I can remember the very second I found out I was pregnant. Scratch that. The moment I got a positive pregnancy test. At the time I wasn’t sure. I was excited, but emotionally I was numb. I was ready, but not really ready. I needed another month. I needed time! The thought of even putting the words “I’m pregnant” in a sentence and the subject of discussion wasn’t someone else terrified me. For the next 39.5 weeks, I would be a ball of unsure emotions, much like the ones I had on August 1, 2014.
Now that I’m planning Laila’s 2nd birthday party, I definitely have a better perspective on things. I understand the importance of focusing on what matters. I can approach this gift of motherhood with a clearer head. Sometimes I look back on my experience and wish I could give myself the advice I know now.
Here’s what I would tell her.
Life is beautiful, but it’s not yours. You control NOTHING. Nothing about being pregnant is easy, nor is it a cake walk. Your body is going to change. Change with it. Everything will be okay. Gaining weight is normal. Eating what you normally wouldn’t take a second glance at is normal. Believe it or not: pregnancy is the time to relax and stop being so hard on yourself.
You’re allowed to feel.
Although it’s great to talk to mothers who have “been there and done that”, you’re allowed to feel the anxiousness and uncertainty at times. Even the most seasoned mother worries about her children, in utero and way after the 4th trimester. Don’t let anyone make you feel like those very real feelings are stupid. If you’re not reassured, get it for your peace of mind! You’re carrying the baby. Not them!
You are equipped with everything you need to be a great mother!
When they say your maternal instincts kick in, it’s true! When things get real at 3am and your baby is screaming, you figure it out. You’ll have numbers to call, whether it’s to your doctor, your mom, or a trusted source to help. But even with all that, you still have everything you need! Don’t doubt your strength.
Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to focus on yourself.
You’re a new mom. You still have to be a wife. You still have to clean. You still have to cook. Laundry…oh, the laundry. And even after all that, still find the time for “self care” when remembering to brush your teeth is a victory. You are ALLOWED to take some time out for yourself. Not only is it important, but your body, mind, spirit, sanity and family will thank you. If your hubby has no clue what to do, send him a list of instructions, make sure the baby is fed before you leave, make sure there are extra bottles on hand and walk out the door! Go! Don’t wait until you have a breakdown to realize you need to get out! You don’t need any permission.
It’s scary, girl. But be encouraged.
There are days you will feel like crying in a corner. There are many moments where you will question yourself. You will Google your life away simply because your child had milk coming out of his/her nose while feeding. Watching them scream like they’re dying getting shots for the first time makes you want to check into a mental ward. But let me tell you something: be encouraged when times get scary. None of us know it all nor do we all know what to do. This promotion didn’t come with an on-boarding course that truly gave you a representation of your situation. It’s learning on-the-job. It’s so scary, but you can do it!
Surround yourself with a great group of Mamas who “get it”
Women have been having babies for centuries so there is nothing like having the companionship of a woman who understand and “gets” your life. Having a circle of moms around you who you talk to, bounce ideas off of, or even just cry to is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself. Because as a mother, you want to talk to people who understand you as a person, you as a mother, your personal situation and not judge you. It’s going to be hard trying to explain your life to someone who doesn’t have children yet. Sorry. May sound harsh, but find some mamas to surround yourself with. They will be one of the strongest support systems you’ll ever have.