This is me, well, that is, you, from the future. We have a beautiful little girl named Philomena - but, you already knew that.
There are a couple things I've learned in the last 3 months that I thought would be helpful for you to know. So throw those pregnant feet up and read on.
1. The unknown is scary, and labor is a big unknown. It's ok to be scared. But - remember that birth is a natural function of the body. Give in. Just let it happen. And if it takes a long time - and I mean a really long time - it DOES end. And you get an amazing baby at the finish line, and you quickly forget all the pain. Oh, and stop asking if it's like running a marathon. It's not. It's 1,000 times harder.
2. Stop worrying about having all the right stuff. In the end, all she needs is you, her dad, and a car seat. There are a million baby things marketed necessary, and so much of it is unnecessary. That being said, here are my favorite items that we've used in the past 3 months:
3. You'll feel a lot of emotions in the weeks after birth. Cry when you feel like it. Laugh when you can. Enjoy each moment for what it is, instead of what you think it should be. It's ok to feel sad for a couple weeks - the baby blues are real for you. But they are mild, thankfully, and will pass with time.
4. You will worry more than you thought was humanely possible. Right now, Philly is a part of you, safely tucked away. Once she's born, a piece of you has left your body. I personally feel like a chunk of my heart is gone, surviving without me in the world. This will never go away. But, to love someone more than anything else in the world is a good feeling - so amazing that it's frightening.
5. You're going to feel isolated and restless. The first couple weeks at home are great, but when Tim goes back to work, the restlessness sets in. The transition to staying at home is hard for you, and that's ok. It will take almost 8 weeks for you to get into a routine and feel successful at being a new mom, so settle in for the ride. At 4 weeks, you're going to wish you could go to work and feel like you are contributing to something - but just wait. Wait until week 5 when she smiles at you for the first time, or week 6 when you can have full-on baby conversations with her. It gets better, and then before you know it, it's time to go back to work and send her to daycare...leaving you wishing that you lived in a world where you would work in the mornings and play with your baby in the afternoon.
6. Stop with the schedules. You'll read this stupid book called Cherish the First 6 Weeks, and you're going to think it's the best thing ever...while your baby rests comfortably in utero. Don't stick to a feeding schedule. Go with your gut, and feed her when you feel it's right. That being said, don't let her feed every hour, as it will destroy your feeding vessels and you will cry. (The first two weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest, so get through those, and you'll be good).
7. It goes fast. And slow sometimes. But mostly fast. Right now, I'm thunderstruck that I have to take our daughter to daycare on Monday. How did maternity leave evaporate before my eyes? Why don't we live in Denmark where they get 9 months of paid leave? So even though you are tired, enjoy those 2am and 4am wake up calls...because you have the ability to nap the next day. Even though I know you rarely will.
8. Let people help. I know it's hard for you to ask for help, so when people offer, take it! Raising a child really does take a village, especially when you are recovering (which, for the record, will take 3-4 weeks). You'll actually eat like a queen (thanks Mum!) and your husband treats you like delivered his child (oh, wait, yes you did). Ask your friends questions - they are all incredibly helpful. FaceTime with your sister-in-law everyday and ask her tons of questions or just to vent. Help yourself too - make some frozen meals now, and get as organized as possible. I still haven't cleaned out the freezer, ps, so don't feel bad about that one.
9. Watch her sleep every chance you get. Newborns will easily sleep in your arms, and often. No, you won't spoil her until she's about 4 months, so cuddle her while she sleeps now. And instead of watching TV, watch her. Watch her breathe, stroke her hair, and hold her hand. One day she'll be too heavy or she'll just want to look up and smile at you which is cute, but - you know she needs to sleep in order to have a good night, so you'll have to swaddle her and put her in the nursery. We've learned that good sleeping days make for good sleeping nights.
10. You will have a new body post birth. It's hard - I'm not going to sugarcoat it. But go easy on yourself, and embrace your body for what you just did. You will feel like a warrior after birth, but that feeling fades after a couple weeks of sleep deprivation and none of your clothes fitting. But each time you get down, think of your daughter - you'll instantly feel better. When you feel ready, do a Whole30 - your supply will increase, and you'll feel so much better.
11. Being a mom is the hardest, but most amazing role you will fulfill. I know that work and career and success have been important to you - and it still is, just in a new way. You will look at your daughter everyday and think about what a little miracle she is, and can't remember life before her. (You will seriously ask yourself what you did in your spare time without a baby). You'll have a new appreciation for Mum, and will finally understand how much she loves you.
And - this is just the beginning.
Oh, and good luck with labor. It does end, I promise.