Whether you’ve read all the books about motherhood or you’ve only prepared for the birth only to think “Oh, shit!” once the baby comes along, early motherhood will surprise you.
Many of us go into motherhood with the fear of the unknown, but even if you don’t and you’ve got a cast iron will, there’s likely something that will dismantle the motherhood you thought you knew.
What are some of the things that no one can possibly prepare you for?
1. The birth will not go to plan.
That’s not to say it won’t be an exhilarating or empowering experience, but there’s only so much we can plan. There may be ways to prepare yourself and your loved ones for the birth, but every birth is different and there is such a process of surrender that a mother must go through to allow trust in herself and her birthing team to bring baby into the world. Oh, and then there’s being a mum… that’s kind of a big deal.
2. You actually made a human. You made a HUMAN! …who cries… a LOT!
It’s a shock to the system to get pregnant. Nothing can possibly prepare you for the fact that there’s a tiny human being living in your body, and once they grace the world with the biggest SCREAMS you’ve ever heard, you’ll quite possibly be in shock for a bit. It’s surreal, it’s something you’ve imagined for potentially years, but nothing compares to life on the outside.
3. Breastfeeding/feeding is a 24/7 ordeal… it’s bloody demanding
Can anyone truly prepare you for how demanding it is to care for an infant? I don’t think any amount of nursing or nannying can prepare you for caring for your own human all the time. All. The. Time.
4. Sleep is such a divine gift that you’ll spend most of your days trying to teach an infant that fact
Two words: Sleep Deprivation. Don’t let anyone mention the two words when you’re deprived of the elixir of life (sleep). If you are, find someone who can give you the gift of z’s, at least for a few decades to make up for lost time with the sandman. No, but seriously, if anyone can help you sleep in those early days/months/years, you’ll love them forever.
5. It will calm down (even though storms will come again too)
It is so incredibly annoying (yet so incredibly lovely) when other mothers tell you: It gets better. It truly fucking gets better. Storms will come and go, but the more you get help and learn, the better it can be.
6. Being a caring person makes the transition into motherhood difficult
You wouldn’t think so, right!? Caring person = nurturing mother, sure. But early motherhood is when the fourth trimester kicks in and mums need just as much nurturing and love as baby does. Mums emotions could be even more turbulent than their babies and she need her tribe more than ever. The baby may be fine, but we’ve got to look after mum even more.
7. Asking for help is hard, accepting it is excruciating, so we need to reach in when a mum cannot reach out
Asking for help takes courage sometimes. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to do, so it’s essential that loved ones reach in because we can’t always wait for a mum (or dad) to reach out. We’ve got to look out for each other.
8. Perinatal anxiety and depression are important for both parents
Mental illness does not discriminate. Even if you had the most positive mindset, perfect birth or transition to early motherhood, things could get wobbly and it’s important that we stay real and get help. Help is out there, if the right people are listening and if we are honest. We can do this together.
9. Accepting help is the bees knees once you learn how to
People want to help, no, love to help. Let them.
10. Like the saying goes, it does take a village to raise a child
This one gets passed around the traps, but it’s true. Unfortunately, the village doesn’t exist like it used to. Or is that just me being nostalgic and confused? Whether we have new or improved luxuries “these days,” it’s not worth pretending that raising a baby in this era isn’t tough without a village. We need to share the load. Gather your people. Let them in, prior to motherhood.
11. In spite of that, motherhood is not the hardest job in the world
Motherhood may not be always be peachy, but it is not a job. It might be one of the most demanding, challenging, exhausting, incredible, time-consuming, and important things you’ll ever do, but there’s no leave, silly! Heh.
And a bonus lesson…
Your life will not be forever changed. It will just be different. Most likely in some of the most incredibly beautiful ways you’ve never imagined. Seeing that little face smiling back at you is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world; one most of us wish we could bottle up forever. It all happens “just in time.” Mums have an incredible ability to adapt because love conquers all.