Having a baby is a huge deal. No matter how biologically reasonable it is that humans reproduce, no matter how many times it happens (and it happens a LOT, or there wouldn’t be 7.5 billion people on the planet right now), the birth of a child - when it’s YOUR child - feels like the biggest thing that’s ever happened.
It sounds cliche, but it really does change EVERYTHING.
Of course there are the things everyone warns you about. You’ll find yourself celebrating the mornings that you get to “sleep in” until 6am with a cup of coffee that’s only been reheated twice. You’ll start buying dry shampoo by the case. You’ll have more contact with another human being’s bodily fluids than you ever thought possible. And no matter how many books you read and classes you diligently attend, you’ll worry about EVERYTHING.
The temperature of the room. The angle of the carseat. The ingredients in the laundry detergent. What you’re eating. What the baby’s eating.
Maybe you’ll drink terrible-tasting lactation teas. Maybe you’ll research baby formula until your eyes go numb. And just when you finally figure it out, it’ll be time for solid food, and you’ll cut grapes into twelve pieces and clean mashed avocado out of your child’s ears.
Get Ready! (Spoiler: You’ll Never Be Ready)
Nine months (40 weeks if you want to get technical) seems like an awfully long time, especially when you spend a good portion of it throwing up, growing out of your jeans, and buying crazy pillows in the ongoing quest for comfort. There’s a lot to do, though, before you welcome a baby into your family. It’s easy to get lost in the tornado of hormones and questions that temporarily touches down in your brain when you’re pregnant.
So stock up on whatever weird food you’re craving, download one of those odd/helpful apps that compares your unborn child to various things from the produce section, and while your baby makes his or her journey from a chia seed to a kumquat to a rutabaga, you can check things off the list. Just to get you started, here are a few decisions you might want to make while gestating.
What to Obsess Over While You’re Expecting
What changes should you make to your monthly budget?
Every family will have different needs and priorities here. For most of us, it’s basically just a process of deciding where we have to make cuts to fun things like vacations and manicures for the next few years so we can afford to buy 10,000 diapers and 40 pounds of coffee every month. You might also want to consider more long term things like life insurance and college savings, though.
Will you go back to work or stay at home?
While it’s commonly assumed that being a stay-at-home mom is a financial privilege, it’s sometimes almost a financial necessity, depending on how much you make and the average daycare cost where you live. Weigh your options, and decide what makes sense based on your income and your intuition. If you will need childcare, it’s a good idea to do your research and, if possible, establish a plan before the baby arrives.
Do you need a new house?
It’s natural to assume that you need more space and better schools when you find out you’re having a child. Moving during pregnancy can be super stressful, though, so keep in mind that infants don’t need much space, and school won’t start for a few more years. If there’s no immediate need to relocate, consider staying put until the baby arrives and you’ve settled into your new life a little.
Having a baby at 25 is different from having a baby at 35. Having a baby you’ve been planning on is different from having one who surprises you. Staying at home with a baby is different from being a working mom. Raising a child with a partner is different from being a single mom. There are endless possibilities, opinions, approaches, and choices to make. But there’s also a lot of common ground in motherhood.
Becoming a mom opens every door and every window of your heart. It simultaneously softens your edges and sharpens your awareness, so you feel more, you think more, you laugh more, and you cry more. There are, of course, some things you’ll do less of, like sleeping, showering, and giving a hoot what anyone thinks of your leggings-as-pants choices.
The thing is, though, in spite of (and because of) your tired eyes, your tangled hair, your stretchy pants, and your unhinged heart, you will never feel more fierce than you do every time you see your child. And you will never be more beautiful than you are every time your child sees you. So let’s all raise a glass (or a cup of cold coffee) to the mom life.