Well hey there, mama expecting her first child! Wow, your life is about to change for the wonderful. I hope you’re surviving the summer heat in stride with that little hot cake in the oven.
I’m not planning on having another baby any time soon, but I have a thousand and one friends expecting, so I’ve collaborated and compiled a list of things I wish I had known when I was pregnant with my first. And it’s very free for your taking (or leaving).
1. Feeling insecure and ill-equipped is completely commonplace. If you don’t feel it yet, you will at some point. After everything goes down (literally) and you get home with your new bundle and you’re feeling unfit and unhinged, remember: You WILL survive, as crazy as life feels right now and things WILL eventually settle down!
2. I won’t sugarcoat. It ain’t all PBK (Pottery Barn Kids) and Pinterest and milestone pics. I’m sure your pin boards are downright swoonable, but there’s some real life s…tuff that is better left experienced than prepped for. We’re talking blowouts, spit-ups, dirty dishes, stretched belly skin and sleepless nights. All completely normal. Let go of perfection. Give yourself grace.
3. You will never again take for granted running into a store for one item. In fact, you should go on a tour around town and get one doughnut, one grocery, one piece of scrapbook paper, on and on…until your swollen preggo feet can’t handle it anymore. You will miss this luxury, and you probably won’t have it again for a LONG time.
4. The things people say “make you go into labor” are wives tales. Try whatever you want, but your baby will come when it comes, the way it comes.Which leads me to #5.
5. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay!! It’s OKAY if you don’t have a natural, drug-free birth. It’s OKAY if you don’t breastfeed. It’s okay if you want to do those things! Don’t believe the lies about you being a bad mom. Don’t let anyone talk down at you or make you feel bad about your choices that are best for your family. The pressure and temptation to compare starts on day one. Resist the urge!
*Disclaimer: If you do decide to breastfeed, expect it to hurt a lot the first few weeks. Don’t be surprised if you want to quit. There are lots of local support groups, milk sharing groups and lactation advocates who can help, if you want to try to keep going. Our daughter had a stage 4 lip tie that we didn’t know about until way late, but that hindered our ability to nurse successfully until she figured it out. I wish I would have known that you can get them removed by a laser or cut by a plastic surgeon; it would have saved us a lot of pain and frustration!
6. Giving birth hurts. Yeeps!!! I didn’t realize how much it would…people don’t really talk about it. But it’s completely and totally wonderful and WORTH IT! Don’t be afraid! Along these lines…
7. Take the ibuprofen (and laxatives) right away. All glorious 800mg of it, every 8 hours. Trust me, you’ll be counting. And stool softeners, too, because you’ll probably be scared to go #2. Yep, I just said that. Along the same TMI lines that you will find yourself crossing before you know it…
8. Freeze some post partum pads in advance. You will (hopefully) only need a few, so make a big batch with a friend and split them. Your hoo-ha will thank you. Also buy some Tucks pads and some massive maxi pads in advance so your sweetie doesn’t have to. (Doesn’t this all sound so glorious?!)
9. Go with the flow! If your baby isn’t sleeping or eating, don’t worry, he will eventually do both! As far as milestones, let your baby progress at his own rate. Each baby is different and his/her uniqueness should be embraced. But it can’t hurt to pray for an easy one.
10. You don’t need every gadget! It’s all a great big marketing lie. They come out with a new and improved version of each item almost weekly. Dang them. Wait until your “little” arrives to try stuff out (preferably at a friend’s house) and see what your baby likes. Another idea is to buy gently used stuff! I’ve heard WAY too many times “I spent $(insert exorbitant amount of money) on (insert gadget name) and my baby hates it.”
*I will share my top 10 baby shower gifts list, though, because I’ll endorse these things til the cows come home and maybe you can discreetly share it with all of your shower attendees ;).
11. Babies are crazy resilient. Falling down stairs, spitting up a TON, bonking his little head, etc. Yep–you will embrace their resiliency and be thankful for it!
12. You will cry. (Potentially a lot). Happy tears, sad tears, frustrated tears, tired tears, tears mourning the life you had pre-baby etc. Par for the course, my friend.
If you think you might have post-partum depression, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.
13. You need to sleep when your baby sleeps. You will not have this luxury when/if you have subsequent children. DON’T IGNORE THIS ONE! The housework will always be there waiting.
14. You should expose them to big stuffed characters (like the Chick-Fil-A cow, Santa, etc) earlier rather than later.
15. Friends and friendships will change, just as life changes.
16. Don’t let them suck their cutie little thumbs. I get it, it’s pretty much the cutest and most convenient thing ever. Til they turn three and you can’t get them to stop and everyone says, “oh yeah, mine sucked his thumb til he was 21 years old.” GASP. His little teeth! And germs…help! (can you tell I’m dealing with trying to wean my thumb sucker? See picture below.) I’m kinda kidding on this one. Thumb sucking is totally up to you, I for one have no room to judge anyone for anything.
17. You will have to become VERY intentional about taking time for yourself. Do it anyway. I highly endorse deep breathing, yoga, working out, naps, the occasional pedi, girl time, etc. Along those same lines…
18. You will have to guard time with your spouse like a toddler guards his toys(ferociously, if you didn’t know.) Your marriage is the foundation of your family. Find ways to stay connected with your spouse; it’s worth the sacrifice!
19. You need friends who will give you pep talks when you’re losing your mind/temper/cookies. There will be days in which your baby will be teething, not sleeping, diarheeing, and/or crying incessantly. Lucky for you, these things usually come as a package deal. You will need all the support you can get.
20. And last but not least, not everyone’s advice is for you. It will fly at you from every direction. You will do what is very best for you, your family and your sweet little bundle of joy who will grow up way too fast.
On the days you’re food, sleep, water, and adult interaction deprived…you will discover the incredible strength of a mama.
In your weak moments, you need to look at your beautiful (disheveled) face in the mirror and tell yourself what I’ve had to tell myself so many times in these crazy first three years of parenthood,“YOU CAN DO THIS! Motherhood may be one of the hardest jobs on the planet but it’s worth it! You were made to be this kid’s mama, and you’re doing a phenomenal job!”
Seasoned mamas, what would you add to the list?