1. The sense of awe over your own biology that accompanies birthing a human and (if you choose to) feeding it from your breast. Women are amazing!!! you think to yourself, understanding that you are not at all the first woman to experience any of this motherhood stuff.
2. The heartwarming realization that you truly are a person capable of ~unconditional love~.
3. The sudden ability to identify with your parents more than you ever thought possible. Is this how mom and dad feel about ME??? you catch yourself wondering more than once.
4. The terrifying realization that the tiny little creature you adore so completely is utterly dependent on you. Yup, you! YOU are now responsible for the livelihood of another human being!!!
5. Which means—Eek!—that you have to act responsibly pretty much always, even when you’re not in the mood to.
6. But you’re actually programmed for this shit! You’ve already developed a sixth sense—a barometer, essentially, for what baby wants and needs at all times, even from a distance.
7. That sixth sense is there, even when it seems to fail because your baby is wailing uncontrollably and you just can’t figure out whyyyyyyyy since their diaper is clean and they’ve just been fed and they don’t appear to be in any immediate danger.
8. Chill as you once were, you walk around feeling hyper aware of all the horrible things that might happen to your little love nugget at any given moment.
9. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t quiet the soundtrack of what-ifs and worst case scenarios now playing on the back of your mind at all times, so you’ll have to find a way to live with it, you realize.
10. As if you don’t have enough to worry about already, what with the (sometimes welcome, sometimes overwhelming) burden of keeping a tiny, vulnerable creature alive minute to minute.
11. This person you’ve created is so full of needs, you now see. And while these needs might change over the years, their needs will always exist. Like it or not, you’re a permanent employee of Parenthood, it seems!
12. But as scary as it is to care for such a needy little thing for all of eternity, you feel incredibly special to be specifically designed to do just that.
13. It’s an honor, in fact, to raise your own child—even on the days when the challenges of motherhood seem boundless and you feel totally ill-equipped to make it through the day, let alone continue on this journey for the rest of your life.
14. Being a mom is your reality now. (As is peeing yourself a little whenever you laugh, cough, or sneeze.)
15. But you can handle it!!! As long as you don’t have to wash your hair all that often, a task that consumes way too much energy and seems so much less necessary these days.
16. Same goes for matching your clothes.
17. Let alone your bra and underwear.
18. And, of course, doing your nails.
19. You’re now immensely grateful for “pockets” of time.
20. You’ve also learned to cherish small victories, like getting your baby down for a nap.
21. Which opens the door to this stumper of a riddle: Whether to use baby’s nap to get a little sleep yourself, or to catch up on Game of Thrones while answering some week old texts???
22. You don’t even bother hoping for one of those long stretches of sleep you once took for granted since you’ve officially relinquished your entire schedule to the tiny human you pushed out of your vagina.
23. Luckily, perpetual sleeplessness is somewhat offset by the hilarious realization that a poo- or pee- soaked diaper, both signs that baby’s digestive system is functioning properly, can be the source of sincere happiness and fulfillment.
24. There are hidden gems of delight peppered throughout this motherhood business, you remind yourself daily!!!
25. So what if there are a few unexpected hurdles along the way, like the longing you’re destined to feel for your pre-baby body whenever you encounter a photo of your pre-pregnancy self.
26. At least you’re so damn busy meeting baby’s needs that you’re destined to forget to eat a meal here and there, which should help you shed some of those stubborn baby weight pounds.
27. You can’t pine for your former bod forever, you tell yourself. But you can pine for the time when multitasking meant managing multiple open tabs on your computer while chatting on the phone. Now, multitasking means cradling your baby and nursing while squatting ever so carefully over the toilet and wiping yourself somehow before grabbing a handful of nuts from the cupboard to munch on as you walk back to the couch, wondering all along how you’re going to find a minute to brush your teeth and clip that hangnail that’s been bugging you for the last several days.
28. Does “me time” even exist anymore??? You ask yourself repeatedly, as if you don’t already know the answer.
29. Basically, everything is more complicated than before—even the simple act of leaving the house to practice self-care, which now elicits paralyzing fear because you have to leave your child in someone else’s care.
30. On the other side of acute panic, however, is the crazy fierce joy you get to experience the second you return home to envelop your baby in your arms after time apart.