Someone near and dear to me is considering trying to have a baby. She’s 22. And I don’t know if she is ready. It isn’t up to me, obviously, but I wonder if she knows the things that I wish I knew before I became a mom.
So, I thought I would say this. To all of the moms-to-be. There are some things that I think you should know. These are things that I wish someone had told me.
Your life will never be the same. Okay, well, some did tell me that part. But really. Everyone knows about the morning sickness. The weight gain and the strange cravings. The stretch marks and the moodiness. But did you know this?
At first, you’ll decorate the nursery and think about all the beautiful names to call baby. You’ll daydream about the miracle of birth in just the perfect scene. All ready and prepared.
But did you know that you could have gestational diabetes? Or pre-eclampsia. Or a baby with a congenital defect. Or have HELLP Syndrome and need a blood transfusion like I did. Because I could have died.
Then when it’s time to have the baby, sometimes all of those things you read about and practiced in childbirth class go out the window. Because baby could come early. And you might not get that epidural. Or maybe something will cause an emergency c-section.
And I am here to tell you that I’d push ten more babies out of my vagina before I would want to go through a c-section again. I am serious. C-sections are no joke. That is definitely not the easy way. Wait, did you know that there is NO easy way?
No one tells you that you will lose yourself. At least for a while. Or that you will change your identity forever. You won’t remember what it is that you thought was so important before. You look into those eyes of a being you created. And you suddenly see that you are completely responsible for a little helpless being. It scares you.
You will never feel so alone. But you need help. More help than you know. So let people help you. None of us get through this alone.
You will never feel so crowded. You will want to escape. To be alone somewhere without the baby. Without the crying and neediness. But you’ll feel so guilty. Guilty because you want to get away from your baby, but you know she needs you.
If you go back to work, no one is going to be good enough to take care of your baby. No one. Not even your partner. Not even your mom. Definitely not someone you have to pay to take care of little one.
You won’t be able to do as well at your job. You will be wondering what baby is doing every second. And sometimes it makes you mess up. And you will wonder if you did the right thing by having a baby. And going back to work. And you’ll feel guilty some more.
What about disappointments? Dear moms-to-be, have you thought about those?
It starts small. You think that baby will sleep through the night sooner than it really happens. Or you might think you will be able to breastfeed and it doesn’t work out.
Baby is going to grow into toddler. And suddenly, those things you said to people before you had baby are lies. You thought you’d never give in to a tantrum, but it happens. After you’ve worked a double shift and you’re so tired that you can’t think straight. You let junior get the candy at the store just for that few minutes of peace.
You’re going to be sorry you ever sent a scornful eye to the mom in the grocery store. Or maybe the restaurant.
You’ll learn that maybe the brat you saw screaming at his mom is autistic. Or has oppositional defiant disorder. And mom is doing everything she can.
You’ll realize that could happen to you. What if something is wrong with your baby? Baby can get sick. Like cancer. Or have a brain malformation.
You’ll know about more dangers in the world. Like your baby could be hurt by someone else. And experience trauma. And become scared.
What about school? You thought your child could do nothing wrong. Just when you think your baby is going to be smart and well behaved, you’re called in for a conference with the teacher. You find out that junior can’t sit still. Or maybe princess doesn’t know her letters yet. And she hits the boy beside her at lunch everyday.
You thought your baby would grow up to be pretty and have lots of friends. Maybe she isn’t. Maybe he doesn’t. And you’ll wonder why. And what can you do to fix it. And what you did wrong. Because you see baby hurting and you don’t know how to fix it.
Moms-to-be, did anyone tell you that you’d be disappointed? Maybe baby doesn’t make the soccer team. Maybe she really can’t sing. Or maybe she can! Did you know how exhausting and expensive that will be? Will you send her to Europe when she makes it after that audition?
Will you know when baby needs help? I mean really needs help? Like from a therapist or a doctor? What if your baby grows up to be weird? And all of the moms you thought were your friends stop talking to you. They look at you like you’ve failed somewhere.
Did you dream about the future as a mom? Like far into the future? Baby is going to be a doctor? Or maybe a famous actor? But what happens when they want to drop out of high school? Or if she becomes pregnant and doesn’t graduate?
What if he doesn’t want to go to college? And he tests every ounce of your patience? What if she is your best friend and it hurts to know that you’ll have to let her go one day?
Do you know that baby will have a broken heart one day? What will you do then? Did you know that you can’t fix it? Do you know what you will say? What if your heart is hurting too?
What happens when they grow up? And they don’t come around or tell you they love you? Did anyone tell you that can happen? Do you know that you will have times when you don’t know if they are okay? And there is nothing you can do?
When you have a baby, mom-to-be, your life is no longer your own. You will feel like someone stuck their hand into your chest and took your heart out. Stomped it on the ground and handed it back to you. And you won’t know how to put it back like it was. Ever.
You will become resentful sometimes.
You will be so proud sometimes.
You will worry more than you thought possible.
You will hurt sometimes. Like you’ve never hurt before.
You will have a joy that nothing else brings. And it is worth every ounce of pain.
But you know else? No matter who your baby grows up to be, you will love them. And your life will never be the same.