To My Newly Pregnant Friend:
I know how excited and nervous and terrified you must feel all at the same time. There is no greater love than that of a mother for her a child. It’s the fiercest and deepest love you will ever experience, and it all starts before you even meet them.
Since this is your first pregnancy, I’m not going to tell you to get as much sleep as possible or to eat for two while you still have the chance. I’m sure you’ve heard that unsolicited advice more times than you can count by now. But I am going to tell you to take a few minutes each day and marvel at the miracle that is pregnancy. I know it’s hard to focus on the positives of pregnancy when you have to pee every two seconds and your walk has turned into a waddle, but just try to take two minutes every day to think about and appreciate what your body is doing.
You’re growing a real live human in there, and that’s pretty darn miraculous.
I don’t want to scare you, but pushing a baby out of your body, well, it hurts. There are lots of ways to have a baby, but every mom has the same goal: a healthy baby. So, by all means, create a birth plan, take birthing classes, create a labor music play list, but go into labor with an open mind, and remember that a c-section is still a birth, because I have yet to meet a mother whose birth went exactly as planned.
The first few months after having a baby are really tough.
Nursing can be difficult, and lack of sleep will probably make you say things you don’t really mean. And on top of all that, you have this beautiful precious baby that you’re now in charge of keeping alive for at least the next 18 years. You will most likely feel completely overwhelmed and totally underqualified. All I’m going to say is, it gets easier. With every diaper change and feeding and outing you’ll feel more confident, until one day you’ll realize you fed the baby while paying your cable bill online, while simultaneously stirring a pot of tomato sauce on the stove.
It. Gets. Easier.
Your baby will always be the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen, even when they are covered in spit up and have a mullet. That’s just how it is. When they smile at you, your heart feels like it’s going to explode. Sometimes you’ll look at them and be totally overcome with this intense feeling of pride. You’ll think to yourself: I made this perfect little human. But you’ll also worry. A lot. To illustrate this fact, here is a little sampling of things I’ve actually googled: Why are my baby’s eyes different sizes? How much spit up is normal? And of course, why won’t my baby nap for more than 20 minutes? I’m convinced that worry is what makes you a real mom. That and mom guilt, but we’ll save that for later.
At some point, you’ll probably feel as though you’ve lost yourself somewhere in between researching the best crib mattresses and making your own baby food. You won’t remember what life was like before this little human took over. This is normal, but remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Make an effort to get out for a date night with your partner or take a yoga class or read a book that does not have the word “parenting” in the title. Because as much as I love my children, as much as I would do anything for them, there are days when they annoy me to no end. Days when I look at the clock and think that there’s no way I’m going to make it to 5:00 pm. There is nothing more aggravating than a toddler running away from you when you’re trying to get them dressed and you’re already late for preschool drop-off. Oh, and the witching hour? That’s a real thing. Except it usually lasts closer to three hours.
I’m not going to sugarcoat motherhood for you, because you’ll find out soon enough that it’s not all baby cuddles and cookie baking.
I’ve held a baby on my lap while I peed in a public bathroom. I’ve wiped noses with my bare hands and cleaned up puke from freshly laundered sheets. I’ve had to cancel wine nights with my friends and call my neighbor in tears, because I couldn’t get my baby to latch correctly. I’ve felt burning resentment towards my husband because he gets to go to work and have conversations with people that don’t include the names of Sesame Street characters. I’ve gone days without showering. But much worse than cleaning up bodily fluids are the thousands of times I’ve wondered if I’m enough, the millions of times I’ve doubted my ability to be the mother my children deserve. There are days when it all just feels like too much, like I’m drowning in a sea of diapers and laundry, and if I find one more grain of dried rice on the kitchen floor I’m going to scream. (If you had told me five years ago that one day I’d lose it over a grain of rice, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet, here we are.)
But before you start thinking that motherhood is all guts and no glory, let me tell you about the days that make it all worth it.
I think every mom will agree that sprinkled in between the diaper changing and nose wiping and incessant whining are these perfect moments. Moments you wish you could store permanently in your memory like a movie to watch again and again because your three-year-old stopped you in the middle of a story just to say she loves you, and your baby laughed that irresistible baby laugh when you pretended to feed broccoli to her Elmo doll. Moments when you take back all those times when you wished time would just hurry up and pass already. So savor these moments and try to remember them on the days that feel endless and especially difficult. I’ve realized that time is a tricky thing when you’re a mom. It is possible to wish time would both speed up and slow down.