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    42 Parents Revealed The Things They Wish They'd Known Before Having Kids, And It's A Very Honest, Heart-Wrenching Perspective

    "Avoid mommy blogs and social media. It's tempting to post about your baby every day, but practice texting photos to your close friends and family instead. Instagram-perfect families are curated, and those kids may not enjoy the exposure as an adult."

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the things they wish they'd known before having kids. Their responses were incredibly honest and rather eye-opening. Here's what they had to say:

    1. "Having a child isn’t an automatic magical moment of euphoria. I love being a mom, but I don’t love it as much as I thought I would. People make it seem like motherhood completes you and that there's no greater happiness than being a mom. Sure, it can be really amazing at times, but it's also exhausting, frustrating, and an emotional rollercoaster. I honestly thought having a baby would fulfill me, but my same anxiety and depression still pop up. Kids are great, but they are not the only answer to happiness. You need a balance of self-care and being mom to feel fulfilled, in my opinion."


    2. "It’s not just postpartum depression, it’s the baby blues, postpartum anxiety, and ‘mom rage.’ The moment you bring this little human home, your entire world flips upside down, and it’s OK to mourn that. You went from having the freedom to sleep in, work late, and make last-minute plans, to suddenly feeling like you need to pack up your entire house just to run to the store. Postpartum anxiety can be crippling. ‘What if I’m walking down the stairs and I drop my child?’ or ‘What if we get in a car accident on the way to the doctor?’ Talk to your doctor or someone you trust. The ‘mom rage’ can happen at any moment. You feel like all the responsibilities are falling on you solely as a parent and your partner isn’t contributing their share. This heavyweight of responsibility weighs on you and builds as you change each diaper or at each 2:00 a.m. feeding. Ask them for help, tell them what you need, explain how you feel, and don’t let it build up."

    "Please accept help when offered, or ask for help, even if it’s for an hour to take a shower or eat a meal with BOTH hands. Family and friends do want to help; that’s why they offer. Just because you became a parent doesn’t mean you’re excepted to handle everything. That's unattainable. Also, whatever current age your child is, that moment is the hardest. Don’t listen to others who tell you 'a six-month-old is easy' and 'just wait until they're two years old.' It’s all hard."


    mom putting her crying baby down

    3. "Just because 'it takes a village' does not mean you will have one yourself. So many of my friends have support and help with their kids — helpful grandparents, aunts, uncles, a team of friends to pitch in when needed. It all seems beautiful, useful, and great. I have none of this. I’m a 24/7 parent, and it gets very exhausting. There is no help, no breaks, and no village. Sometimes I’d like a few hours alone just to get my hair done."


    4. "Fed is best! When I did the antenatal classes, not one person mentioned alternatives to breastfeeding or what you can do if you can’t breastfeed. I just didn’t produce enough milk for my little man (he was a big bub), and had no idea about topping up with formula. He didn’t sleep for 10 hours straight on the first night after the birth because he was just so hungry. My midwife was so angry with the nurses for not getting me some top-up formula. She marched over to the feeding station, came back with a bottle, and explained how much to give and when, and he slept a solid for 12 hours! Thank god for her and thank god for formula. The whole ‘breast is best’ thing needs to stop. Fed is best."


    baby being fed with a bottle

    5. "That your whole personality and identity can have a complete crisis that never really goes 'back to normal' (although eventually, I became a much better and stronger version of myself). That having a baby together absolutely breaks down and changes everything about your relationship with your spouse/partner before kids. For some people, they seem to get closer and stronger, but for mine (and a lot of my friends) it was the beginning of the end of our marriage. Looking back on it all, it was for the best, and I don't regret any of it for a second."


    6. "It's astounding how much you can love another person. The love for your child is like nothing else you can experience. I always heard about the rush of emotions that can come over you when your child is born. I didn't exactly feel that the moment my son was born. Maybe because of the stress, or nerves, or whatever. Once he came out, I thought, 'OK, cool. He is here.' Then hours later, he was crying and I put my hand on his chest, and he stopped crying, and the moment hit me like a ton of bricks. It was overwhelming."


    man holding a baby

    7. "That you really need to take care of your pelvic floor after birth. I had two kids 10 years ago, and not one doctor or nurse mentioned that there is such a thing called pelvic floor physio therapy."


