How to Whiten Sensitive Teeth and Build Confidence in 2 Weeks*

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When I was pregnant with Forrest, I felt more confident than I ever had before. I loved being pregnant, even though I later found out that I was having what is often thought of a difficult pregnancy. (In my defense, if you have nothing to compare pregnancy to, it's hard to know if it sucks or not!) 

It was after I had Forrest that I started to feel really less-than-confident. Not only had my body been radically altered, but I felt like my entire face was different! I got very puffy during pregnancy and, even in the weeks that followed, I continued to look quite puffy and bloated. 

During pregnancy, I developed prenatal gingivitis. This is extremely common and is almost always something you can't really prevent from happening; I'd never had issues with my teeth before and I took extremely good care of my teeth. But my smile was affected by pregnancy, no matter how well I took care of my teeth. 

I worked really hard postpartum to improve my dental health--and I'm glad to say I don't have gingivitis anymore, thankfully! But my nervousness over my teeth, and how they look, had taken its toll. I knew I needed to try to gain some confidence back when it came to my smile. 

Enter Smile Brilliant. I had tried other tooth whitening systems in the past but found them cumbersome or so mild that they had no effect. I also didn't have the money to pay for professional whitening at my dentist's (trust me, I asked). So when I heard about Smile Brilliant, I knew I wanted to try it. And thankfully, the process is super simple! 

The Process

The Process - Smile Brilliant

Your first whitening kit comes with supplies to make tooth impressions, plus all the whitening and desensitizing gel you'll need for later. I had so much fun doing my impressions for my trays; I know that sounds dorky, but mixing up the base and catalyst was really fun. You just mix them together and press into the blue tray, then press onto your top or bottom teeth. (Then repeat for whichever ones you didn't do!) Once you've done your impressions, you let them dry and mail them back to Smile Brilliant, where they make you a set of your own, customer trays

That's really the secret to Smile Brilliant: these aren't generic trays or strips that might not fit on your teeth. Because they fit so well, it's easier to get an even whitening on your teeth! The process is so simple and fast; it felt like it took barely any time at all!  

But Does It Work?

Before and After | Writing Between Pauses

Once I got my trays, I was so excited to start! Since I received a sensitive kit (as I have quite sensitive teeth), I first use the whitening gel for about 30 minutes. I then use the desensitizing gel for 25 minutes. Within my first week of use, my husband commented on how much brighter my smile looked. If that's not a compliment, I don't know what is!

I used Smile Brilliant every night for about 10 days to achieve these results. I took a break after 10 days (and I'll talk about why in a little bit) and then started whitening every other day after that. On the days after I whitened, I tried to avoid anything that might heavily stain my teeth, like tomato sauce or coffee (that was a tough one). 

I'm really, really happy with my results. I bought a lavender lipstick a while ago that I absolutely love--but when I smiled, it made my teeth look so stained! I had pretty white teeth before, but that lipstick made them look dingy. I'm excited to try it again now that my teeth are brighter and whiter. There is nothing like having a brighter smile that makes you feel more confident about your appearance. 

A Few Notes

After 10 days, I experienced something that is known as "blanching": basically, I burned my gums with the whitening gel. The Smile Brilliant instructions are really specific about how much gel to put in my trays--but I had accidentally added a bit more than usual and thought, "It will be fine!" It wasn't fine. Within 5 minutes, my gums on the left side of my mouth were burning. I took it off and rinsed, then wore the desensitizing gel for about 15 minutes in the hope that it would help. My gums were fine within 24 hours, but it was a big lesson: follow the instructions! 

As I said, I have quite sensitive teeth, so I received a sensitive kit from Smile Brilliant; the desensitizing gel is an important step if you have more sensitive teeth because it helps bolster your teeth back up some you don't damage them. 

It goes without saying that if you want to try a whitening kit like Smile Brilliant, you should speak to your dentist first. I just gave my dentist a call and talked to him about it; he checked out the website and gave me the ok, with a reminder to follow their instructions and not go overboard.

Try It Yourself! 

I loved whitening my teeth with Smile Brilliant. To enter to win a credit for a Smile Brilliant kit, click here. You have 7 days to enter; this giveaway is open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents. 

If you'd like to try Smile Brilliant, click here to purchase your own kit** and use coupon code WRITINGBETWEENPAUSES15 for 15% off! 

