It’s time! After months of trying to conceive you get those two blue lines and you ugly cry as you rub your flat belly.
You’re pregnant! You make it through 9 months of morning sickness, exhaustion, excessive peeing, swollen ankles, and the oh-so attractive pregnancy waddle. You survived 20 hours of labor or major surgery if you had a C-section and you have arrived home with your tiny bundle.
Now what? The panic sets in and you wonder if you can actually do this. I really wish people had been more honest with me about motherhood. It was such a shock to the system, and I was absolutely unprepared.
So here is a list of 10 things I wish people had told me about motherhood. Hopefully, it will give your more insight into the mystery of motherhood than I had.
1. The first 6 months are a blur
Take photos! Ask your husband, your doula, your lactation consultant, or just take selfies but take all the photos you can! I even got my toddler to take some.
Those early days are a haze of sleepless nights, diapers, spit-up, laundry, and feeding schedules. I know that doesn’t sound romantic, and it isn’t. That doesn’t mean it isn’t full of wonderful moments, it is. But it is also hard!
But trust me, they lose that baby smell quickly and soon they are smiling and sitting and turning into adorable little humans. So, cherish those first few months when they are still tiny. When the world seems sparkly and new although overwhelming.
You have entered a phase of your life that will forever change who you are and it is important to honor that.
2. Feeding your baby is hard (and everyone will tell you how to do it!)
Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed or both, keeping your tiny human alive is tough! So many people will tell you that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, and for some lucky women, it is. But it can also be a genuine struggle!
This does not make you a failure. This does not make you a terrible mom. This makes you human and luckily, we live in a time when there is a wide range of options to keep your baby fed and healthy.
The breastfeeding journey can be beautiful but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be armed with buckets of nipple cream, cabbage leaves, and an electric breast pump. You might also have the best, BPA-free, state-of-the-art bottle at the ready but there is a good chance your baby won’t take it. Yep, you read that right.
Some babies are extremely fussy about the teat of the bottle. Trust me, I know. We tried 10 different brands before eventually finding the one my son would take. So, a word of advice, have a stash of fresh bottles on hand… just in case.
Also, be prepared for everyone to have an opinion about your feeding choices. But also, be prepared to completely ignore them as you find the best option for you and your baby!
3. Have enough frozen meals for an army
This is not an exaggeration! It is hard enough to keep your baby alive, let alone yourself, your partner, and any other kids you may have.
Whether you make beforehand and freeze or buy ready meals for the freezer, make sure you have a few weeks of dinner options ready to go. This will allow you to spend more time with your baby rather than stressing about food.
Maybe go one step further and put ready meals on your gift registry. This may seem extreme, but seriously, you will be so grateful that you had that lasagne rather than another stuffed toy!
4. You will get it wrong
All. The. Time. And that’s ok. Being a mom is the hardest thing you will ever do. Not only have you lost a bit of yourself but your body becomes an alien thing that jiggles and oozes and your perfect plan has gone out the window.
It’s about survival now. You do whatever works for you. And that might seem like the ‘wrong’ thing to someone else, but they aren’t you, and their baby is not your baby.
Everyone experiences motherhood differently and that is healthy. Every mom, new or old, makes mistakes and does things they wish they hadn’t. But you learn from it and do it differently the next time. That’s life. And it is important to remember that motherhood and life are not mutually exclusive. You need to find what works for you and your family and go with it.
5. Expect crazy hormones….and get help if you need it
You expect some hormonal changes after giving birth but Woah, they can be rough! Those first few weeks will have you laughing, crying, screaming, sulking and dreaming. They are a rollercoaster of emotions that will leave you exhausted and grateful to be alive.
For a lot of women, the hormones level out after a few weeks, but for others, hormones can be a doozy. Postpartum depression still isn’t spoken about as openly as it should be, and yet it affects so many women. Being in that dark place can terrify you and make you feel like the worst mother in the world. Get help if you need it! I waited a year before realizing what was happening and getting the help I needed and it was the darkest year of my life.
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t make you less capable, and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad mom. Quite the opposite actually. It takes incredible strength and courage to admit that you are not alright so keep that in mind.
6. You will never have enough wet wipes
I mean ever! Keep a pack everywhere, in every room, every bag, and in the car. There is nothing worse than being caught unprepared without a wet wipe in sight!
They also make a great cleaning aid in the kitchen and bathroom and you can consider yourself initiated into the mystical art of motherhood when you have cleaned your house and your face with a wet wipe.
7. Your house will never be clean again (at least not for the next 18 years)
Who would have thought that a small person could make so much mess! Kids tend to leave a trail of destruction behind them, and nothing is safe. Lego, blocks, crayons, and half-eaten apples will litter your home. And it doesn’t improve as they get older.
Instead, the mess grows with them. A slight consolation is that it is a brief season. One day they will be big and out of the house, leaving you missing their chaos as you sit on your play-dough-free sofa.
8. You will love your partner even more (even when you hate them)
There is something about creating a human together that deepens the connection you share with your partner. Watching them hold your child will have your heart melting and leave you a blubbering mess (thanks hormones).
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Sleep deprivation will have you at each other’s throats but those feelings disappear in the light of day and the gummy grin of your baby.
9. It’s never like the book or movie or story
No matter how you picture motherhood, it will be better and worse than you imagine. Nothing can prepare you for the love you will feel for your child. It’s like your body physically changes to be exactly what your baby needs and your heart expands right along with it.
But it is hard! No amount of reading can prepare you for a baby with colic who won’t stop crying or the high fevers of cutting that first tooth.
10. It will change who you are forever
Without a doubt, motherhood will change who you are forever. It will split your heart wide open and leave you vulnerable and terrified. It will expand your capacity to love and humble you as nothing else can.
You will learn to ask for help and discover an inner strength you never knew you had. Being a mom is scary, and wonderful, and exhausting, and everything you never knew you needed.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t miss the woman you were before. It is so easy to lose yourself in motherhood. Lose yourself in caring for the little person you have created. But it isn’t forever. As they get older, you have more time and freedom to rediscover who you were and explore who you have become. It is a glorious journey that will leave its mark on you forever.
And there you have it, raw, real motherhood and 10 things I wish I had known.
Talking about motherhood doesn’t have to focus on how amazing it is. Sure, moms want to hear how wonderful it is, but more than that, they need to know that everyone experiences motherhood differently.
They need to know that their experience doesn’t make them a terrible mother or make their mothering journey less valid. It is amazing to have a child, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult.
Being a mother requires patience, compassion, empathy, and grace. Remember that the next time you chat to a mom-to-be, or you are having a bad day with your own kids.