A Letter to My Pre-Parent Self

a letter

Hi perfectly-manicured-well-rested-and-totally-in-control-self,

It’s me, well you, urggh…it’s us. Just a slightly less know-it-all, slightly heavier you. I’m here to fill you with a little humor and a lot of truth as you embark on this parenting journey. But first, let me start by saying what your friends and family are too polite to say, “shut up!” Seriously, just shut up. Shut up with your parenting expectations and declarations of “my baby will never”. Yes, I know that you have read every.single.parenting book that ever existed and that you are a generally intelligent person, but you truly know nothing about what is about to happen to your life. You might know how to swaddle, do some kegals, and decorate a nursery, but you really know nothing about what your life (all of it- mind, body, and soul) will be like when you’re handed this baby you’ve been studying for the last 10 months. Parenthood isn’t just a test, it’s a sprint, a marathon, an interview; a lifelong exercise in enduring watching the best part of you toddle around without your constant supervision and support. Parenting is SO much more than you have ever contemplated and you will never, ever know everything (or anything, really) about what you’re doing.

But, just to scratch the surface, I’ll start with your top 6 Pre-Parenting Expectations (PPE). You know, the things you’ve carried about like that baby in your belly, nourishing and coddling them with all your pre-parenting knowledge just waiting for the day that you can put these into action. After all, you have finally cracked the code on parenting that the generations before you have been left flabbergasted by.

PPE 1: Some of your parenting misconceptions will be exposed far sooner than others and your idea of the perfect labor and delivery is one of those. You will have your baby naturally, and will immediately have skin-to-skin time followed by effortless nursing.

Reality: You will be told you will almost certainly have a C-section when your baby is still breech after 38 weeks. You will be SO relieved when your baby flips and you are scheduled for a normal induction. You will have a relatively easy labor but your baby will be born with the cord around her neck and need special attention. About the time FINALLY cries for the first time, the doctor and nurses will start sticking you with LOTS of needles and explain calmly that you are hemorrhaging. After two hours, you will finally be able to hold your perfect, beautiful baby.

PPE 2: You will never be a slave to breastfeeding. If it doesn’t work, you will switch to formula and be perfectly fine with that.

Reality: You will fight like hell to exclusively breastfeed your child because, even though you believe formula really is fine, you will be inflicted with a guilt you’ve never felt at the thought of not offering your child the best option nutritionally. You will spend thousands of dollars on lactation consultants, teas, and supplements when your body fails to create any milk at all. You will cry guilty tears when your baby (still) isn’t gaining any weight because your body is (still) not creating any milk at all. You will feel immeasurable guilt for waiting to offer formula because when you (finally) do she (finally) starts gaining weight, sleeping, and loving life.

PPE3: Man, maternity leave is going to be really boring. Better stock up on books and projects.

Reality: Maternity leave will fly by in the blink of an eye. Between getting used to motherhood, lack of sleep, and marveling at your little wonder, you will barely make time to leave the house much less refurbish that old TV stand into a dress-up closet.

PPE4: You love working so you know that going back to work will be a BREEZE. Heck, you will probably be ready for a little adult time

Reality: What.The.Heck. Maternity leave is over in the blink of an eye and you haven’t even THOUGHT of work. How is this possible? How will you ever be able to leave this perfect little baby to go deal with mean ole adults?

PPE 5: You will not be like your other friends whose babies run their lives. Your baby and her schedule will just have to be flexible

Reality: HA.HA.HA. Let’s just take a second to marvel at your ignorance…Your entire life will be turned upside down- the least of which is your schedule and/or social life. When you have a baby who ONLY sleeps in her crib, you will be at home with her in her crib for basically 6 months. After that, for at least two years (I know because you’re still doing this) you will be at home between the hours of 11AM and 3PM to ensure that she and her baby brother will have ample amount of time for napping. Beyond that, you will think of how every outing will affect them. Will that restaurant’s service take too long? Is that drive too far for a one day trip with a baby? Do you need to pack a snack to run to the grocery store? It’s all about them, baby.

PPE 6: Your baby will have zero bad habits because you will nip them in the bud early on. Pacifiers? Lovies? No sensible baby needs those things

Reality: Your entire world will revolve around the locating a missing pacifier (specifically, these pacifiers. NUK Pacifiers, no others will do). When that pacifier is the only thing that stands between you and a good night’s sleep, or a peaceful dinner out, or a bearable car ride, it becomes worth more than just about anything you own.

PPE 7: Your baby will never, under any circumstances, be a snot-nosed kid. Those poor, nasty kids are obviously parented by Neanderthals and not sophisticated humans like you.

Reality: Your child will undoubtedly catch a cold that inflicts massive amounts of snot on your entire household. You will soon find that keeping up with wiping your child’s nose is basically impossible and will reserve your cleanup efforts for when you are in public with said snot-nosed kid.

To sum it up, until you have the baby you are so anxiously baking to perfection, you know nothing. And then, with every LEEP and milestone you will realize that you still know nothing. The only cure to this will come in a distant future when your little baby makes you a grandmother. At which time, you will know everything again.

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