Disclaimer: As always, an asterisk (*) in the title of this post indicates that this is a sponsored post. I received my Smile Brilliant whitening kit for free in exchange for review from Smile Brilliant. However, all opinions are my own. As well, affiliate links are marked with a double asterisk (**); I do receive a small commission for any orders placed through these links. It helps me keep Writing Between Pauses running! To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here

5 Gift Ideas for New Moms

One of the most common questions my non-mom friends ask me is, "What should I get so-and-so for a gift? Once she has her baby?" It's sometimes hard to know what exactly to give someone when they've just had a baby--and you don't really want to bug the new parents by asking what, exactly, they'd like. I thought I'd share a few ideas. 

1. Food. 

When in doubt, give food: gift cards for their closest pizza place, meals to shove in the freezer, groceries that make easy meals, or pre-made snacks. One thing that I ate pretty much non-stop when Forrest was a newborn was turkey sandwiches. So if you really don't know what to do, make some food, buy some groceries, or pick up a few gift cards so they can pick up take out. 

2. Gift cards

Again, gift cards are one of the best gifts you can give, either for food or groceries, or, alternatively, places they would need to pick up something quick. I basically fell in love with everyone who sent me a Target or Wal-Mart gift card in the newborn days; my husband and I ended up going to Target at least once a day for the first two weeks to get things we just hadn't thought of (more diaper cream, Vaseline, diapers, a head support for the car seat). A few ideas include Target, Babies'r'Us, Wal-Mart, WalGreens, their local grocery store, or Amazon. 

3. A clean house. 

People really underestimate how nice it is to have a clean house. I remember feeling like I would never have order again when we brought Forrest home; I'd been in the hospital for over a week and a half, I hadn't seen my house in days, there was mail and stuff and boxes everywhere from people sending us things, bringing us things, and trying to organize without me being there. Plus, we had all this baby furniture moved around. So here's my piece of advice: hire a cleaning service for your new mom friend OR go and vacuum, pick up, and clean for her. 

4. Time.

When Forrest was around 3 weeks old, my mom came over one afternoon so that I could take my first shower in like 8 or 9 days. It was the best 40 minutes of my life. If you have a new mom friend, sanitize your hands and body incredibly well, make sure you don't even have an inkling of a cough, and ask if she'd like you to hold the baby while she showers, or pays bills, or lies in bed. Holding a newborn is pretty great tbh.  

5. A necklace. 

All of these gifts are great. But some people really, really want to get moms something more... substantial than just useful. If you're this kind of person (which is awesome), I highly recommend something commemorative. It doesn't have to be super expensive. I have a bracelet with a little blue bead that my mother-in-law gave me after Forrest was born and I love it. A necklace or simple bracelet is a great idea. I like this simple stone necklace. This personalized Tree of Life necklace is gorgeous. This simple ring is perfect for a mom who doesn't wear a ton of jewelry. Confession, I'm actually thinking of ordering this super cool necklace for myself

None of these gifts tickle your fancy? Most importantly, you know your friend better than anyone else. Give something from the heart, whether that means a gift card, a big hug, or a pizza. One note I'd like to include is please don't get new moms anything "feeding specific": if your friend is struggling with breastfeeding, it can feel like a lot of pressure to review a breastfeeding pillow, breast milk bags, or a breastfeeding shawl. 

3 Ways Pregnancy Changes Your Body

I had heard the horror stories, trust me. I knew what pregnancy would do to my body. It’s impossible to go through a nearly 40 week process where one of your organs multiplies to 500 times its normal size (and effectively moves everything in your body to a new position), where you grow an entirely new organ as well as a very small human being, brain and all, without feeling some shock waves. 

But I was not entirely prepared for the scope and breadth of just how my body would change. What am I talking about? Well, let’s address 3 major changes that literally no one told me about. 

1. I became allergic to contacts. 

At a certain point in pregnancy, you have so much extra fluid that your vision can become blurry. It’s incredibly common. What else is common? Becoming allergic to contacts after you give birth. Thanks, Forrest! 

I’ve worn contacts since I was 14. I almost never wore my glasses out in public. And yet, after I had Forrest, every time I put in my contacts, my eyes burned, my vision blurred, and I felt generally miserable. After a few eye doctor visits, I found out the truth: my eyes were rejecting contacts. It’s all glasses all the time for me now. 

