Here are the little new mom secrets that you won't find in the baby books.
Everything in this slideshow
You'll Become a Song and Dance Woman
Life becomes like Fame when you've got a babe -- you break into song giving him a bath and feeding him pureed peas because you can't get enough of those smiles that come as your reward. You've also rewritten the lyrics to countless songs to include your baby's name. And your chicken dance? It kills every time.
So Long, Clean Living Room
They're taking over... it's the attack of the oversized, brightly colored toys! Your former everything-in-its-place living room will probably never look the same, as you realize how handy it is to have a swing/bouncy seat/exersaucer close by. And you know what? It's a trade-off you won't mind.
You'll Covet a Sensible Car
Your idea of a hot ride has definitely changed. While the idea of buying a minivan or wagon used to feel like something your parents would do, now that you see how much baby stuff you need to schlep with you on trips, you're dying for one (or already have it).
Breastfeeding is Tough -- Really Tough
Friends will warn you, but you can't understand how difficult nursing can be for some new mommies until you've been through it yourself. Bleeding, infections, poor latch, cluster feedings -- are you sure women have been doing this for hundreds of years? Don't be afraid to ask for help.
You'll Sympathize With Other Parents
That dirty look you shot the parents with the screaming baby on the plane a few years ago? You had no idea, and you would go back in time and take it back a thousand times if you could. Now, post-baby, you exchange understanding looks and what-can-you-do shrugs with other women in the mama sisterhood.
You'll Check Vanity at the Door
If it will keep your baby happy and comfortable, you'll do it, no matter how foolish you look. That includes making monkey sounds, speaking in baby talk, and tickling your kid's butt.
Your Abs Will Never Recover
Do not look at post-Violet pictures of Jennifer Garner in a bikini. You're fragile enough as it is, postpartum. Go ahead and do Pilates, do crunches until the cows come home, but your prebaby abs have left the station. The more important thing is: you won't care. Much.
Your Mother-in-Law Relationship Will Change
Adding a baby to the mix has some quirky effects. If you and your mother-in-law have never seen eye-to-eye, you may be surprised to discover that a baby provides new common ground. You both find him adorable! She may shock you with her nonjudgmental advice and appreciation of your mothering. And even if she's not your biggest fan, she may hold her tongue (when she never has before) because she knows you have the power to grant her access to her grandchild. On the flip side, if you and your mother-in-law have always been superclose, a baby could create unexpected tension. She may barrage you with unsolicited advice. If you're experiencing baby-related conflicts with your husband, she may side with him. Retain your manners, trust your instincts, and your relationship with her will survive.
You'll Have a New Idea of "Vacation"
A salon pedicure will become the emotional and spiritual equivalent of a trip to the Bahamas.
You Will Learn a New Formula
Take the number of hours you stared, enchanted, into the face of your high school boyfriend. Multiply that by 100 for the amount of time you will stare at the face of your sleeping child.
Your Baby Will Shock You
As a good friend confided, "I was shocked that such a tiny baby could fart so loudly!"
You'll Gain -- and Lose -- Friends
You will make friends with people you never thought you would be friends with. Momdom creates strange alliances. You connect with a random woman in the playground about your shared nursing difficulties or about the anguish of letting your child cry it out at night. Suddenly, you're allies for life. Sadly, there's a corollary: be prepared for friendships to fall by the wayside after you have kids. You may no longer have the energy to make longstanding, if troubled, relationships work.
You'll Love Hubby as "Daddy"
You will be massively irked by your husband several times a day. Then you'll watch him in Daddy mode -- announcing, "You take a nap, Honey, I've got things covered"; singing the Ramones' "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" as a lullaby; giving your toddler horsie rides until she screams with laughter -- and forget every irritated thought you ever had.
You'll Feel Like a Celeb Stalked by Reporters
If someone rudely questions your parenting judgment (breastfeeding? not? going back to work? not? sleep training? not?) only once a week, you're ahead of the curve.
Your Sex Life Won't Exist
You will realize with terrifying clarity that your baby will do everything he can to remain an only child by making sure you never have sex again.
You'll Overhaul Your Netflix Queue
Kidnapped babies? Small children in jeopardy? Widowed young moms? Forget about it. Sweetie, let's just rent Knocked Up again.
You'll Win... One Way or Another
Girls clothes get more space in the store, and it's universally acknowledged that baby and toddler girls are more fun to dress. This is deeply unfair to mothers of boys. But they'll get their revenge in three years, when moms of girls have to deal with hoochie-mama clothing for preschoolers.
You'll Never Find Motherhood Boring
Self-congratulatory about your awesome parenting? Hang on, that'll change. Self-lacerating about being the worst mom on earth? Hang on, that'll change.
Here's why: At six weeks, your kid may sleep through the night, seldom cry, and eat like a champ. You tell yourself it's because of your level-headed, consistent parenting. Guess what? By the time he turns 5, your champion eater will become a French-frytarian and your champion sleeper will pop out of bed a million times a night. The baby who didn't walk until he was 15 months old and refused to share, well, that kid turns into a star athlete, whom teachers praise for his flexibility and independence.
The upshot? Parenting is like New England weather; if you wait a few minutes, it'll change. The best advice of all: try to stay in the moment and enjoy both the sunshine and the squalls ahead.
Originally published in the November 2007 issue of American Baby magazine. Updated December 2008.