It’s so easy these days. Pop a destination into the GPS in your car, or into the navigation app on your phone, push ‘directions’ and begin your journey. However, Motherhood, is one such journey that clearly doesn’t become your destination from what happens in your car… well, in most cases at least. And unfortunately, all the maps, guidebooks, and advice that you can access can never fully prepare you for this quest and how it will affect you as its traveler. But, it’s always fun to imagine that you can be prepared, or even better, help prepare another, and so here is my Motherhood navigation- what I think the GPS would tell someone who is about to be a mother.
Looking back on my own experiences, I am sure, that a motherhood GPS should start with it’s often annoying “Re-routing” message. Because, are you really sure you want to do this? And I know that you will say, “Yes, I want a baby,” but do you really? Because I know that when I was in your shoes, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know about all the impossibilities that come along with being a mom. All the guilt that comes along with being a mom. How my life would really and truly never be the same again. Movie days, naps, late nights out on the town? All gone for me. Some manage to pull it off, to keep a semblance of their life that once was, but I have not, and I’m not alone. What will it be like for you? That’s hard to say, impossible actually because you have no idea how motherhood is going to affect you personally until you are in the throes of it. Until you are on your knees from exhaustion because that beautiful bundle of joy wakes up every time you set her down, and how can you “sleep when she sleeps,” as everyone so expertly suggests, when you can’t set her down? So, take your time before you jump in. Enjoy all the things you love to do because there is a chance that it will be a long, long, long time before you ever, if ever, get to do them again.
2. Start at, “Holy cow, I’m actually pregnant” Boulevard
This can be unexpected, this can be planned, this can take years, or you can get lucky the first time you actually “intend” to get pregnant. It’s amazing all of the variety of options to get to this point, but once you pee on that stick, and it shows “pregnant” in digital print, or two pink lines, or a plus sign, or whatever that particular test you just peed on is supposed to say in order to show you that you are, indeed, pregnant, it is definitely a ” Holy… I’m gonna be a Mother…” moment. There may be tears, good or bad. There may be panic. There may be lots and lots of happiness, mixed with panic, but no matter what, you are in it now for the long run. You got what you wanted, and the journey is just beginning. Morning sickness, no morning sickness, incredible weight gain, minimal weight gain. Gestational diabetes and many other complications can potentially be in your future. It’s good to get to the doctor as soon as you are supposed to and make sure you pay attention to that new baby vehicle you are walking around as so you can be as in tune with your body and its developments as possible. First you may just feel fat before you actually feel pregnant, but as the months pass on and you start to feel a little “flutter” in your belly, or your baby kicks for the first time, or your heartburn keeps you awake at night, or your intense gas keeps your partner awake at night, there is so much to which you can look forward.
3. Take the Roundabout on the right to “Holy cow, I actually have a baby” Lane
( 30 min- hours…)
So after about 9 months on that last Boulevard, you are now in for the ride of your life. Your water may break indicating the need to turn down this lane. Your bloody show may make an appearance. You may have contractions. You may feel like you need to take a major dump… there’s a variety of factors that may indicate the need to make this direction change on your journey and each woman’s is different, so just be aware of your body, and hopefully close to the hospital when the time comes.
Luckily, there are some tools to aid in the comfort of this portion of the trip, or you may decide to go on God’s good grace and grunt and bear every pang of childbirth. Up to you. All I can is say is, I’m nobody’s hero and chose to use an epidural on both deliveries and do not regret it one bit. If you’re anything like some of the ladies in my family, you will pop this baby out in under an hour with no meds, while I pushed for two hours on my first, but had a much easier time on the second go. It’s a wild ride for us all no matter what the circumstances: natural, cesarean, meds, no meds, a combination of the mix. But within a day’s time, or hopefully much much less than that, your babe will be lying in your arms, on your chest, and you will be in love like you have never felt in your entire life. It’s amazing, that is for sure. And soon, it will set in. “Holy shit, I actually have a baby.”
4. Turn Left onto, “I think I know everything about parenting because I had parents” Drive (All the years up til the point said child exits one’s body, or the body of one’s partner.)
This is actually the shortest portion of the trip. For while you were a single person ( meaning sans child) navigating your way in the world, without a doubt you encountered parents and children. Others, yours, strangers, neighbors, family. They are everywhere. And at some point, it is safe to say you probably thought, “I would never …” and then finished the thought in some way with a judgment of what you would do if you were a parent. Well, here you are, and all I have to say is, “Knock that shit out.” Because now you are a parent and you will see things in a totally new perspective. What drives your actions may be completely unsuspected and subconscious. What you thought you knew, you don’t. What you think you’d do, you might not. The way you saw things before, you never will again. Welcome to the parent side.
5. Loss of signal. Searching for satellite.
And here we are at our destination. Yes, you read that correctly. A loss of signal is truly your destination because there is nowhere else for you to go. You’ve arrived. You’re forever driving the parent bus and there is nothing that can really help you. You have to trust your gut and do what you think is best, with love as your motivation. You can ask for directions, but it may not help. You can stop and talk with those you pass by, which is definitely helpful, but in the end, you have to get back in your parent bus and drive it yourself. You will run out of gas. You will need an oil change from time to time. You will be on a journey that lasts a lifetime, but at the same time, feels like it is flying by, and believe me, even though times are tough, you will wish that parent bus was actually a Delorean and you could go back and do it all again.