I am writing this because I was once where you are now and I would have wanted to hear what I’m about to say. I don’t presume to have all the answers, but what I do have is a love for mothers and babies and a sense that birth itself is bigger than we know.
First of all, congratulations on creating a little human being, one who is going to come into this world in one way or another. Whichever way baby arrives, he or she will be born and you will be a mother and will have created and given birth to a new life. No one can minimize this, it is a huge deal and you are worthy of recognition!
Perhaps you already know how you plan to give birth, perhaps you have tried not to think about it and are hoping that someone else will make it happen. Whatever your wishes are surrounding your birth, I would like to give you a little piece of advice (and I know that there is “advice” coming at you from all angles right now, so please just bear with me). Choosing a care giver who makes you feel safe, respected and a part of this process, will probably be the most important step you will take in welcoming your baby into this world. There is a quote that has proved itself to be true in almost every encounter I have had with mothers young and old:
“A woman, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth.” Anna Verwaal.
Choose someone to care for you who is going to make you feel like you matter!
Once that baby is in your arms, your world will never be the same again. Everything you thought you knew about being a parent and having a newborn will melt away and you will learn how to be stretched to your limit in every way. This is not something to fear – it will make you strong and perhaps help you to appreciate your own parents a little more.
The baby blues will come and go. If they tend to come more than they go, speak to someone who knows about these things. You are not alone and you don’t have to feel that way.
If you choose to breastfeed, you might face challenges, so don’t wait until the baby is born to build yourself a support network! I can tell you from experience that searching for your local La Leche League’s contact info after three days of no sleep is not as easy as you might think! If you have access to a lactation consultant, take advantage of this!!
If you have a partner, you might find that having a baby together will bring you closer than ever. Often though, in the throes of sleep deprivation and the stress of a major life adjustment, the seeds of resentment are planted. Work on your relationship even if it saps the last bit of energy you have. Talk to each other, be honest, don’t throw darts. Love is what brought you here, don’t forget that.
You are going to feel guilty for things that are beyond your control. Realize what you are capable of changing and let the rest be. Thank the nosey advice givers for their advice and then do whatever you were going to do anyway. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
I am so excited for you, motherhood is more rewarding than I have words to describe, but there is one more thing I have to say before I go…Sleep when the baby sleeps!
The mother who learned the hard way.