2. Some pregnancy symptoms become semi-permanent.

I developed really severe carpal tunnel when I was pregnant. This is because, again, you have so much extra fluid in your body that it puts pressure on all of your joints (this is also why your ankles and knees and hips and just about everything else hurts). My carpal tunnel was so bad towards the end of my pregnancy that my hands would go numb and I wouldn’t be able to move them until I held them up for several minutes. Cool!

For about 8 months after I had Forrest, I had pretty several wrist pain. I couldn’t pick up anything heavy with my left hand or put any pressure on that wrist. It was the worst when it came to my carpal tunnel, so it made sense. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized I also now have a gigantic bone spur on my left wrist; it is so sharp you can see it through the skin. Cool! I also have near permanent carpal tunnel; some mornings, my left hand is still numb. 

3. Everything you thought you knew about your cycle is now wrong. 

So, I bet you thought that once you were 28 and a mom, you’d have the whole menstrual cycle thing down pat. Well, guess what? WRONG. Pregnancy does this super fun thing to your body where it basically changes everything you ever thought you knew about your cycle. Never used to get cramps? Surprise! Cramp town! Used to be incredibly regular? Psych! Never had cravings? Boom, welcome to chocolate-covered-pretzel-town! You’ll look back in fondness at those pre-pregnancy days of having at least a moderate understanding of your cycle. For the lucky few, maybe things haven’t changed that much. For the rest of us, wave goodbye. 

Hey! This isn’t to say that everything about pregnancy is bad. All these things happen—the terrible skin, the cowboy walk (yikes), the saggy boobs—but you also get a baby. And that’s pretty great.

A New Mom's Guide to Beauty

It's worth repeating more than once: no one mom's journey is the same as any one else's. This is the only true fact I can give you about motherhood: maybe you (you know, you) are reading this and you're already a mom and you're like, Michelle, you take this way too seriously. It's not so bad. Or maybe you are reading this and you aren't a mom yet, and you're like, Oh my god, W H Y would I ever want to take this on? But the truth is: you might have had an easier time than me OR you might have an easier time OR you might have a worse time than me (scary thought). It's impossible to know. 

But what I can tell you is that beauty and fashion become incredibly unimportant, and yet, incredibly alluring, in one fell swoop. I don't know how else to describe it. Never have I had less time for beauty and fashion, and never has my skin and face and body been less apt for any of this, but I just can't keep away. I read more fashion blogs than ever; I read lifestyle blogs by the pound; and I watched beauty YouTubers everyday at work. I even forked over $52 for Nikkietutorial's Too Faced palette. Is that sad? No, it's awesome. 

When I say this is a new mom's guide to beauty, that new mom is me. I can only tell you what has worked for me and how I've helped myself to feel pretty when I feel I am slowly becoming a rock upon which a sea anemone (Forrest) lives. It's hard not to feel reduced to simply a life source (and that's it) as a new mom, but I'm here to tell you: you matter; you deserve to put on make up and shower and wash your hair and put on something other than leggings (unless you want to wear leggings, I can't blame you). 

Here's how I got my groove back, a little bit at a time. 

Step #1: I set small, realistic goals for myself. 

One of the very first goals for myself was that I would wear pants (real pants) to work every day. When I first went back to work, thanks to the casual nature of my office, I wore leggings and sweaters and sweatshirts. Not....super flattering and also not a great way to feel good about yourself every day. I set a goal to wear jeans, or maybe even a dress, every single day. And real shoes, not my Uggs. 

Once I successfully passed that hurdle, I set other goals: washing my hair every day, packing my lunch, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, taking Forrest for a walk. As I got more brave, I felt increasingly good about myself. 

Step #2: I treated myself to something I wanted. 

Listen: moms, as a rule, seem to put their kids first. It's natural. It's normal. It is what it is. But, here's the thing: you matter too. Sometimes, I will make lists of things I need (legitimately, actually need): I need work dresses and new jeans and professional tops and a new blazer. I have bought 0 of these things, but Forrest has western print jammies for every size in the foreseeable future. I'd rather buy Forrest a new book, a new toy, a new outfit than myself something. The more I did that, though, the more I realized I was sabotaging all my efforts to feel good about myself. 

I'm not saying you should go hogwild. There is a middle ground and I definitely believe in limiting spending on things that aren't necessary. But if you need new clothes because all you feel like you can wear are leggings and tank tops, it's ok to give yourself the gift of some new duds. Or if you've been scraping out your foundation container for two weeks, it's time to bite the bullet and just treat yo' self. 

Step #3: Screw it--I did whatever I wanted. 

