As you become Mama….
Your pictures flood my newsfeed and I can’t help but to “like” every one. Updated profile pictures from your maternity session, cover photos of your carefully curated nursery, and your weekly bump pictures all show you glowing in anticipation—your hands lovingly caressing your growing baby bump. I see your excitement and the dreams of your little one sparkling in your eyes. And while you may not know it yet, I do. So I wanted to take a minute as you become a mom, to let you in on something us mamas know all too well now, and I wish I would have known before.
1. Slow down.
The time flies by, so take time to be pregnant. This can be so hard to do! I couldn’t wait for my due date to arrive. I thought my baby would never be here, and suddenly I’m juggling a five-month-old, a laundry basket, and a four-hour-old mug of cold coffee, trying to safely get us all downstairs while mentally checking off my to-do list. Enjoy taking a ton of pictures—it doesn’t matter if it’s not the perfect bump photo, you’ll be glad to have them one day. Enjoy dressing up—while you may feel swollen, I promise others just see the cute little baby bump you’re sporting these days. Enjoy taking your time—to rest up and to feel little one roll around.
Embrace every minute, because soon you won’t feel those sweet little hiccups and midnight gymnastics. Embrace it, because soon you will no longer remember the swollen feet and never ending “morning” sickness. You’ll look back and only remember the quiet excitement as you carefully hung the nursery décor, dreaming of the day your sweet babe would be here. Yes, I know you can’t wait until they’re actually here, but trust me—cherish this time with them now, too.
You’ll soon know what they look like, and you’ll learn their little traits, and you’ll finally use that nursery for something other than sleepless nights due to too many bathroom breaks and an aching back. Then, just as a heads up: when they are here, some days every hour will feel like a day. But the same thing happens, one day you wake up and things have changed so much. While some things are suddenly easier, there will always be new challenges. But they too, in the blink of an eye, will pass. So take this time to learn to be present now, and enjoy your pregnancy, then your newborn, then your infant…
2. Momming is hard.
It is also, in so many ways, different than I imagined. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to do something you said you would never do. And you’re going to forget to do things you said you’d never NOT do. Oh, and just to let you know, the first (okay, and second and third) time you realize this, you’re going to feel guilty. I swear there is a hint of guilt in every decision you will make as a mother. There are feeding decisions, sleeping decisions, daycare decisions, and job decisions. That’s just the start of it. Then, there’s managing everyday life in this new “normal.” Maybe you order take-out every night for a week. Maybe you forget to take baby’s 4 month picture. Maybe babe has a blowout, and you just throw the outfit away rather than tackle the stain (and the giant, ever-growing pile of laundry in the basement). Either way, things change drastically once they’re here.
Do your best, do what you believe is best for you and your family, and do your best to support other mamas on their own paths too. We’re all in this together! You’ll learn this quickly. There is nothing like the support of other moms in the same stages you are; even a smile exchanged between two moms of screaming babies at Target is enough to give you the strength to get through the check out lane sometimes. It is hard, but it is worth it.
3. Your friendships will change…
…And that isn’t all bad! Through the early days with a newborn, some of my good friends have now become the best friends. I have found a friend that would talk to me at 4 am, listening to me complain of hormones and leaky breasts and no sleep; someone to listen to me wondering “What in the world was I thinking when I thought I could be a mom?!”…and all the while she would say, “I’ve been there too. You’ve got this.” (P.S., you’ll have those days. Remember #2? Being a mom can be downright hard sometimes. But I promise, you’ve got this. Those hard hours are fleeting and those first smiles, first coos, and first laughs are so worth it.) I have had friends that cheered me on with every milestone that baby (or I) hit. Friends that thought of us often and would reach out, even when I could hardly remember my name.
Sure, some friendships may fall by the wayside for a little while, maybe even forever, but some will be strengthened. Our real friends have been the ones that understand our last-minute bailing out of plans, the 7 pm bedtime we try and adhere to, and the “Can you just come over here instead and ignore our messy house? We can grill!” pleas. Also, thanks to motherhood I have met some incredible women I am now lucky enough to be able to call friends who I may have never met otherwise!
4. Your marriage will change.
Again—not a bad thing. Have you ever seen a handsome man holding an itty bitty baby? Make that your husband loving on your little one and *swoon*… your hubs’ awesome factor just went up a couple notches. Or when he holds your hand during hours of labor? Nothin’ but love. But, just a warning, pregnancy and birth and newborns do some crazy things to you. Your hormones are going to be crazy. Your sleep patterns are going to be crazy. Your eating habits are going to be crazy. You’re going to be meeting, and learning about, and caring for a new little baby all the while trying to take care of your own body that now feels somewhat foreign. Yes, you’re going to feel crazy.
You may fight with your spouse over who is pulling “all” the weight. (Hint: you’re both probably giving all you’ve got!) You may even feel like strangling your husband as he sleeps peacefully on the couch at 3 am while you sit and stare at him with milk all over your 2-day old tank top, spit up in your hair, and no sign of getting to go to bed any time soon. Or ever again. Never mind that he took the 3 am rocking shift last night, your brain doesn’t compute that far back anymore (just me?). Anyway, your communication, teamwork, and admiration for each other will definitely skyrocket after you start getting the hang of this parenting thing. Sure, there will always be hiccups, but there’s nothing like being in the trenches of parenthood together.
Through all of this, the number one thing I try to remember: Grace. Give yourself grace, and give it to those around you. Sometimes, it’s hard to give more of yourself at the end of the day when you don’t feel like you’ve got anything left. Sometimes, it’s hard to be present when you’ve been listening to crying since noon and it’s now 5 pm, and any amount of feeding, changing, rocking, singing, or bouncing is not working. Sometimes, it’s okay to count down the hours til bedtime. Just remember it’s a phase, and this too shall pass. You aren’t doing anything wrong, and it’s okay that you aren’t doing it the same as the next mom. As long as baby is cared for and you are doing what works best for you and your family, you are doing it right.
You are going to be given a thousand pieces of advice, all of them different, and you are going to have to make your own decisions. You can always change them later, too. Trust in yourself, believe in yourself, and learn to forgive yourself. Also remember that your nerves may be a little bit shot after a tough day, so try to be patient with those around you.
Even through all of this, sweet friend–the hours that feel like days, the lost friendships, the fights with your significant other, the tantrums, exhaustion, and the frustration like you’ve never known–you’re going to come out shining. I can see in that smile, and the love you are glowing with, you’re going to be an incredible mom. That sweet little baby who will soon be here will be so loved and so cared for, and trust me when I say they are just as lucky to have you as you are to have them. I know this, because I know you.
I can’t wait for you to experience motherhood. If you ever need anything—even to confirm whether or not the level of “crazy” you are feeling is normal or warrants a visit with your doctor–in the early days it’s a little hard to decipher! You’ve got an incredible support system, so lean on them!—I’m only a phone call away. Just know, as you become “Mama”, I am so excited for you.
This post originally appeared at the Cedar Rapids City Mom Blog.