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Having a baby brings so much joy and love into your life, but your whole world gets turned upside down after giving birth and it really isn't something you can teach someone about or tell them about . Life after pregnancy is something you have to experience for yourself to understand. Here are 8 things that I had no idea I would go through after having a baby.

1. My sense of identity would be challenged

It's a hard concept to comprehend until you go through it. There is a loss of the sense of the person you were before you had your baby, that for me, was hard to manage emotionally. For a while I just couldn't quite articulate my feelings well enough and didn't understand what I was going through, its easy to be utterly confused and not know which way is up for months after giving birth. After all you're moving through life with an infant sleep deprived and having major hormonal fluctuations or also dealing with post partum anxiety and/or depression. As I write this today my youngest is about to be 4 years old and I am just now feeling like my old self again in small ways.

2. I would view my relationship differently

You know what? I find our society odd in respect to overall family building rituals... bare with me here, but Girl meets Boy, they fall in love, marry, have a baby and what happens after baby arrives?? You have absolutely no idea who you married! It's the truth! Having a baby changes both of you. You really don't know who you've committed your life to and are building a family with until after you're already well into family building. My husband is great, comes from a strong supportive family and I thank goodness for that all of the time. However, I never would have known what type of dad he would be before we actually had kids.

Having children is a sure fire way to find out how your partner acts and behaves under immense pressure and stress. I am grateful I married the man I did, because if it would have been one of the few guys before him I'd most likely be writing to you here about divorce.

3. I developed anxiety and a heightened awareness of danger

I used to stay up at night watching my baby sleep... sounds sweet doesn't it. Well I did it because I had incredible anxiety and uncontrollable fear of the worst case scenario. I could not sleep a wink knowing that the infant next to me in his bassinet was at risk for SIDS (which is rare) or that I might miss hearing every single breath he took. So I literally sat in my bed and watched him sleep, when I should have also been sleeping. I know it sounds crazy buts its all too common. I have no idea if its a natural human survival instinct we develop after giving birth, or my post-partum hormones were whipping me up some special cocktail of severe anxiety and mood swings but I do know that becoming hyper aware of everything that could possibly be a danger to your baby consumes you. The good news is that it passes.

4. I would see life in a different way

As I mentioned before, having a baby just changes everything. The world as you know it changes and you start seeing life completely differently. Maybe its because the neurons in your brain expand or because your body is now accommodating new fetal blood pumping through your veins, or that you just somehow acquire this intense motherly instinct, whatever the reason you just start seeing life through a different lens. Interests you once had change, priorities become more about family and security and the big picture of life is more in focus.

5. My views of my parents would change

There is nothing like the immense feelings of love and fulfillment of your child to completely change your view of your parents. Both in good and bad ways. On one hand now I understand my mom so much better even though we are very different personality wise. On the other, I don't understand what motivated my fathers behavior in the way he raised us, because I personally would never treat my children the way I was treated as a child. Now that I have kids of my own I both understand my parents more and their fears and feelings and question their choices so much. I can now chalk up what I don't understand about their parenting styles to unawareness and dealing with issues maybe I never understood. Or possibly just a pattern passed down from my grandparents. Whatever the reasons having a baby makes you see parenthood in a completely different light.

6. Life would feel so fulfilling

Having a baby and watching them change and grow every single day is so rewarding and fulfilling. With all of the hard times, hormones and lack of sleep- the first time they hug you intentionally and say 'I love you' I sear your heart will do summersaults and you begin to live for those special moments. And just to let you know, with each child your heart multiplies! Just when it seems as though you can't possibly fit any more love inside you, you get flooded with it. Motherhood is so rewarding on so many levels.

7. My friendships would change

The state of my friendships changing was a shocker to me, the people I thought would be there to hold my hand and help me when I needed it, weren't the people who were actually there to support me. Some people in my life that I thought were great friends, turned out to be friends that served the moment and others I had misjudged were actually the most reliable. The reality is that your life is in chaos for months after having a baby and friends may not completely understand what you're going through, so its natural when your needs change, and everyone around you goes on with their lives. Your life where you left off before baby feels like it's at a standstill.

Each phase of life brings in new relationships and making new connections as a new mom is important to have moms that understand what you're going through.

8. My memory...would... um.... what was I saying?!

Oh boy! The Mommy Brain phenomenon - this is frequent forgetfulness and brain fog that plagues you after having a baby. I've heard this through the grapevine but don't know if I really believed it all that much. It wasn't until I was constantly forgetting my keys and literally losing my train of thought mid sentence that I noticed mommy brain was upon me - I couldn't believe my brain was failing me! It's totally normal though and some experts think it's because your brain changes after pregnancy which could be in preparation to help care for and intrinsically understand and bond with your newborn.

Having a baby and growing a family is truly a life changing experience filled with lots of ups and downs. There are so many surprises at every corner that will forever change your life. It's all worth every minute. Is there anything that surprised you after having a baby - let us know in the comments.

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