No less than 7 of my friends and acquaintances announced their pregnancies over the week of Christmas. As I look back wistfully at my pregnancy (and the fast-approaching end of my maternity leave), there are some things I wish I'd known about what was about to happen to me and my life. I survived the first 3 months of Forrest's life. That's a pretty big achievement. Here's what I've learned:
1. The baby is either going to sleep or it won't. Don't sweat it.
"My baby wakes up every 2 hours. Help!"
"My baby has been sleeping for 5 hours, at what point should I call 911?"
Every baby is different. Some will sleep, some won't. Some will want to eat and play every two hours. Some will be out for 6-8 at night from the beginning. And, at any moment, this could change. A typical every-two-hours baby will suddenly sleep through the night. And those magic babies that people brag about will suddenly start waking up every two hours. Because, here's the thing, babies like to keep you on your toes. Nothing is permanent. Nothing.
2. You don't need the fanciest stroller or car seat or whatever.
There is a major dick-measuring group of mommies out there who love their strollers and want to tell you all about how spending $1,000 on a piece of plastic is soooo much better than the cheaper options. Ignore these people (and please don't become one). Get the Graco or Chicco or whatever set that is in your price range. It's just as safe as the others. Really. As long as you install it properly. The stroller will be just as confusing to unfold in the rain in the Target parking lot. The baby won't know, nor will the baby judge you for it. Because undoubtedly, no matter what stroller and car seat you use, the baby will inevitably scream through the entire store in it.
3. "I will never..." are words that you will eat.
"I will never co-sleep!" I crowed, repeatedly, while pregnant. I swore up and down. Forrest sleeps, happily, next to me every single night. I set lots of rules for myself: walks in the park, grocery shopping, keeping the house clean, scheduling naps. I have yet to keep a single promise I made to myself while pregnant. Things change. The baby you end up giving birth to will never be the one you planned to have. That's ok! Do whatever it takes and don't feel bad about it.
4. Feed the baby.
Just feed the baby. Stop stressing about breastfeeding if it's hard. It's ok to supplement. It's ok to go to formula. It doesn't make you a failure or a bad mom. And if breastfeeding is going great, that's awesome--but it doesn't make you better than anyone else. We're all just feeding babies here. Just feed the baby. Resist the urge to smack the Target cashier who sneers when you buy formula, or more nipple pads, or rice cereal. It's your baby. Feed it.
5. Stop Google-ing everything.
I have Googled baby poop, eye pictures, ear pictures, and rib cages. I have frantically, usually while rocking Forrest, read the same 4 pages of links regarding sleep training over and over again. I have repeatedly Googled how to sleep train without resorting to CIO and Ferbering. I have typed, in all caps no less, "MY BABY WON'T GO TO SLEEP AHHHH" into Google at least three times. Resist the urge. Stop using Google. Expel it from your mind. You'll only drive yourself crazy.
Instead, call the pediatrician. It's ok to drive them a little crazy with your crazy.
6. You will miss being pregnant.
I hated being pregnant. Capital H, HATED, pregnancy. And yet, about two weeks after Forrest was born, I started missing it. I found myself thinking wistfully of the nights I could feel him kicking as I fell asleep. It is a strange phenomena to immediately miss the state you couldn't wait to escape, but there it is. You will miss being pregnant, you will miss your little human being a part of you, you will miss being able to keep them 100% safe inside of you. It's ok. Just don't get pregnant again right away, for the love of God.
7. Find a good group of moms.
Find a mom group to join on Facebook. I have an October due date group on Facebook and I spend 90% of my time there. Danny is probably tired of hearing about them. In most conversations, I say, "In my October due date group on Facebook..." at least four times. I can't help it. I get all my advice from them. They answer all my questions. We complain about our babies and husbands and dogs and houses in the privacy of the group. Find a small group to join. Don't start fights. Avoid talking about vaccinations. Be nice to them.
8. Whatever you feel, it's ok.
You will have a moment where you wonder why you thought you do this. You will have a moment where you wonder what you're doing, if you should just wait until your husband and baby are asleep and quietly pack up and leave. You will have moments where you wish with everything in you that someone would just show up and take the baby for an hour, two hours, a week maybe. It's ok. We've been there.
9. If you have anything you particularly enjoy doing, you probably won't do it for a while.
Case in point, I've been writing this blog post since October 25. I'm not kidding. I have only finished books because my 11+ lb baby pins me down for every nap. Forget cooking elaborate meals, washing your bedding, doing your hair the way you like it, or wearing anything dry clean only.
10. You'll be really, really happy (even when you aren't).
Taking on motherhood is one of the biggest challenges of our lives. It's amazing what we can do! It's also downright catastrophic in terms of how it completely alters your life and nothing can really prepare you for it. But even when you're awake at 2am and super cranky about it... you'll be happier than you've ever been. I promise.