First off, let me say CONGRATULATIONS on starting the most epic adventure you will ever embark on! Being a mother is, without a doubt, the most exciting, terrifying, rewarding, awe-inspiring, exhausting-yet-energizing lifetime commitment you will ever make. I promise you that you will have days that will leave you weeping in wonder and amazement, and days that will have you sobbing in terror and frustration. Sometimes that could all happen in the same day. I wanted to take a moment to share with you a few things that I have learned in my (albeit brief) time as a mother.
My journey into motherhood was not all smooth sailing. In fact, it came as quite a rude awakening in some aspects. I understood that my life was about to change irrevocably and that I would never be the same again. I tried to prepare myself for the unknown as best I could. What I could not foresee or prepare for was the veritable minefield of thoughts and opinions about motherhood that I was about to start navigating.
The moment people find out you are expecting, it seems as if they feel it their responsibility to pepper you with (sometimes inappropriate) questions and then to solicit their own advice, whether it was asked for or not. As if it is not daunting enough to become a first-time-mom, suddenly you are thrown into a frenzy of decisions you had no idea you needed to make – and heaven forbid you make a decision that does not sit well with someone else! I mean, it’s not as if you have the right to decide what you believe will be best for you and your baby, right?
Today we have so much information available, and so many different opinions on what the best practices are for giving birth and raising kids, that it is impossible to listen to everyone. So here is what I have learned:
Silence the voices.
Stop for a moment.
Take a breath.
Realise the beauty of the miracle that is happening to you.
Now, remember that you have a choice – YOUR choice on how you want your baby to come into the world and grow up. You are about to be a parent, and your baby will be your responsibility to raise in the best way you are able. When they are grown up, people will look to you as the parent and either commend or condemn you for how they turned out, regardless of whose advice you chose to follow.
So, whether you choose to be a silky, crunchy or scrunchy mama – it is YOUR decision. Whether you decide to have your baby in a hospital or at home, with an OBGYN or a midwife/doula, whether you decide to vaccinate or not, whether you breast- or bottle-feed, whether you co-sleep or not… and any of the hundreds of other decisions you will be making on a daily basis, let the decisions be yours. Do your own research. Trust your instincts. Don’t be bullied into doing something you are not comfortable with. Remember – your baby will look to you and only you. Your baby will love you and rely on you to make the best decisions for him or her. And guess what? You can do it! Above everything else, enjoy the journey. It is one of a kind, and you don’t get to go back and try again, so savour every moment. The landscape changes in the blink of an eye, and you really don’t want to miss any of it because you were distracted.
If your baby is still on the way – stroke the joyful bump of the promise of what is coming; if your baby is newly arrived, take a moment of face-to-face time to appreciate this little miracle; if your baby is not a baby anymore, give them a kiss and a cuddle; and then remember to go easy on yourself. You are doing your best, and you are doing great! Even when it feels like you are lost and have no idea what you are doing – take a breath, have a cry, pick yourself up…. You are amazing! I know it. Your baby knows it. And in the end, that is all that really matters.