry, always eating, and still lost a ton of weight quickly…it was pretty awesome), and my husband and I of COURSE grew closer because we had to figure this all out together. Your life will be different in that you will ALWAYS BE SADDLED WITH A DIAPER BAG so get a cute one. And don’t forget it every time you leave the house … it’s easy to forget in the early days when you’re not used to it. Our first outing with our child was too a book store. I had a two week old baby and was walking around looking at college kids studying and older people sprawled in chairs luxuriously reading and though: that will never be me again, and nearly cried. But it was me, way sooner than I thought (cuz…yes, husband could care for baby while I nipped out to book store on my own). This is so so hokey, but the saying that resonates the most with me, that helped me appreciate the days that were harder is: the days are long but the years are short. The thing about time passing so quickly, so appreciate the little tykes, is the only advice that you really need to take, if you ask me.

  33. The thing that I was told that bothered me the most was that the relationship between you and your husband would never be the same. What! Really? No way! I was determined to not let that happen and we grew even closer because of having a child; and in the time after up until now, we still have a pretty amazing relationship. I love everything about being a mom and my life was actually changed for the better. And in my experience, everything goes back to normal. I didn’t listen to any of my friends who told me you can’t have nice stuff or go anywhere with children. Not the case at all for us, and my boy never drew on the wall. (He did put a few boogers on there though. Lol!)

  34. About the shoes – my feet went up in size (not swelled, just got longer because pregnancy makes the tendons stretch everywhere including feet) and in a year after pregnancy was over went back down to my previous size. And then even smaller. I’m 1/2 to 1 size smaller shoe size now. Keep the shoes if they get tight, you may still fit into them in a while. Not immediately after or 6 months after but it’s not like they’re turning into pumpkins if not worn in 6 months. Same with clothes. Lost weight but got curvier. And then lost the extra curves. Took a while because I didn’t push working out AT ALL. And the extra weight still went away eventually, mine stayed till I finished nursing though (then it just melted away in a couple of weeks, it was freaky). Also, even if you don’t sleep at night with a baby (why is Terry going to be missing, seriously?) you can still sleep during the day. Or sleep in. You work from home, you don’t have to be dressed, functional, and making small talk at the water cooler by 8 am about nappies and what not because that’s all coworkers know about babies. Once the baby finally goes into blissful deep sleep at 7 am (as they do, when you gotta start your day) – go to sleep too and get a nap in till 9 or 10. Why not? Put on jeans and a tee so you’re dressed when you wake up, that’s a parenting hack, btw ?.

  35. Just left you a comment on your latest pregnancy post but I couldn’t resist adding onto this. I am pretty new to parenthood myself, an absolute fresher to be honest since my baby is not even two months old, but I agree with you, people are extremely negative about parenthood. It is hard, I am not going to lie, but what I found the most challenging is dealing with the hormonal imbalance rather than with a newborn. Although we have a good sleeper (we did focus on getting her in a sleeping routine from day one though) it is true that the first month is messy and you don’t get to sleep as much, but it really is not as crazy as people make it sound! As for the cloths, I am less than two weeks postpartum and I am starting to fit into my old cloths again. I did put quite a bit of weight but I am loosing it as fast as I put it. Hormons! That is what they do… as much as I am hating them. Something people don’t tell you is that it doesn’t matter how tired you are, the moment you get a resemblance of a smile, even if at this point is just the baby passing gas (yes I said it) you will realise you are willing to chop your arm off if necessary!… It is simply beautiful and absolutely worth it!! Good luck with the pregnancy!!

  36. I’m a few years away still from parenthood– at least if life goes according to my carefully laid out plan. I had never experienced this negative talk about starting and raising a family until my most recent job. Where (inappropriately I might add) my coworkers started to tell me to “just wait…” after I got married. From the first day I worked there, they would come in with the latest horror story of what their kids had done or said– I would go home to my now-husband and declare “no, no, no, kids aren’t as wonderful as we’ve been led to believe!”
    But recently, I’ve found a few bloggers like yourself who are sharing their story of pregnancy and motherhood. Of course, they mention the difficulties, but they also showcase the happy times. The excitement and anticipation of a “bundle of joy” they talk about how this and that was truly unexpectedly icky, but that you get over it. I really appreciate these stories. They sooth my worries a bit and the panic at the idea of not sleeping or being allowed to pee alone.

  37. This is so so true! I don’t think I’ve gone a day yet without having some sort of a negative comment. It’s absolutely draining. I have a few friends who have baby’s and one of them who’s house is tidier than mine sometimes!

    It’s not that we want people to sugar coat everything at all just maybe say something nice in a while. I almost feel like I’m being punished for not having a messy house with toddlers making a mess etc.

    Love your blog!

    • Yup, I have a friend with a 3-year-old whose house is always immaculate, so it can be done! I definitely feel like there’s a feeling that you’re almost “letting the side down” somehow if you’re not really struggling, though, which is so strange: it’s amazing people have children at all, given how awful some people make it sound!

  38. My feet are slightly bigger than they were pre-pregnancy, but I can still wear my all beautiful shoes. I’ve found that some even fit me better. My house is not that much messier than it was before, but it is a bit. I get dressed every day, put make-up on most days, have never had to take the baby into the bathroom with me, and she does not need to be constantly held. However, I do find myself dry shampooing my hair for the fourth day in a row more often than I’d like. But that’s mostly because I’m not organized enough to get my butt in the shower when she goes down for her mid morning nap.

    I did find the ammout of people telling me to kiss goodbye to all future sleep before the baby arrived infuriating. And yes, my priorities have changed a bit but no more so than for any other big life changes.

  39. Thank you very much for this. I googled “why are people so negative about pregnancy” and yours was the first hit. I’m the husband, and little James is only 1 month old, but we both just love it and find it such an indescribable blessing. I’m completely googoo gaga and find even his cries super cute – most of the time. And yet the negative comments keep rolling in. Just today little James did a poo explosion up his back, and I thought it was very funny and showed another father at work a picture, and instead of laughing he said “that will never stop happening” with a serious tone. WTF???

    The negative comments came in thick and steady while my wife was pregnant, and I was annoyed by them but I just told myself “you just don’t know how hard it is”. I figured it might be some kind of graveyard humour to cope with a very difficult time or something. I know we’re not experienced yet, but with James at 1 month, it makes even less sense than it did before.

    What is wrong with our generation? Are they trying to go extinct? Maybe they are doing the wrong things with their kids?


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