At the end of the day, my job as a mom is this: to keep my son happy and healthy; to keep my house clean enough so it's at least safe for his survival; and to be happy myself. That's it. None of us are perfect. And certainly, I'm never going to be a perfect mom. I'm going to make mistakes. But I don't want one of those mistakes to be hating myself--and passing that kind of behavior onto Forrest. I want Forrest to see me for what I am: a woman who is his mom, who feels beautiful, who feels smart, who takes care of herself, who takes care of other people. He doesn't need a martyr or a perfect mom. He just needs me. And if I have to hand him off to Danny for a few hours each weekend to go work out, or run, or grocery shop, then so be it. He's not going to grow up and say, "Mom, you spend 30 minutes putting on make up that made you happy--and it ruined me." That's just not going to happen. 

Beauty is ultimately a way for us to repair our relationships with ourselves. And for some women, new clothes and learning to put make up on in a way that makes them feel beautiful is one way to do that--it won't work for every body, but it works for me and that's all I can tell you. 

After becoming a mom, it's easy to feel small, to feel a little downtrodden, especially in the early months. But you don't have to. It doesn't have to keep going. I've been in a relationship with myself for 27 years--it's okay for me to take time to work on that relationships, to feel good about myself, to take steps to repair the damage that's been done. And it's okay for you too--however you choose to. 

I Have Postpartum Depression

Let's set the scene. 3 weeks after Forrest was born. I sat in the reclining chair in my living room, holding this bundle of blanket and very small human. There were nipple pads shoved into my bra. My back hurt. I'd been up all night, pumping and feeding. Forrest cried, and cried, and cried. I sang to him. I sang every song I could think of. I hadn't left the house in over a week. Most days, the only time I moved was to get more coffee, grab a snack, or pump--otherwise, I sat on the couch, or in the chair, with Forrest. I started to cry and I couldn't stop. I wanted to be anywhere but there.

I loved Forrest with an intensity that bordered on obsessive: I worried about every little thing and recorded it, carefully, in an app that cost $5. But that love wasn't enough. The depths of my misery reached further into me. I wanted to both take care of him 24/7 and have someone else just offer to help me. I wasn't sleeping, period; at my 4 week appointment, my doctor would go through the calendar with me and count hours I had slept since the day I was induced. The number would be staggeringly low. So low, that when people tell me about "not sleeping" now, I want to dare them to wander into the danger zone of "so little sleep, you may actually die." 

Here's the lucky part of the story: because of Forrest's low birth weight and my preeclampsia, we went to the doctor near constantly. Forrest's pediatrician gave me these tests called "Edinburgh tests" that measured my likelihood of postpartum depression. My own OB was also monitoring me for PPD: women who give birth early, are unable to breastfeed, and have low birthweight babies are more likely, than other group, to develop PPD due to both hormonal and environmental factors. 

By our appointments at 4 weeks, I was diagnosed with PPD and started treatment. 

It's hard to describe now, because I feel like a completely different person. The circumstances around Forrest's birth, my sadness at not being able to breastfeed him, my severe sleep deprivation... it all added up to PPD.

I want to say that the minute I started treatment, I was a different person. But that's just not true. It took a lot of things to get me "feeling normal" again. It took treatment, which was hard and expensive and in many ways, unpleasant; it took letting go of breastfeeding and supplementing with formula, because it was the best thing for my mental health; it took going back to work, giving myself time away from Forrest and not feeling guilty about it. 

I started to feel better, more like my pre-labor & delivery self around 8 months postpartum. 8 months. It took almost 7 months of treatment and self-care to start feeling better, to stop snapping at Danny, to start cleaning my house again.

Sometimes, I will wander across an article about the rates of postpartum depression: who gets it and who doesn't. Sometimes, the comments, and the mom groups that post such articles, like to draw lines: bad moms get PPD and good moms don't. But postpartum depression doesn't pick sides in the mommy wars. 

One statistic that always sticks out to me is that moms who formula feed are at a higher risk of PPD. Horrible, judgmental women use this as evidence that "choosing to formula feed" means that you develop less of a connection to your baby and therefore, are a "bad mom." The truth is, a significant number of women who formula feed do so because they are unable to breastfeed--and being unable to breastfeed, or having to exclusively pump, increases your chances of PPD by almost 70%. (Another statistic that's often thrown around by breastfeeding activists is that "only 5% of women truly don't make enough milk," but 5% of the number of women who give birth is still a significant number. That's still thousands of women.) 