    8. "Milestones are not license to compare kids. Just because your 3-year-old can read or has an advanced vocabulary doesn't mean my child is any less than. I like to joke that no future employer is going to ask 'At what age were you fully potty trained?' If the professionals aren't concerned (doctor about vocabulary, dentist about pacifier use, teacher about behavior), be happy for those other children/babies, and enjoy your kid. They all level-off eventually. Comparison is the thief of joy."


    kids in a classroom

    9. "Parenting worries do not get easier once they get older! Fears over electric cords, head bumps, and sleeping through the night are nothing compared the fears you will have once they become teens or adults. Most think once kids make it past toddler years, it will get easier. It doesn't!"


    10. "That your friendships change when you all start having kids. Different parenting styles can really make hanging out awkward, especially as the kids get older. If you have friends who don’t supervise their toddler or don’t discipline their older kids, it can become really hard to keep those friends in your life. Especially when your kid doesn’t want to play with their kids because they're undisciplined and rude. You can’t exactly say, 'Sorry, I'd love to hang out, but your children are wild animals who we worry are going to die because you don’t watch them or pay attention to what they’re doing.' It has really put up some boundaries with close friendships."


    kid pointing a toy gun at an adult

    11. "That they will be constantly changing. Inherently you know this, but it hits different when you’re exhausted and trying to get them to eat or sleep and what used to work just doesn't anymore. Or, when you wonder why your toddler suddenly hates napping, or why that expensive toy they once loved is now ignored, etc. Kids, but babies/toddlers especially, are constantly developing at a shockingly fast rate, and this means their behaviors and preferences will change seemingly overnight. You have to learn to roll with it."


    12. "Never say never when it comes to your birth plan/parenting. Birthing is complicated and things happen. You’ll have to be flexible and accept that the most important thing is that you and baby are okay. Parenting is NOT what you think, even if you’re a teacher or daycare worker. You don’t know until you know. We co-slept (safely) while I was breastfeeding, despite me deciding we weren’t going to, and we got a lot more sleep."


    group of adults drying to get out of a boat

    13. "One thing you find out after having kids is that genes are STRONG and they don't just reflect in appearances. Mental illnesses that weren't obvious before or annoying habits from your or your partner's family will pop up. Also, your partner's shortcomings/weaknesses will be magnified by having kids. Lack of sleep, long illnesses, stress of dealing with teachers, doctors, and dentists all without support from your co-creator will make you despise that person. And, regarding in-laws, be 100% sure you can tolerate a lifetime of them, because once you have kids, they are forever your family. I have a MIL who didn't like me before we married. Now, I'm supposed to trust this person at times to be responsible for my flesh and blood. In hindsight, I wish I had run far, far away."


    14. "I really wish that I had been around a baby before I had my first one. I didn't have a clue about what to do other than the brief information I was given at the hospital. It's hard, stressful, fulfilling, and suffocating all rolled into one little bundle."


    mom and dad holding their new baby in the hospital

    15. "I really thought I was self-reflective and honest about my emotional state and had dealt with my dysfunctional childhood. Turns out my triggers were buried very deep, and the overall demand of parenting dug them up. I’ve really had to address my own triggers and issues from my childhood in relation to my parenting. It has been a doozy."


    16. "Your child will say 'Watch this!' 57 times an hour, and it will be the most pointless shit you have ever seen in your life. 'Watch this!' they say as they jump an inch and a half in the air. 'Watch this!' they say as they poke your dog on the butt. This goes on for years. You've been warned."


    kid throwing paper everywhere while parent tries to work

    17. "I have not given birth, but am a stepmother to three kids. I love them, but I never could have imagined the sheer space and importance they have in my life and my husband's life. I work full-time, and all the money goes towards funding the family. I don't have time to do much for myself, and my sex life has become non-existent. I'm looking forward to them being out of the house, and I definitely do not want any kids of my own. That being said, I will never stop making sure the kids have everything they need to succeed in life. It's mind-boggling."


