Rattled is Real

I saw a commercial on TV for a new TLC reality show called Rattled, which chronicles every minute of parenthood for four sets of first-time, inexperienced and terrified parents.

At least it appears that most of the couples are terrified, except one mom in the commercial who expresses her opinion that the new baby will have to “fit into our lifestyle, not the other way around.” (I might be paraphrasing.)

Uh, what?  Is this lady kidding?  Did producer Drew Barrymore make her say that so every other parent on the face of the earth would set the DVR to record each episode so they can laugh at this unsuspecting mother’s inevitable demise?

Maybe not. When I really thought it and asked myself who could possibly be so clueless about how demanding, exhausting, and nerve-wracking it is to parent a newborn, I remembered, “Oh, yeah. Me.”

I wasn’t as bad as another couple I heard of who brought their baby home from the hospital with one package of Huggies, which they expected to last a week. (It lasted one night.) But clearly, I expected that a new baby was going to be a charming and manageable enhancement to my life, not an energy-sucking drain on my time, health and sanity.

I didn’t sleep for months. The most I could do was squeeze in quick catnaps within a 24 hour span and I dragged myself through daylight hours feeling like I was in a constant brain fog. There were days I barely had time to shower, and wondered why I even bothered because my sweet little baby made sure I smelled like barf within minutes of exiting the shower anyway. My hormones raged, my patience waned and at 4AM feedings, I resented feeling like my sole purpose in life was to be a human cow for a tiny, vulnerable creature that completely depended on me for his wellbeing.

It was a difficult, hormonal, wonderful time. After a few weeks, my baby boy smiled and I melted into a pool of emotional maternal mush.

“It’s just gas,” my mother said.

I didn’t care, because for a fleeting second, I felt loved and appreciated by this beautiful, unpredictable, foul-smelling “crybaby” that I called my son.

Don’t kid yourself. NOBODY is prepared for a new baby. No matter how educated, intelligent and successful you are in life, you can’t possibly understand how much care and attention a brand new human being requires until you have to feed, diaper, bathe, protect, comfort and love one every day, twenty-four hours a day.

I wouldn’t change one minute of it.

I’m probably not going to watch Rattled, though. I’m not a big fan of reality shows. There is only so much Honey Boo Boo, Kim Kardashian, and Real Housewives I can take, which is NONE.

But I have only good wishes for these new Rattled parents, especially the mom who thinks her baby should adapt his or herself to “fit into our lifestyle.”

As millions of TV viewers will witness, her reality is about to get a lot more real.

Ann K. Howley is the author of the award-winning memoir,  Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad. She is a regular contributor to Pittsburgh Parent Magazine and won the First Place Prize for Nonfiction in the 2015 Pennwriters Writing Contest.  Follow her on Twitter @AnnKHowley