Over the weekend I attended a wonderful baby shower for a girlfriend of mine. The weather was perfect. Her house was clean. Everything was ready for her little baby girl to enter the world. Guests chatted with the new mom around the outdoor fire pit. “Are you excited?” they asked her. “Are you ready?”
I spent 90 percent of my time telling my own kid not to eat dirt or touch the fire pit. The remaining 10 percent was spent thinking about all of the things I wanted to tell this new mom and immediately convincing myself this was not the time or place to do so. Afterwards, I jotted down a few so I wouldn’t forget to tell her when the time was right:
♦ Labor may not go exactly as planned.
I have thanked the girlfriend who shared this bit of knowledge with me time and time again. When I went to the hospital, I was convinced the baby was going to come any minute only to find out I was in pre-labor and was dilated at a 1. I walked around for an hour until they finally sent me home, only to return the next morning and labor until after 10 PM that night. You might push for 10 minutes and birth a beautiful baby. You might push for three hours only to have them call for an emergency C-section and still deliver a cone-head. Just have the kid.
♦ Buy some of those Always Discreet panties for after labor.
Disposable undies don’t cut it.
♦ Ask questions.
It is all weird and we’ve all been through it and yes, it is probably normal. It’s not just you.
♦ Breastfeeding downright sucks for some of us.
Several weeks in, I finally called on a lactation consultant for support after it seemed too painful to keep going. She was a dream and I cursed myself for not calling her sooner. I breastfed/pumped almost exclusively for seven excruciating months. My son quit cold turkey and I pumped for three more before finally throwing in the towel. There is a whole lot of pressure on a new mom to breastfeed her baby. My advice: just feed your kid.
♦ People will offer to bring you food. Let them.
Then ask for the recipes and return the favor when one of your girlfriends finds herself in your shoes.
♦ Find your tribe of unicorn moms and hold on to them tight.
I thought I found mine and then I realized I didn’t. It was heartbreaking. Then I found my real tribe and they welcomed me with open arms, my potty mouth and all. They are your sounding board, your therapist, your Google, your sisters, and you’d do anything for them at any time – just like they would for you.
♦ Your relationships will change (and that’s OK).
After Z was born, I found myself drifting away from friends who didn’t have kids; we didn’t have as much to relate to anymore. At the same time, I found new friends. You may be angry at your mom. You may love your mother-in-law. Some days you’ll be mad at your partner for no good reason other than they left their napkin in the dirty milk glass (but you’ll love them anyway). Learn to forgive and learn to forget. Pick your battles.
♦ There will be people who tell you you’re doing it wrong. Ignore these people.
♦ Don’t try to do it all yourself.
Ask for help when you need it – and even when you don’t think you do (you do).