This list is compiled from my personal experience but I think a lot of mamas can relate. These are some things I wish I'd known yet could never really have prepared for. Forewarning: I tell it like it is. Here it goes:
1. There are more fluids than anyone ever told you about, I'm serious. Blood, sweat, tears, breast milk, snot, fecal matter. There. I said it. Gross right?! Your welcome.
2. You will likely feel more love than you ever thought possible, like the highest high that can bring you to tears in a second (tears: see #1, fluids I tell ya).
3. The thought of being sent home from the hospital/birthing center/wherever with this tiny fragile human may terrify you! Where is the manual... why is there no manual?!
4. Trust your mama intuition or that "gut feeling". See #3, no manual. This means we must rely on our instincts, those primitive feelings that are hard-wired into us—how cool, am I right?!
5. Your relatives and friends are going to give you more unsolicited advice than you ever thought possible. Know they usually mean well. Hang on to only the tidbits you think you might find helpful and ignore the rest of it—what worked for them may not be for you.
6. Get help with meals. Accept any and all donations of food. Ask for help in this arena if you need it. People love to help parents of newborns, this is an awesome way for them to do so.
7. Stay hydrated. If you're lucky you'll get to nourish your newborn with your own milk, I found it requires LOTS of hydration to supply enough booby milk for your babe and also keep yourself hydrated and functioning well (or as well as any new mom can).
8. Sleep. Yeah, yeah, you've heard it before. But this is a serious one with major consequences—which is why you've heard this line a hundred times. Sleep whenever you can, however you can. For months the only way my little guy would sleep was on me, so I threw him in the sling on my front and would fall asleep sitting upright on the couch with him. See? Anytime. Anywhere. Get creative and make it your second most important job to keeping your little alive. I mean it.
9. Your relationships may become strained. Ahem, your relationships will become strained. See #8 up there? Sleep deprivation and its affects are FOR REAL. While you may normally be a happy-go-lucky kind of gal, a lack of sleep can turn you into a real-life zombie with anger issues. Say sorry, a lot. Then try to get some sleep.
10. It WILL get better. Those early days are the dark ages. SO hard yet, truthfully, filled with so much love. Then the sleep deprivation sets in and it can get seriously rough. It.Gets.Better. Hang in there mama. Truthfully, I didn't understand why people even procreated until my son was over a year old, it was that hard.
11. Ok, so I know I said "10 Things" but this last one is a bonus and SO important. Find a tribe of new mamas that are IN IT and not afraid to talk about the trials and tribulations honestly. Reach out. Make play dates. Go to the new mama support group at the Wenatchee Public Library. Being home with your child can feel isolating, but you're not alone, there are so many people out there to share this journey with. Benefits: friendship, community, perspective. Drawbacks: none. Do it!
My son is a happy, healthy, almost two-year-old now and I feel beyond blessed—like I never thought I could love being a mama this much. No matter what this parenthood journey brings you, no matter how hard it gets, it WILL get better. Hang in there. You've got this mama.