The challenges of motherhood/parenthood are no secret. What are challenges to me and what are challenges to you are not going to be the same, but there are challenges no less. What was most surprising for me during pregnancy, and well after, was how much everyone talked about those challenges...every chance they could. I just stumbled across some writing I did shortly after giving birth and absolutely none of it had to do with the challenges of our new reality.
Yes, there are things to be prepared for, but you’re giving birth to a fellow human. A human stripped down to your same most basic needs that you fulfill everyday. A human that doesn’t know day from night and may not sleep at the corresponding hours, but will still sleep. A human that will bring out the superhuman in you. So whatever doom people are spewing your way, trust me, you’re prepared. You can handle it.
I want to empower you, focus your attention on all the pleasantly unexpected things to come (the things we should be telling each other). Here’s what I remember most:
- Your adrenaline will last a long time! From that first contraction well into motherhood. I feel like mine lasted well into the 8 month range (impossible, but I had a horrible sleeper so the feeling was all that mattered).
- Hormones are real. The postpartum hormones are as well. They certainly aren’t as vicious or clear as the prenatal hormones, but they are a lingering reminder of the awesome things your body just did. Don’t beat yourself up about ‘em. Feel ‘em. Talk about ‘em. Move on. It can be that simple.
- Motherhood makes you brave. I’m kind of a shy person. I’m an awkward-says-too-much-in-a-desperate-kind-of-way person. But when you see another woman cradling a little baby in their arms all the ice is broken for you. You bond. I am still closest to some of the women I randomly approached (not in the creepy way I just made that sound). I don’t remember how our conversation started but it was something like, “I have a baby too, can we be friends?” The answer was always a resounding, “Yes!”
- There’s magic. There is so much magic. This is a given but it cannot and is not said enough. Every day, every hour, and sometimes twice in a minute. It’s all consuming, exhilarating, and so very enchanting. Sometimes you feel too lucky to have this much magic. Like Justin Timberlake said on Ellen this past week, “anyone who is a parent knows you’ve never been more excited to have someone pee on you.” True. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to believe it is ongoing. I used to be afraid I would lose myself in motherhood. I’ve mentioned this before, but I know no other experience could ever have led me to all that I have found in motherhood. It has refined everything I was before. I’m better because of it and I’m better for it.
- Mom’s are good researchers. Ask away about products, compare what they like and what you like and figure out why. It’s fun and turns days of research into two minutes of time. P.S. Amazon Prime is your new best friend (I didn’t believe it either).
- Ask for time. I don’t think you need help. You built this baby. You have got this. So I say, ask for time. Time to decompress, time for quiet, time to read to your baby, or time to sleep. Time to get your nails done, or be with your partner. Time to vent (you’ll need that one), or time to run. Just time. Time for you. Whatever that means for you (even if it means cuddling your baby). You deserve time.
- You do you. If you’re a schedule person, you find the schedule you like and you go, Mama! If you’re not, you go, Mama! I’m good at planning but I am not a schedule person. It took me a long (very long) sleep regression (okay, habit) to decipher between the two (and I’m still not positive that’s the right order). It took a lot of convincing and reminding for me to listen to my “mother’s intuition,” maybe because I didn’t recognize it or maybe because I didn’t trust it. Once you hear it, trust it, Mama! It’s right.