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Challenge: Bringing Home Baby: What Do You Wish You’d Known?

Love makes up the rest

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I’m very sure I received nearly all the advice given in the history of ever about motherhood and children in the months leading up to having my first baby. Strangers would hand out seemingly helpful tips and remarks while I waited in line at the grocery store (and no, “whoooaaa, you look like you’re ready to pop; you should get off your feet” was not among the tidbits I considered valuable). My mom, living several states away, would call and remind me to get meals in the freezer, sleep now because I wouldn’t later, and stock up on burp cloths. Sisters, cousins, neighbors, coworkers – they all had experiences and thoughts on the matter. When it comes to having babies everyone is an expert, I found out. Even my 82-year old neighbor, Harold.

I had always wanted to be a mother. My whole life. I had other dreams, too, but if you asked me to write a list, being a mom was right up at the top. Because of that, I supposed that it would come easily and naturally to me. That armed with all the advice I had been given (not to mention the books I had read and excel spreadsheets I had whipped up to accommodate every potential situation in the first couple weeks of my baby’s life), I would rock this.

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But bringing that sweet baby home from the hospital was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Even after having more children, no moment quite compares to that first minute I walked through the front door, home from the hospital, and realized, just like that, I was a mom. And ohmygosh, what was I supposed to do now? The first few weeks were wonderful and amazing. It was like a spot in my heart that had always been there, just waiting, had popped open into a well of love so deep and wide, it felt like it would engulf my entire soul. But having a new baby was also hard. It introduced a lot of vulnerability and tears, and oftentimes, I second guessed everything I was doing and wondered why it wasn’t just a teensy weensy little bit easier. I had listened to all the advice – even welcomed {some} of it. I’d gone so far as to take notes, for heaven’s sake! I thought I had this. But the best advice and tutorials and books in the world couldn’t have prepared me for the reality and responsibility of a precious, new life to care for.

Nailing down just one thing I wish I’d known in those tentative, tender, wonderful, scary first few weeks of having a baby would be impossible, but I do know a few certain truths that maybe would have eased the transition a bit (and that either Harold forgot to tell me or I just managed to forget when I walked through that door of motherhood for the first time):

It’s ok to cry.

Breastfeeding is hard.

Don’t discount the power of your intuition as a mother.

Sitting down for lunch is a thing of the past.

Mom guilt starts early (and should be banished early, too).

The days may feel like years but the years will feel like days.

Nap every chance you get.

And about a million others. The truth is, as unprepared as I felt those first days and weeks – well, it’s all a bit of a blur now (except the sleep deprivation, those memories never die) and it’s amazing and miraculous to me how love and gentleness and devotion and determination can make up for everything I didn't know.

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