    18. "There are no medals for drug-free labor and delivery. Parents who get an epidural, give birth via Caesarean, or who didn't carry their child don't lose parenting points for how their child arrives into the world."


    a pegnant character sitting in the hospital holding a friends had

    19. "I'll be brutally honest. I love my children more than anything in the world, but I didn't know how much of myself I would lose by becoming a mother. I do literally nothing for myself anymore, and my mental health has never been in a poorer state. I was a whole person before I became a mom, and now I feel like that person is completely gone. There's only 'mom' now. It's so rare that I get to reconnect with myself and remember what makes me ME. I didn't know that I would disappear as a person by becoming a mother, but after reading so many posts online, I know that I'm absolutely not alone in feeling this way. Being a parent is so hard, and I really didn't know about this part before becoming a mom."


    20. "I wish I’d realized/been more vocal about who I wanted and didn’t want visiting in the hospital after I had my daughter. I’d had an unplanned C-section, and I had an infected tooth that the hospital couldn’t do anything about. My mouth hurt way more than my incision, I was in pain, I felt like I was on fire, and the pain pills were not nearly enough. There were honestly maybe five people I would have truly wanted in there, and my daughter’s dad’s former in-laws would not have been among them."


    a room full of people as someone gives birth

    21. "That your child may have behavioral issues that cannot be diagnosed fully until school age. My daughter has been kicked out of four schools in eight months due to behavioral (hitting, kicking, etc.) and safety (excessive climbing, no fear) issues. She's been tested, evaluated, etc. Nothing. They just say she's 'incredibly smart, hyper-aware of her surroundings, and has separation anxiety.' She's four and now able to say things like: 'I don't know why I can't listen. It's hard' or 'I'm trying to keep my hands to myself, but I can't seem to do it when I get so mad!' I'm working with daycare in finding ways to help her control those emotions, but man, has it been tough. Many nights I've stayed up crying. Now I cry because I realize the struggle she must have been going through."


    22. "That breastfeeding is a FULL-TIME JOB. For those parents who choose to or have the physical ability to provide breastmilk to their baby, you need to be breastfeeding or pumping relatively every two hours. I exclusively pumped for my baby for a full year, and only because I had a high supply, I was able to reduce my pumps down to six times during waking hours and get a full night’s sleep. Most mothers who exclusively pump will need to pump eight to 12 times per day in order to maintain supply or produce a day’s worth of milk. I support all ways we choose to feed our babies, but since we’re focusing on breastfeeding here, here are some tears and cheers to milk mamas. You are SUPER HUMAN and accomplish the impossible every day!"


    milk pumping materials next to a baby

    23. "Those first three months after the baby is born are HARD. Take all the help you can get. Plan meals. Ask someone to come over to watch the kid for two hours so you can shower, nap, and eat. If you are parenting with a partner, your relationship is about to change under challenging circumstances. Be easy with each other. You’re going to miss talking about things other than when kiddo ate/had their diaper changed/slept. It’s all temporary! It will get better."


    24. "Take a step back and enjoy each age, as it goes by too quickly. I wanted the newborn phase to fly by because I was so sleep-deprived, but now I miss the endless cuddles and binge-watching TV shows."



    25. "The phrase 'the days are long, but the years are short' is the truest thing about parenthood."


    26. "I wish I had known that I would never fall asleep at night in peace again. Every night, a parent goes to bed rehashing the day in their head. Was I too strict? Was I too lenient? How do I handle the bully? Please god, keep my child healthy. I wish I had known."


    woman with a worried look on her face

    27. "A child does not fix underlining issues in relationships. They only bring them out more."


    28. "How expensive everything is. People say it’s expensive, but they don’t tell you that you’ll most likely hit your insurance deductible for the year at that first appointment. They also don’t tell you about car seats. Infant car seats range from $200 to $700+ (depending on if it can fit in your $1,000 stroller or not), and the kid will only fit in the first one for about a year before you need to shop for another kind/model. Car seats even expire now and you’re not supposed to use any secondhand. You’re also supposed to replace the car seat with a brand new one if you’re in something as minor as a fender bender."


    empty car seat

    29. "I really wished I had thought about the fact that they eventually grow up. My children are about to graduate high school, and I'm terrified of their realities without me micro-managing every aspect of their lives. I'm not strict or nosy, but I want to be included in all their decisions, which I know is not feasible or normal. I wish I really considered the fact that one day I would have to let go."


