The day I brought my own little 8lb 9oz bundle of joy home from the hospital, I was so excited! I was also completely clueless.
NOTHING can prepare you for the joys of motherhood like a straight-up hands-on experience with your OWN baby.
Going into the whole ordeal, I felt like I had it ALL down. I had siblings. I babysat. I KNEW babies. I also was offered tons of seemingly brilliant advice from tons of well-wishing relatives. I read countless articles in magazines while waiting for my visits with my OB. I even moved back home so that my mother could help me.
None of it prepared me.
In fact, despite having four children, I STILL ask myself daily where the manual is. Parenting is all trial and error. You live and you learn. Hopefully you get better along the way.
Each child is a unique individual, with their own little personality ingrained in them right from birth. Some babies are cuddly and need to be held more. Some babies are colicky and cry for no apparent reason. Some babies sleep at night and some babies make you wonder if you will EVER sleep again. Some babies take right to nursing while others take five nursing coaches and a giant tub of Vitamin E oil before they latch on. I have four children, and every one of them was different as a baby.
Each experience in labor and delivery is unique. It doesn't matter what your mother, or aunt, or best friend went through, (Well, it DOES matter, but you know what I mean here, right?) YOUR experience will be your own. Don't listen to other people's "horror stories" because all that will do is scare you. (I will NEVER understand why woman feel the need to share these stories with petrified first timers anyway!) You may have a super easy time even when your own mother did not. I know this is true because MY mom almost died giving birth to me, yet my deliveries were all quick and easy. We each have our own experience based on our body, our pain tolerance, and our own frame of mind.
The bottom line is, each moment of parenting is a moment in your own book; a book that is filled with ups and downs, wrongs and rights, mistakes and masterpieces. You will fill your own book, even if, and despite, you have no clue what you are doing. And you WILL make mistakes along the way. All the advice in the world will not stop you. But you will also learn from those mistakes and become an even better parent because of it.
Don't beat yourself up. Parenting is hard work. It is also the best, most fulfilling job you will ever have.