What my mothering journey has taught me so far:

  1. you CAN get pregnant your first try. I mean, I knew you could, but didn’t actually think it would happen.
  2. it is okay to let your baby cry, or not hold them every second. When I was pregnant, I honestly believed that my baby would need me at all times, no exceptions. I didn’t even put together the swing I was gifted because I had read that babies don’t need “toys”, just their mom. And for some strange reason, I believed this. The second day we brought Everett home, Chris put his swing together and I’ve never looked back. Babies don’t need to be hanging on you every second, especially after the newborn stage. And if they cry just because they’re crying, that is okay and that is not what neglect is, nowhere near it.
  3. breastfeeding is hard, and lip/tongue tie and mastitis are real problems. I never DREAMED I would have issues breastfeeding. Never. People here and there would mention how difficult it can be, and I just nodded them off like, “Well it won’t be like that for me.” And guess what? It was. I tortured myself trying to succeed, only to make myself miserable. I’ll tell you all about our feeding adventures another day.
  4. all the reading and baby books cannot make you prepared. I read so many books and watched so many birth videos and documentaries. Let me say that maybe 1% of it all I remember or have used in real life. I never read in depth about mastitis, or saw a birth that was even remotely like mine. I never read about how utterly annoying your partner can be when you have a newborn, and that it’s okay to fantasize about jumping into a speeding car, never to return to the crazy confusion a baby brings.
  5. expensive does not equal better when it comes to baby toys/gadgets, cribs/swings etc. I used to think Fisher Price stuff looked so cheesy, and rolled my eyes at all their products. Everything Everett now has is from Fisher Price or Evenflo. Their products are 99% cheaper than the brands I used on my registry. And yes it can be dorky and loud and colorful, but guess what? That’s what babies like. I am thankful for my nice car seat and pack and play, hoping that they last for the next fifteen years and I’ll get their money’s worth. Oh wait, not the car seat–those are only to code for 5 years. Yet another thing I never knew prior baby.
  6. a baby will give a new meaning to the word love. Nana would always tell me when I was pregnant, “You never really fall in love until you have a baby,” and I’d think yea yea, I know what love is. I thought that Chris had every ounce of love that could ever exist in me. But Everett made it double, and what I have for that baby is beyond love. He is my life, my purpose, my world. That’s what happened when I become a mother; I am no longer the center of my own universe. The change happened in an instant, and nothing could have prepared me for it.
  7. Stretch marks happen and boobs change. My one month of breastfeeding changed mine, a lot. And luckily I got away with little stretch marks, but I understand that they are a natural part of the process. I still have that vertical brown line running up my belly from pregnancy and to be honest, I love it. When I look in the mirror and see its reflection, I am reminded how I carried Everett in my belly and brought that beautiful boy into this world.
  8. labor can last over 24 hoursI can matter of fact say, no one told me this. And I honestly never read that a labor could stretch on for an entire day. Maybe I was reading the wrong books? But nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for what a drug free labor means, especially when you have one that progresses on sloth speed and a baby with shoulder dystocia. Never again will I put myself in a situation where I feel like I’m fighting for my life. And never again will I put my husband in the position to watch me fight for my life. Because that is really the only feeling I remember about our birth. I think an epidural would have worked wonders. But who knows. Maybe the midwives were right when they said it was a good thing Everett had no drugs–that that may have made our complications even worse. But there is nothing wrong with getting an epidural, or a c-section or however your baby comes. The only thing that matters is that Everett is here, with me, and before I actually had him in my arms, it was difficult to understand that concept. Everything I read trained me to think that having a natural birth was superior. Superior? That is so phony. Get your baby on earth, end of story. No one cares how you did it, just that you did.
  9. formula will not harm or hurt your baby. I thought this before I fed it to Everett, and would feel so sorry for a baby who wasn’t getting their mothers milk. And the books I read did everything short of shaming it (geez, what books was I reading??!). Formula actually saved us and I am no longer embarrassed to pull out his bottle and powder in public.
  10. help is wonderful. For some reason I thought refusing help made me strong, like I can do this all on my own. Well, unbeknownst to me, when I couldn’t really walk after giving birth, I needed help with laundry and needed someone to clean my toilet. I learned very quickly to have our family help in every way they could, and I’ll know for the next baby that relying on them won’t make me weak, but smart.
  11. after having a baby, you will want/need your mother like never before. I learned this, and am still learning it, every time I have a question, every time I need help, every time I witness something new that Everett has learned, and every time I leave the pediatrician office, wanting to call the only person who will care that he weighed 17 pounds at his four month appointment.
  12. the internet is terrible for information. I get the best advice from people who have already experienced what I’m questioning. I go to Grandma for baby questions most of the time. Grandmothers are best for advice–they raised twice as many kids as women do present day, had little money while doing it, a teeny tiny house and NO Google.
  13. the importance of “us” time. I never imagined how much a baby could change Chris and I. In the beginning it scared me; I thought we would never be happy again like we were. The home and relationship dynamics shifted so fast, there was absolutely no time to adapt. But it became our new normal, and we got the hang of things, and eventually we got more sleep and I was cleared after my six week appointment, which allowed me to remember why I had a baby with this man in the first place.
  14. the importance of “me” time. My time is yoga. It is my escape, it is the “old” part of me, alive again. Whether it’s reading, or walking with Clifford alone, making that time for myself is not selfish. It is necessary. Sitting on the toilet for an extra twenty five minutes, staring at my Facebook sometimes does the trick.
  15. it all comes down to loveIt really does. If you love your body, you will respect its changes and whatever way it birthed your baby. If you love your family, you will have them around. If you love your husband, you will make sure to find time for just the two of you, even if it takes five months post baby. And if you love your baby, you will know how to take care of him/her, you will not need to buy expensive things, you don’t have to breastfeed to feel a connection, you don’t have to feel guilty when you leave for a few hours, you will forget about sleep (well, somewhat), and you will understand that all the chaos and confusion in your life, means you have a family surrounding you.

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