Today marks my 36th week. Or as Target so gleefully reminds me, only 28 days left until my due date. The last 36 weeks seem like a blur – a mash-up of doctor appointments, baby gear, name discussions, family functions and holidays all topped with the glaze of exhaustion and a steep learning curve that’s been long and (at times) difficult to navigate. And the baby isn’t even here yet.
Truth is – like most first-time moms – I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to caring for a newborn, and on the whole I feel woefully unprepared for the journey ahead. People ask me if I’m ready. Ready for my entire world to start spinning on a new axis around a new center of gravity and at a speed that feels way too fast and at the same time painfully slow (especially during those midnight feedings)? How does one prepare for that?
My husband was quizzing me last night, asking a bunch of questions about caring for a newborn: How often do they eat? How much do they eat? How do you measure how much they eat when breastfeeding? How often do you bathe them? What’s tummy-time?
I think I answered most of his questions, but some of them (like “how do you know if they’re eating enough when breastfeeding?”) really stumped me. And with 28 days to go, saying “I don’t know” somehow sounds like I’m saying “I didn’t care enough to learn.” Is it possible I’m a bad Mom already?
I constantly feel like I haven’t read enough books, or taken enough classes, or asked enough questions. People say it comes naturally, that you learn as you go. That’s of relatively little comfort for most first-timers I’d say. And it’s that fear of the unknown that tends to keep me up at night.
In talking with Jen on Tuesday night, I brought up the fact that this Mother’s Day, I’m going to be a Mom, and I feel woefully unprepared for that. I didn’t know last year was my last “not-a-mother” Mother’s Day. I didn’t have a chance to think about it, let it sink in, and realize the change that was in store. Nor did I know my 30th birthday was my last as a non-parent, or that it was the last time we’d celebrate Father’s Day or my husband’s birthday without a child of our own.
You see, I know how to be single me, and married me, but being a MOM feels a bit like I’m slipping into someone else’s skin. It’s new, it’s foreign, and it’s completely unknown. And while the change is exciting and I am looking forward to looking into the face of my newborn son for the first time, I’d be lying if I didn’t come out and say that the thought both thrills and terrifies me.
I have a great network of supportive family members and friends who are willing to walk slowly with me through the journey – people who have been there, survived, and learned a thing or two along the way. People who tell me it’s ok to feel unprepared, that it’s not a solo journey, and that mistakes will be made and that’s ok. People who reassure me that as scary as the unknown appears to be right now, it’s the most wonderful adventure I’ll ever take.
There’s a lot I don’t know about what’s in store for me as a first-time Mom: a lot I can’t predict, foresee, or even prevent. But the one thing I do know is that I am not walking this road alone, and I need to remember to lean on the support graciously provided by those who love me (and my little boy) enough to take the time and walk with us through the hard parts, the confusing moments, and hopefully, through the joyful times as well.