    30. "That no amount of talking beforehand will show you how each of you will actually parent, and that you'll probably not agree on even 50% of each other's parenting choices. You either learn to parent together or you don’t; there’s no in-between. It’s a thankless job, and you just have to hope you get it right and they grow up to become decent people."


    two characters on the couch looking at each other

    31. "I wish we had known that a non-birthing parent can also get postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety. As the parent who gave birth, I was screened at every pediatrician appointment. My partner wasn't. We both eventually sought treatment for postpartum mood disorders. He could've had help sooner if we'd known what to look for."


    32. "That your feet will grow a size or two and never go back."


    pregnant woman getting her feet rubbed by her partner

    33. "At least 50% of a kid's personality is just innate. I read all the books because my oldest wouldn't sleep, eat, stop screaming, behave, etc. Then, I had my second kid who immediately slept, ate, and was literally always happy. Each kid is different, and you don't need to beat yourself up about it. Especially if your first is the hardest."


    34. "There is nothing quite like holding a baby. The weight, the warmth, the smell. It's nature's way of getting us to have more. It's okay to let close family and friends take a turn holding the baby so you can have relief. You'll still have enough time holding them to cherish that memory later, so share the wealth. Hopefully, you'll be able to hold another baby for a close friend when they need a free moment. Also, more parents co-sleep than you would think. It's the best way for everyone to get a full night's rest. We know that it adds to the risk for SIDS and suffocation, but when you are sleep-deprived and can do it safely, it's hard not to. I would appreciate more experts saying that if you have to co-sleep, even though it is not our recommendation, here's how."


    character holding newly born triplets

    35. "Avoid mommy blogs and social media. It's tempting to post about your baby every day, but practice texting photos to your close friends and family instead. Instagram-perfect families are curated, and those kids may not enjoy the exposure as an adult. Be wary of any parent who has time to do photoshoots or engage in forums."


    36. "Everyone says becoming a parent is exhausting, but I wish I would've know that the exhaustion you feel from being a parent has less to do with the lack of sleep. Being tired from lack of sleep sucks, but what made it so much worse for me was never having a moment of downtime from parenting. Even if my baby was sleeping, I’d have a hard time relaxing because I would be worried about if they were eating good or developing okay or if there was something I wasn’t doing that they needed. You now have this helpless, little life that depends on you to survive. Your life changes in a way that’s hard to prepare for because even if you’re away from your children, you’re still a parent, and that constant worry doesn't really go away. That’s what is truly exhausting."


    characters holding newborn baby

    37. "Most things are a phase. When you're having a hard time, remind yourself that it's most likely temporary. You can get through this!"


    38. "How nonexistent my own time would be. Even when they play on their own, you are watching. Sleeping? You are watching. Feel like going to a party? You need to organize their care, and then you think of them while you're out. Organizing your vacation? You must adapt to them. I love to be their parent, but boy do I not like being a parent."


    parent standing over a crying baby

    39. "You will never, ever stop worrying. Also, at some point, when you’re just shattered to pieces by how much you love this tiny, squishy little potato, it’s going to hit you that your parents have those exact feelings toward you. It was a super overwhelming realization for me and I just cried and cried, and then called my mom to tell her how much I loved her."


    40. "It was the loneliest time of my life. None of my friends had babies yet, and navigating mom groups felt like the worst parts of Jr. high socializing. If you can, examine your support system before you get pregnant. I thought I would have help from my parents and in-laws, but I had absolutely none. My childless friends had no idea how to support me and I had no idea how to ask. I really needed someone who could occasionally say, 'Hey, I get it. Let me hold the baby while you nap,' or 'Let me bring you some take-out.'"


    four kids of various ages sitting on the bed

    41. "I wish I would have known that parenting doesn’t end when the kid turns 18. My child is 22, and parenting is much more difficult now. I can’t send him to his room when he ignores my advice on regular dental checkups and vehicle maintenance. I want so desperately to prevent him from making various life-ruining mistakes, and I am powerless to stop him. I spend my life in a constant state of frustration, worry, and helplessness. If you are reading this as an adult, call your mom. She worries about you."


    42. Finally: "That everything goes so fast. One minute they are taking their first steps, and the next minute you’re dropping them off for college. Slow down and enjoy the mundane, irritating things that you can’t wait to be over, because they will be and you’ll never get them back."


    Is there anything you wish you would've known before becoming a parent? Tell us in the comments below.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.