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October 20, 2018

5 Things I Wish People Told Me Before I Had a Baby

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I remember hearing lots of things – mostly negative – all about what was about to happen to me when I brought that new life home with me. I would never sleep again. I would have bleeding nipples. My sex life would evaporate. The list goes on and on, and most of the things I was told were the opposite of helpful.

If I could go back in time and change things around, these are the things I wish I would have been told when I was about to have my first baby.

  1. You’re stronger than you realize.For every comment I got about how childbirth would destroy my body, I wish I would have been told that my body and mind are capable of doing amazing things that I couldn’t even dream of. When you grow, birth, and sustain a new baby, you are pushed to the end of your limits and beyond. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s scary. But instead of drowning in fear of the unknown, or anxiety about whether or not you can do this, know that not only CAN you do this, but you can also do SO MUCH MORE than this. And it will blow your mind.
  2. It’s okay to prioritize self-care.I remember in the first harrowing weeks of motherhood, I felt so guilty if I took a nap or a shower or (gasp) brushed my hair before I tended to my new baby. Not only is it okay to take care of yourself, but it’s preferred. You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you assist those around you. Your new baby needs YOU to be taken care of so that he or she can be fully cared for as well.
  3. It’s okay to ask for help.I don’t know when it became the standard to assume that new parents are supposed to be superheroes, but I want to squash that right now. When your previously normal life is suddenly dominated by a tiny, adorable, demanding human, you can (and should) ask for help. Ask your friends to put together a meal train. Ask your parents to come stay for a few days and wash and fold some laundry. Reach out. Be honest. Get help. And be comforted by the fact that most people (I’d say ALL but, you never know) are delighted to be of assistance to new parents.
  4. You’re the parent – you get the final say. Your baby is not your mom’s baby. It is not your friend’s baby. It is not even your pediatrician’s baby. Your baby is YOUR baby. And YOU get the final say on how to care for your baby. Just because your high school bestie swore by all-organic clothes, or just because your mother-in-law thinks you should use a pacifier, doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. You get the final say with your kids. Be confident; you know what’s best.
  5. It’s all going to be okay.Full disclosure, this one comes from my husband, who has had to be the comforter to my parental anxiety for the past five years. The truth is that you’re going to have hard days. You’re going to have great days. You’re going to have in-between and so-so days. But in the end, it’s all going to be okay. You can do this. If I can, you can.

If you are pregnant with your first baby, I hope this gives you a little bit of hope. If you’ve had babies before, what would you add to this list?

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