When I talk about PPD, it always goes back to my failure to breastfeed. And despite how PPD makes me feel, I logically know that I didn't do anything "bad" to "deserve" not being able to breastfeed or develop PPD--and that those two facts are related when it comes to my improving. 

If anyone reading this is struggling with postpartum depression, or suspects they may have postpartum depression, this is all I can say: it is ok to reach out for help (from your baby's pediatrician, from your doctor, from anyone); it does not make you a bad mom to admit you are depressed; and it does get better, things can improve, you don't have to feel like this. 

Committing to Whole30

I have a few things I don't want to admit to, but I should. Firstly, as I write this, I just finished eating a mug cookie. It's my last one, I swear to you all. Secondly, Danny and I ate an entire bag of Pirate's Booty from Costco in three days. It's the last one we'll ever buy, I swear. Thirdly, while I write about this Whole30 thing, I have a headache from not drinking a soda--which suggests to me, at least, that 30 days without sugar, carbs, or anything processed might be the thing that does me in. 

I'm a carb lover. If I had my way, I would eat entire meals of carbs: toast and pizza and noodles and potatoes and plain bread, honestly. It's actually a little embarrassing how high my carb percentage is on MyFitnessPal at the end of the day. At this point, I have to acknowledge that it's kind of an addiction. I don't need this many carbs, I think as I eat another peanut butter sandwich, and then promptly start imagining making some pasta. 

When I mentioned starting Whole30, one of my friends (shout out to you, Charlotte!) mentioned not becoming one of those "Whole30 people." You know, the annoying ones. 

Whole30 is kind of cultish. If I do it (and it's a big if--I'm sure the minute my first carb craving hits, I'll be scream crying on my office floor), I refuse to pay for it. I don't need to pay money to get emails to tell me not to eat carbs or dairy today. I might try to conveniently "forget", but I'm sure I'll remember eventually. I also don't plan to give up sweeteners like stevia and honey; if I'm going to be giving up my coffee creamer, I deserve to have some freaking stevia to sweeten it. 

If you've never learned about Whole30, here are the basic rules: 

  • For 30 days, you cut all foods that are not whole fruits and vegetables, plant-based fats, and proteins. 
  • Random foods that aren't allowed include "imitation foods" (like banana pancakes), legumes and beans, and sugar of any kind. 
  • Dairy products are also not allowed, including any "imitation" dairy products like homemade creamer or that banana ice cream you see floating around on Pinterest and Instagram. 

A lot of the rules are kind of arbitrary. I will admit the creators sound distinctly Not Very Fun, but who am I to judge? They also admit that the original rules, as presented, are based on their personal beliefs and decisions--and so yeah, it's arbitrary. But in their defense, they're only suggesting you do this for 30 days--not the rest of your life. To me, I just need something to cut the cord between me and delicious, delicious carbs; I just need a hard reset. 

Here are my rules for Whole30: 

  • For 30 days, I will cut all foods that are not whole fruits & vegetables, plant-based fats, and proteins. 
  • I will be allowed to eat imitation foods like banana pancakes as long as they don't include processed ingredients. (In your face, original Whole30 creators!) 
  • I will let myself have stevia and milk for coffee because I have a 10-month-old. 

My official start date is August 1. 

I'm really excited to see how well I do at this--and how I feel after a few days. I'm best at sticking to "diets" (although I'm not thinking of this as a diet--more of as a reset for my life) if I have very strict rules to follow. I'll probably just come up with a menu and eat the same thing each and every day because I'm boring and I like a plan. 

If you'd like to follow my Whole30 journey, you can follow my fitness Instagram @fitforforrest. (And you can always follow my main instagram @michellelocke6!)

Creating a Postpartum Capsule Wardrobe

Whenever I find myself talking about my postpartum body and style, I find myself getting (reasonably) dramatic. "I am a blimp," I have found myself saying to my husband. "I am a planet with a gravitational pull!" I cry to my mom group on Facebook. What is wrong with me? I think privately. Why can't I just diet

It's the question the world seems to pose to pregnant women. When you're pregnant, no matter how big or small you are, the world loves your body: you have another human you're taking care of! Eat the ice cream, the Oreos, the Taco Bell! However, it doesn't take long after birth to realize the cold, hard truth: you are now expected to just go back to normal, as if nothing spectacular happened to your body at all. 

