Before I was a parent, I was the perfect one. People told me my life would change. People told me I would be tired. That parenthood would be the greatest and hardest thing I would ever do.
Yeah yeah yeah. I know. I know. I knew everything.
My family would just smile and nod at my ignorance, and I wonder now if they were scared for me.
I recently sat in a friend's baby shower. I was surrounded by women making light-hearted jokes about new parenthood, about sleep deprivation, and pregnancy cravings. They exchanged recommendations for swaddle blankets and butt creams. Underneath the small talk and "oohing" and "ahhing" over tiny gifted baby clothes, sat the realness, the hardness of motherhood. I could feel that every mom in the room, behind their sleepless sunken eyes, knew what that meant; they had felt that weight, but they only had the heart to give gifts and hugs and congratulations. I sat there in silence, when all I wanted to do was talk and talk and talk about how new motherhood really can be. To let her in on all the real secrets of being a mother.
I wanted so badly to prepare my friend somehow for the wave that was about to wash over her.
I was there too, belly rounded with life, yesterday. I had the iPhone app, the "Welcome Baby" books, the nursery that I had pinned on my Pinterest. I had the trendy pacifiers, the over packed hospital bag, the pretty dresses my girl would probably never wear. We toured the hospital. I googled birth stories while rounding my hips on a yoga ball. And I learned all about how you breath a baby out of your lady parts.
I remember eating whole pineapples, and choking down giant Evening Primrose Oil pills by the handful to will my baby out of my uterus.
I was ready.
It took what felt like seven years for her to arrive. More specifically, 41 weeks and 1 day. That extra eight days made me extra prepared. I remember sitting, ecstatic, in the hospital, after the epidural had been administered. I was too giddy to sleep.
Oh, the time had finally come, and I was so ready.
Then in a blink, she was here. She was tiny and marveling. She was so incredibly beautiful. She was perfect.
But wait. I am not ready. This is so hard. I am so tired. Why hadn't anyone prepared me for this?
I. Know. Nothing.
If I was sitting across from that very pregnant, very eager and naive version of myself, I would tell her this:
The love you will feel is nothing like you have felt before. It will be foreign and familiar all at once. It will fill you to the very top of your heart, nearly spilling over. The thing about this kind of love, though, is that it can feel heavy. Disproportional. You may feel like you will nearly break in half from the top-heaviness. You will not be able to tell the difference between exhaustion and depression, and that darkness will rob you from what should be the most tender months of your daughter's new life.
Your baby will cry, a lot. Your days will both begin and end with the saddest screams you will ever hear. Your body will respond the way that it is programmed to - with panic. You will google everything from "dissecting baby poo" to "newborn who hates life." And you will come up short. You will always come up short.