3 Things Every Parent Should Know About the Baby Stage

For 6 years I had a toddler or infant in the house. Now, nearing my 7th year as a parent — with a newly minted 3-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a nearly-7-year-old — I can reflect with greater clarity on that precious, wholly exhausting, messy, beautiful time. In doing so I’ve discovered 3 important things every parent should know about the baby stage.

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1. EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY. If you haven’t yet learned that every single stage, phase, good time, rough patch, annoying habit, and terrifying challenge is temporary, you’re most certainly new to the parenting game. As soon as you gloat about your child’s brilliance at creating 3-word sentences well ahead of developmental norms, they’re licking the storefront window. As soon as you feel like your child will never poop in the potty, the digestive dilemma is no more. As soon as you wonder when you’ll ever get your body back, your child weans. As soon as you really begin enjoying the morning cuddle routine, it’s over and replaced with another habit. As soon as you begin to think you will never again not be a heap of saggy, leaking, oddly pillow-like human randomly crying into your 3-day-old breastmilk stained pajamas in a mixture of fear, deep sadness, exhaustion, and raging postpartum hormones, you exit the hole. As soon as you think, “Will these needy, week-long days ever end?” They’re over. All of it comes to an end; positive and challenging. And you may loathe reading this if you’re presently in the parenting trenches with no light peeking above your laundry piles of spit-up and diaper-blowout stained onesies, but it’s true: it goes fast — faster than you can ever imagine — these are the good, hard (incredibly hard), long, worthwhile days.

2. IT GETS WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER. Think of most any developmental leap, milestone, or change and you can pretty much guarantee that things took a nose dive before the ride got smoother. Potty-training: a regression is bound to happen before you’re in dry pants territory. Sleeping: you’re going to hit (multiple) regressions and blips before you get some semblance of solid sleep. Walking: they go from speedy independent all-fours (or some variant) mobility to a rickety, slow gait before a sturdy walk is established. The first high fever bug: that thermometer reading has to keep going up and up (along with your blood pressure) until it eventually inches down. And afterwards, all of that stress and worry and strain remains as nothing but a memory. So know that if you’re at a parenting point when you end each day exhausted in all ways, doubting yourself and your abilities, feeling frustrated and stressed beyond what you ever knew possible, and wondering:”Will this ever end?” Know it will. And trust that this is just the precursor to improvement.

3. IT’S SURVIVABLE AND SAVORABLE You will have days when you lower your personal performance bar to such a degree that you refuse to be witnessed by any outsiders… your goal is survival. That’s ok. Those days (or a week) are normal. Nope, you’re not a failure. Nope, you’re not doing anything or everything wrong. Yep, it happens to everyone — EVERYONE — just people don’t admit it. But amidst it all, you can find a way to savor it. Savor your child’s smile in between tantrums or the sweetness of your child’s finally sleeping face or your own strength for being there despite everything going sideways. You may read this in the thick of things and think I’m full of it, but just try it: savor it. I’m not saying relish the crappy moments. No, those can stay sucky. I’m saying ignore the big picture of awful and appreciate the snapshots of good. In those tiny hidden moments you’ll find something to savor. There’s always something, no matter how small. Just look for it. Squint if you need to.

In no time at all you’ll be looking back on where you’ve been and think, “Wow, that was a shitshow, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!” This is your life, your child’s life; don’t wish it away for what it isn’t. Don’t ignore all the pitfalls and spin it into what it never was. Dig in and appreciate it for what it is.

Survive it. Savor it. One day at a time.

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Real Talk: Postpartum Hair Loss

You get pregnant. You’re round and glowing, you urinate every 20 minutes, and produce more gas than Exxonmobil. But, if you’re so fortunate, your suffering is eased by a glamorous perk: pregnancy hair. What you don’t realize is it’s only on loan.

Your hair has never been so full, lush, and manageable. It is your crowning gestational glory. Until postpartum hair loss hits. Some time around 3 or 4 months postpartum your body realizes that baby it’s been brewing has made a departure. And now it is time for all of that phenomenal hair to do the same.

While you were pregnant, your body held onto hair instead of shedding regularly. Now your hormones have reset so shedding has begun again. The problem is that you’re now shedding 10 months of mane all at once. That means a thinning hairline, bald patches, mangy ends, overall thinness. Not pretty.

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Me 4 months postpartum after my 3rd child. I lost a lot of hair, as I always do postpartum. I have never shared this vulnerable image but do so in the hopes that others feel solace knowing they are not alone.

Mother nature may be kicking your leaky, stretched, hormonal, dark-circled self in the ovaries but that’s the price you pay for 10 months of pregnancy hair and a baby. There are ways to manage the hair loss though. After having three kids and three rounds of confidence-obliterating postpartum hair loss, these are my tips for regaining a sense of follicular normalcy.

1) Remember this is natural, unavoidable, and – most importantly — temporary! You will hit a point when you think you will go bald. You will have clumps of hair clog your drain after just one shower. You will cry. You will survive this. This WILL stop. Know this. You will NOT go bald.

2) Don’t believe the hype! People will claim this potion, that vitamin, or this treatment will magically halt the hair loss. FALSE! Nothing is stopping this hormonal train. The best you can do is manage the aftermath. Don’t buy the snake oil.

3) Regrowth is your hope! Biotin supplements and prenatal vitamins are your key to speeding up regrowth. Some shampoos offer the same claim too.. the jury’s out on that. If it makes you feel better, buy them, try them, and go for it. It won’t stop or reverse hair loss, but the vitamins at least will help new hair replace the shed hair sooner.

4) Camouflage is your friend! Hit up a beauty supply store and buy a hair piece (faux bun, hair-covered hair tie, or faux ponytail like these) or dry shampoo/texturing product, whatever works to hide your thinning ends and allows you to wear your hair up with confidence. (Bonus: Wearing your hair up very temporarily keeps the hairs from shedding, but know that as soon as you release your hair so will your scalp. Also, updos can get uncomfy given the hair loss can place unwanted stress on still-rooted hairs as others depart throughout the day. So proceed with reasonable caution.) Grab some root concealing spray or powder (this is my favorite) to hide any thinning edges and bare patches. There are ways to hide the hair diaspora.

5) Cut and color boost more than your confidence! A shorter cut makes hair appear thicker. Hair dye makes hair appear fuller. The combo could be just the image-enhancing, volume-feigning move you need.

Postpartum hair loss is embarrassing but it shouldn’t be. It’s entirely natural. Your body just did an amazing thing: it created a human. YOU created a human. You are amazing. You are beautiful. Your hair will return and this will all be a memory. You’ve got this!