Good luck. There is no going back. This is officially the only thing there is no going back on. This baby lives at your house now. It may be for eighteen years, may be for longer. All I can tell you is that once you check out of the hospital with your baby, there is no going back. Kiss the life you knew goodbye.
Take pictures. Take pictures of the mundane. Don’t worry about the professional baby glamour shots. Take pictures of you and your baby at noon, in the warm glow of the sun, in the living room. You will look back, years from now, and for a flash of a second, you will remember an ounce of the way you felt in that moment. It will be worth more than the total sum of money you made in your whole life.
Don’t worry about showering. You can shower later in life. Your baby literally will not judge you.
Don’t worry about your diet for a minute. Fruits and vegetables are good for you, but you can live a long time on Cheetos and cake, too.
You will become a hypocrite. Stuff you thought you knew, or thought you wanted, or told people you would do or would never do — it will all become mountains of lies. Who cares. Do your best to get through every day being kind to you, and kind to your baby. Hypocrisy is not the worst thing. It’s better to be a hypocrite than an asshole. Remember this.
You may be sad. Being sad doesn’t mean you’re not happy. You can be sad at the same time that you are elated, in awe, confused and overwhelmed. Get used to it. Mothering is a ship in which you are at the helm, and the seas are vast and murky and glorious and beautiful. You may be sad at times. Keep steering. The waters part.
You may feel lonely. Even with a baby draped across your body. Even if your partner is with you. Even if you have friends to turn to. When you become a vehicle between the past and the present, you may find yourself feeling inexplicably alone. The person that was inside of you for nearly a year left the residence of your body. You might feel lonely. It’s okay. Loneliness teaches us things. Like what we need from others.
Trust yourself. You are sufficient. You couldn’t have gotten this far if you weren’t.
You may need to get good at asking for help. If you have people in your life who you aren’t comfortable asking, get new people. Join mom groups. Call old friends you wish you hadn’t left behind. Ask for advice, ask someone to babysit, ask someone to bring you groceries. Read the Art of Asking, if it helps. But ask for help. And remember, when you do you open the door for others to ask for it when they need it, too. It’s cyclical. It’s lifesaving.
You may not finish an entire cup of coffee for the next couple years. You will see it, shimmering, winking at you, across the room, while you feed your baby. You will find it hours after you made it, cold like an ice cube. You will dream of its warmth. Coffee has been around since the 15th Century. It's not going anywhere. You will have its warmth again.
Trust yourself. You are sufficient. You couldn’t have gotten this far if you weren’t. Quiet the voice inside you that chides you. Quiet yourself and do the daily work of keeping this creature alive. The work is the payoff. Trust me. You can do it.
Know that it’s okay to be irreverent. Make fun of your baby. It’s funny! Make fun of yourself. Make fun of motherhood! Irreverence is funny the way all of the best jokes are. Because they are spitting in the face of truth. You will be so knocked over by the magnitude of this journey, that the irreverence may feel like a necessary part of the truth.
Give credence to everything you feel. Stare someone in the eyes and tell them you don’t like breastfeeding. Or tell them that you do. Tell them your nipples bleed or that you don’t make enough milk or that didn't breastfeed because you never wanted a baby attached to your breast — that it made you feel too much like a wildling. Tell other mothers how you really feel. Open the door for us to all be allowed to be honest in this, together. It is our communal job to break the silence on what it feels like to mother. It will free you. It will free us, at the same time.