I remember the empty feeling immediately after I had Forrest. And in the six days I spent in the hospital, I found myself feeling like a shell, merely a vehicle for this baby. I felt like the nurses treated me like I was nothing more than a delivery service, my needs and wants were secondary, and I was merely a food source, a fleshy cafeteria. 

This feeling is perpetuated at every turn: your baby is your number 1 priority, but it's also everyone else's. No one wanted to know about how foreign I felt in my own body, about how I ached, about how lonely and sad I felt. No one wants to hear about how I struggle to diet now (because, being an exclusive pumper, I know exactly what my supply is... and when I diet, I can see it shrink, the ounces diminishing); no one wants to hear about how tired I am, too tired to exercise. They just want me to do it and/or stop complaining about my body. 

I used to think that way. Really, I did! I thought new moms were lazy. How can you not have time to exercise? I thought, 22 and not a mom. How can you not focus on what you eatI was a bitch, that's for sure. I'm eating my words now. 

Over the weekend, I decided enough was enough: I was tired of making myself feel bad and I was tired of standing in front of a bulging closet and knowing that nothing fit. I took out every single item that no longer fit and put it in a bag. Part of it made me sad: I find it difficult to say goodbye to things I love, but can no longer wear. That being said, I've decided if it makes me feel bad, I'm not going to deal with it. 

I now have the saddest collection of items in my closet imaginable: four dresses (two maternity maxis); 2 pairs of jeans; 3 pairs of leggings; a smattering of topics (mostly maternity tunics); and sweaters, some of which are a touch too small, but fine for now. 

I decided the thing to do would be to create a capsule wardrobe. 

If I'm going to be starting from scratch, I should probably start from scratch the right way. I still have lots of stuff to clean out (I have drawers full of t-shirts I will never wear), but it's never too early to get started. 

My plan is to invest in pieces to make my body look great now--and rotate them out as I lose weight. As I'm working on my capsule wardrobe, I'll be sharing what I decide to keep and what I decide to buy here. If you'd like to see what I'm pinning along the way, you can follow my Capsule Wardrobe board on Pinterest

All The Things I Wish I'd Known

I wish I'd known how tiring it would be to have a child. Not how hard--I knew raising a child, and taking care of a baby, would be hard work. I knew I would dedicate hours every day to doing things I didn't necessarily want to do. But I wish I'd known how absolutely overwhelmingly exhausted I would become: the kind of exhausted that a good nap or a good nights sleep won't cure. I wish I'd known that my days would start at roughly 4:30am and I would not stop, with a break for myself, until I fell asleep at 9pm that night. 

I wish I'd known that my hobbies would cease to be hobbies, but rather activities that I fondly remembered. I wish I'd known I would have to ask for help, for time for myself. I wish I knew how to ask for it without getting angry. 

I wish I'd known the right things to research. While I scrutinized mattresses and the amount of diapers I would need, I should have read about breast pumps, breastfeeding holds, and nursing pillows. I should have understood how to breastfeed better and maybe I would have been more successful. I wish I'd known that it's not as easy as it seems: there is more than just putting the baby to your chest. I wish I'd known it was ok to not succeed that this particular endeavor, that there are other (just as good) ways to feed a baby. I wish I'd known how to stand up for myself in the hospital better. 

I wish I'd known how all-encompassing a tiny person would be. In my long days of pregnancy, I imagined nap times and nights in the crib. I imagined a world that was completely different from how things ended up. I wish I'd known to stop planning, to stop having expectations for what would happen, what would come next. I wish I'd known that, regardless of where the baby sleeps, my work would never really stop. 

I wish I'd known, earlier rather than later, that no matter what happens, no matter what amount of planning goes in to having a baby, things will always change. The baby will or won't sleep; the baby will or won't eat the way you want them to; the baby will or won't follow the "guidelines" for development. I wish I'd known that babies change their schedules as rapidly and suddenly as everyone else on the planet: they are criminals of spontaneity, making you think one thing and then doing another. I wish I'd known to throw the plans, everything I ever thought about having a baby, out the window. 

Mostly, I wish I'd known to savor more: to stop crying about breastfeeding in those early weeks and, instead, cuddle with my little baby who is now not nearly as little; to let myself co-sleep from the beginning without worrying; and to stop worrying about every little possibility and just allow myself to enjoy the time I had. 

I wish I'd known that being Forrest's mom would be the most challenging, rewarding, demanding, and exhausting thing I've ever experienced--but I wouldn't change it for the world.