What They Didn't Tell Me About Being a Mom
When I was pregnant with our first daughter, I was terrified. I'd be lying if I said I was excited. It was all new (and rather unexpected) territory for me and so I started reading articles I found on Google and watching movies like What to Expect When You're Expecting. Expert advice, I know. But, we survived and we got through it and have the most amazing 2-and-a-half year old. We thought out family was complete. Then we found out we were pregnant again! And truly, we were thrilled. A family of 4 made sense for us and we couldn't be happier.
After we announced our pregnancy, I started getting all sorts of advice and "words of wisdom" - good, bad, weird... and wildly unsolicited. All I heard for months was how my hands would be so full with a toddler and infant. I got advice on how to lose the baby weight - since it's "so much harder the second time around." Warnings about how I would never get a moment to myself again. And these warnings came from everywhere - from standing in line at Target, social media, and even my own family members.
Going into it, I was able to enjoy this pregnancy much more this time, but felt my joy was being stolen by this unwanted advice and warnings from perfect strangers. I was told how grateful I should be, how lucky we are to have a healthy pregnancy, and how the few complaints I had were petty and that my life was about to get much more complicated. How my little "me time" moments weren't important and how my life needed to solely focus on raising children.
But it's what they didn't tell me that taught me the most
about having children.
They didn't tell me that no matter how long I was in labor, that time would stop the moment my baby girl was placed in my arms for the first time, and that my heart would grow exponentially to love both of my daughters infinitely. That I would feel more love in my body than I ever thought was imaginable.
They didn't tell me to stock up on waterproof mascara and tissues, because I would cry uncontrollably - but they'd be tears of sheer happiness and joy and overwhelming love (and obsession) for my babies. Tears would come at any and all times during the day just from looking at our beautiful new baby and her older sister. Tears would pour from my eyes when I would think about how much I loved two little girls.
They should have warned me that my respect and love for my husband would surpass any emotion I had ever felt before. Watching him be a father to one little girl blew my mind every single day. But watching him with 2 little girls would forever change the way I see him. That we would have challenges, arguments, and bicker like there's no tomorrow, but at the end of the day, see eye-to-eye on how we would raise our little girls. That he would go to the moon and back to make sure we were forever taken care of. That he would drive me crazy making sure I was eating enough and drinking enough so I had energy and stamina to keep up with the girls. That he would make my favorite food and surprise me with my favorite snacks because I was constantly starving. And that hearing him soothe our new baby would make my heart melt.
I should have been warned that breastfeeding would be my biggest struggle. That there would be highs and lows. That I would feel empowered and needed one minute, and defeated and not enough the next. I should have been warned that just because my oldest couldn't be breastfed, that my youngest would be breastfed and my supply would be more than enough for her to feel full and thrive. I wish I had been warned that I would stand in the hot shower with tears streaming down my face, in excruciating pain from engorgement. That I would power through it with help from my friends. That formula is just as good at nourishing a baby as breastmilk. That as long as your baby is thriving and healthy, that's all that matters. That I should never feel guilty about how I choose feed my baby, as long as she is fed.
They didn't tell me that I should cherish all the middle of the night feedings because they wouldn't last for long, and the cuddles would be scarce once the baby starts to move on their own. They didn't tell me that a dimly lit room, a squeaky rocking chair, and a baby sleeping on my chest would my happy place. That I would start to worry every time that one of them fell asleep on me, that it would be the last time. And that when they lose the "newborn baby scent," I would feel sad and heartbroken. And they didn't tell me that the second time would be even more special because I get to have those feelings all over again.
They didn't tell me that I would feel more pride for milestones than my own accomplishments. That I would gladly miss deadlines and put off work for hours so I could help my baby learn to eat with a fork or spoon by herself. And that I would change my baby's outfit 5 times during one day if it meant she was one step closer to feeding herself or holding a sippy cup on their own. That I would cheer when her poop transitioned from infant poop to "regular" poop.
I should have been warned that not focusing on my own career and own self wouldn't matter because as long as my little girls were happy, learning and healthy, because that's all I would care about. I should have been warned that I would go days without showering, nights without sleep, and days without a real meal and that I wouldn't care or even notice. That I would heat up my coffee all day and still not have time to drink it.
The most important things I learned from having kids are not the warnings I received, the constant struggles we endure, or relief from any of the other hesitations we ever had about becoming parents. But we learned how to love beyond our wildest dreams. We learned how to become role models. We learned how to teach our daughters what is really important in life. We learned how to become a unified team. We learned to love each other deeper than ever imaginable.
But most of all... that all the "little" things are really the big things.