When I was pregnant for the first time, I got all sorts of unsolicited advice. I also got several predictions about what motherhood would be like. But what I never got was a full, honest picture about what I was about to go through. So, here now, is what I wish other moms would have told me when I was pregnant for the first time.
1. "I don't know"
So many moms discounted my fears or questions with blanket statements like, "you'll be fine." Or worse, they would tell me, in definite language, what would happen in labor, delivery, postpartum recovery or in motherhood. But the truth is, there are so many variables in every stage of becoming a mother. No one can predict anyone else's journey. The most helpful conversations I had with moms when I was pregnant was simply them telling me their own story, not trying to predict mine. And what I wish they would have added was, "it could be great, it could be terrible, it could be somewhere in between. I just don't know."
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help
The first time through the pregnancy process I was so out of my element. I researched, I watched other moms and I pushed myself to be the best version of "mom" that I could think of. This included maintaining strict eating and exercise habits, home cooking every single meal, keeping a clean house and so on and so forth. The second time around I had nothing to prove and asked for help whenever it was offered, and even when it wasn't. If I could do it over, I would rely on my village as much as possible, lighten my load whenever possible and allow myself to rest and simply adjust to motherhood.
3. Breastfeeding is not a guarantee
I was completely blindsided by the fact that I could not breastfeed my first son. I took birth classes, breastfeeding classes, did a ton of research, talked to other moms, and still no one told me that breastfeeding is a struggle and not all moms are able to do it. In fact, the average American mom only breastfeeds for about four months! I thought I would breastfeed my son at least a year - boy was I wrong. I barely made it three months the first time, and felt like a complete failure. I wish someone would have told me breastfeeding is not a guarantee and it's OK to let it go and give formula if you have to. That advice would have saved me months of guilt, shame and stress.
4. Raising kids is all about phases and stages
People always say about parenting, "enjoy it - it goes by fast!" What they should say, though, is that while the overall process may happen fast, the day to day of mothering happens in phases and stages. This is so useful to know when you're in the thick of a really hard stage like the newborn stage, teething, potty training, etc., because it reminds you that it will be over soon and gives you hope that you can get through it. It's also helpful during the best moments like co-sleeping, crawling, learning to walk, learning to talk, and so on, because it reminds you to savor the moment while you're in it. Before you know it your little one will be on to a new phase or stage and, if you're like me, you'll be struggling to catch up.
If you're pregnant with your first child, let me be the first one to tell you, I don't know what your journey will be like. Maybe it will be hard, maybe it will be scary or maybe it will be beautiful, perfect and easy. Whatever happens to you, I know you can handle it. Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, whether you ask for help or not, you can do this. You're stronger than you think. And remember that each little phase and stage will happen fast so enjoy it, get through it and prepare for the next wave. You got this, mama.