Whenever I hear about a new couple who is expecting their first baby, one thing goes through my mind:
If they only knew what was coming…
There is so much I’d like to tell new mamas-to-be about what is coming their way when they welcome their little ones into the world, from the good and the wonderful to the ugly and the hard. So if you’re expecting a baby in 2018, here’s what one mama of four would like you to know:
It’s OK if pregnancy is awful for you
No matter what kind of journey you’ve been through, from pregnancy loss to difficulty conceiving to getting pregnant right away, no pregnancy is the same. Going through several miscarriages before getting pregnant might change your perspective on the hardships of pregnancy, but it might not change the physical experience that much. And that’s OK. Recognizing that pregnancy can be difficult for some women doesn’t mean being ungrateful or unappreciative of having a baby.
It’s also OK if pregnancy is easy-peasy for you
On the flip side, if pregnancy is a piece of cake for you and you barely gain any weight and the only swelling you get is on your chest and you bounce back with no difficulty after giving birth and you’re almost feeling guilty for how easy it all seems for you, don’t waste any time feeling bad. Seriously. Be glad you’re one of the lucky ones. Not everything has to be hard for everyone and your experience is valid, too.
It might get really lonely
Some of my hardest, loneliest times in life have been spent at home with little people. It’s hard to explain what it can feel like when it seems that the rest of the world is happening outside of the four walls you’re trapped in at home with a baby. If that happens to you, reach out. Connect with other moms, other women, and other people in any way you can. I promise it will be worth it. And if you need professional help, get it. Sometimes just talking out your feelings with a therapist can be a lifesaver.
Don’t listen to the typical advice
I have been a mom for almost ten years now, and I still get sucked into reading articles about ways I can improve my life as a stay-at-home mom. Typically, they are things like getting dressed in the morning, wearing makeup or doing your hair so you don’t feel totally “lost” to motherhood. And while those things might work for you, if they don’t, don’t listen to them! I have learned that I am happier just embracing comfy clothes and no makeup and the mom bun instead of fighting the uphill battle constantly. Why do we always try to make women feel like we need to change our appearance to be “better,” anyways?
There literally is no one way to be a mom
I know so many amazing moms making life and parenting work in ways that I honestly never would have thought of. I know doctors and nurses and artists and professionals and stay-at-home moms and singers and just about every type of mom you can think of. There are breastfeeding moms and pumping-only moms and formula moms and moms who do a little bit of all three. I used to think there were only two types of moms: working moms or stay-at-home moms, and now I know the truth: we are all just trying to hobble together life as a mom to the best of our ability. And we all have our own ways of doing just that.
Know that you are doing amazing things
I think that, as first-time moms, we tend to underestimate how much work we are actually doing. I mean, tons of women have done this and gone before us, right? A lot of people have babies! It’s no big deal!
But the truth is, it is a big deal. There has never been this particular baby born to this particular family in this particular moment in history. Having a baby changes every single aspect of your life, from when you can go to the bathroom to how you work to what your evenings look like. Heck, every single cell in your body changes when you have a baby.
So my plea to all you mamas waiting to meet your babies this year is that you will be kind to yourselves. Recognize that you are doing an amazing thing and recognize there are a lot of lies that we are told about motherhood these days. Your pregnancy might be easy or hard, your days at home might be awesome or heartbreakingly lonely, and your journey to working or staying home might be one that you have to discover on your own.
But no matter what, know that you are already doing a great job as you start on a journey that will change your heart in all the very best ways.