You don’t have to do it.
Yes, everyone will tell you it will change your life in amazing ways and show you a type of love you haven’t experienced before. I’m not going to deny that being a parent is a unique experience, but I’m also never going to tell you that you need to do it. Everyone else is already doing that. I want to be the person to say that you don’t have to have a child to be a complete person or woman. You don’t have to have a child to be enough. We’re living in a really special time where we get to choose if we want to become parents or not, and I’m telling you to make a conscious choice.
From pregnancy onward, everything’s gross.
OMG you guys. Pregnancy was gross. Thinking about the fact that my body had a little foreign object in it was gross to me. The little kicks were half adorable and half gross. Also my feet got swollen and I puked a lot and I had a hard time maintaining basic self care like shaving. Birth is pretty gross. There are a lot of bodily fluids and a lot of people up in you – literally – in ways you did not realize. After the baby comes out, there’s a placenta too. And after that, they massage your belly to help your uterus shrink back to size. And just when you thought the gross stuff was over, your kid literally throws up on you daily (ok, you’re right – it’s multiple times a day). And the crazy part? You don’t change your clothes after it happens every time. And then your kid poops with such force it comes out of their diaper, up their back, into their hair. Each new stage your kid reaches brings new discoveries of how gross human beings really are.
It isn’t always as easy as just deciding to have a baby.
Infertility and miscarriages are really common, especially (or at least it seems like it) in our generation. More of my friends had miscarriages than didn’t. More of my friends took 3+ months to get pregnant than had success right away. The good news is that if you want to become a parent, you can, one way or another.
And on that note, let go of your attachment to plans.
Every parent you know can make a list longer than their arm of all the parenting related plans they had that failed. Sure, you need to know some basics like how you’re going to pay for this baby (and their college education, I know right) and generally how you’d like to approach things. But from going without the epidural to never letting your child play with your phone in a restaurant, your plans just might change. You are going to get new information (like.. wow contractions don’t actually feel like a tight hug or my desire to stay at this restaurant is stronger than my plan) once you’re in that stage. New information will help you develop new plans.
The first few weeks with a newborn are incredibly hard.
You’ve just been through some bodily trauma, you are getting woken up hourly around the clock, and you are on the hormonal rollercoaster ride of your life. Things just aren’t easy. If you’re like me, maybe you pictured the first few weeks to be an idyllic love fest of your new little family – and it sort of is – but it is also isolating, overwhelming, tiring on a level I promise you’ve not felt before, and you may find yourself crying a lot for reasons like “my mother in law is holding my baby” or “the sun is setting.”
It gets easier but also harder.
That really hard early stage passes and you start to get a hang of this mom thing. Your body recovers too – albeit to a new normal. You’re cruising along totally rocking it, then a new stage comes that you have to figure out and adjust to. This continues to happen through that first year. (And those next 18 years.) Eventually you hit a point where you can’t totally protect your baby anymore because they have realized they are an autonomous person! They do stuff you told them not to do. They lie. They break your favorite stuff. They come home and have somehow learned about sex or the s word on the elementary playground at the school you carefully picked for them because you thought it would keep them sheltered. Then they become teenagers you guys – this happens to babies eventually – or so I’m told. They do teenager stuff. They tell you they are at Madison’s house when they’re actually partying with Aiden at a hotel and get in car accidents and drink beer. This is definitely going to get harder.
You have to choose to have fun.
I know way too many parents who don’t have fun. Don’t do that. You have to choose to have fun and have a good attitude. To laugh when things are hard instead of losing your mind. To have a spontaneous camping trip, family game night, or dessert for dinner. To find ways to have fun with your kids. To have fun with your partner still, even when you’re annoyed and tired. To not take stupid stuff seriously.
You can do it.
I see you, totally freaking out that you can’t do this – even though you want to. You can. Remember all those other times you have risen to a challenge that felt impossible? You can do this. You’re going to read a bunch of parenting books (most are BS), trust your intuition, talk to people who have done all of this before you, and then you’re going to do the best you can. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes like we all do, but you’re going to do it and you’re going to be great.