How can I even begin to describe the journey you’re about to go on? Motherhood has been the most rewarding, disgusting, joy-filled, heart-wrenching experience I’ve ever imagined. Because you’re my sister and I love you and my niece about to enter the world, I want to give you some glimpses of your delightful future ahead. Buckle up, it’s going to get bumpy.
It’s going to hurt…
The birth, the recovery, and the love. I’m sure you’ve had to watch the videos and yes, it’s going to happen just like that…unless it doesn’t. Birth plans are fantastic but a baby will enter the world in whatever way they and your body want. Get ready for a great story that you’ll tell for the rest of your life. Embrace the chaos and the beauty of the situation. You may poop, you may throw up, you may hate everyone for a while…or you may do none of those things. The professionals at the delivery probably won’t be shocked by any situation you throw at them, so don’t feel self-conscious. You will be amazing.
Recover slowly and well.
No one told me about the recovery. It’s tough too. Accept help from everybody! Say yes to all the offers of meals, housecleaning, shopping, babysitting, etc. This was one of my biggest mistakes. I wanted to look like I was a strong woman who didn’t need outside help, so we accepted a few meals but I never used the gift certificate to clean my house. Even 22 years later, I would use it now if I could.
You’ll need to sleep and rest your body, so don’t fret about the house or the laundry or the chores. This is one of those rare moments when it’s perfectly acceptable to love your baby, love your body, and let the rest slide. Embrace it, sister!
It will take about 18 months (if not longer) to feel like it’s your body again. You just created and carried a human life INSIDE you. Relax and rest. Your body is beautiful no matter what unrealistic expectation society has set. This little girl is worth every stretch mark, every varicose vein, every new roll of skin you get. They are badges of courage and scars of beauty.
Breastfeeding is hard.
There. I said it. It’s difficult. I was told that it was natural and easy. Just show the baby where to go and pop, it’s done. That wasn’t my experience, but it may be yours. Like everything, it hurts in the beginning. But it’s also wonderful and beautiful and surprisingly convenient.
However, if you can’t/don’t breastfeed, that’s perfectly fine. Thank goodness we live in a world where we have choices like these. You make that choice and run with it. I’ve got your back.
The love is overwhelming.
Ooohhh, the overwhelming feeling of instant love is probably the craziest emotion of all. The love that you will feel for your daughter will be overpowering…it’s as if you never knew what love was until that moment. Tears flow from my eyes as I try to describe it. You’ll feel raw emotions for this little helpless, beautiful child and it hurts sometimes.
You’ll want to just stare at her all day long because you can’t imagine doing anything else. Any little coo or smile will be the greatest joy you have for that moment. Friends and family will come over and all you’ll want to do is stare at the baby and that’s wonderful. She’ll be pretty remarkable. Even at the ages of my kids, I still have those raw emotions of love and protection; I’ve just learned to control it a bit, and they aren’t so helpless anymore. And yes, it does hurt you more to discipline them.
You’ll feel frustrated.
Let’s be honest, it’s not all baby coos and naps. The communication skills of a newborn are pretty minimal. She’ll cry or not cry…maybe whine a little. You’ll be tired and overwhelmed. And sometimes you won’t know what she wants and she won’t be able to tell you…she’s a baby. Just take a breath, maybe another, and hold her or put her in her crib for a minute to regain your sanity. You’ll figure out what every grunt, squeak, and whine means. Soon enough, you’ll know if she needs to be fed, burped, or changed. Give yourself some grace; you and she are learning new languages.
Take care of yourself.
As your sister, please listen when I say don’t forget yourself. You matter just as much as the baby. You need to nurture yourself with good food, occasional sleep, and sanity. Take a walk outside: sunshine is good for you and my niece. Drink your water. Sleep when you can. Take a shower or bath. Watch all the Disney movies you want. And let others spoil you a bit.
Enjoy every minute of it…even when it’s not enjoyable.
Read good books to her, beyond the bland picture books. She’ll gain so many language skills just by her hearing your voice. Sing all the Disney songs! Music is a great way to teach language skills, speech patterns, vocabulary words, and promote brain development. Dance around. She’s one of us, so you know she’ll have amazing dance skills. Start her early. I’ve never met a baby who didn’t love a little baby dancing session every once in a while. Make funny faces. Seriously, when will it ever be more appropriate to act silly than when she’s around?
Above all, relax!
You are the center of her world for a brief time, so make your relationship strong. She’s never been a human before and you’ve never been a mom, so you have a lot in common. You’ll grow together and she’ll probably be just like you: adventurous, strong, and a crazy Disney lover. It’s true – the days are long, but the years are short.
I can’t wait to meet her and spoil her and give her loud, obnoxious toys. That’s my job and I’ll take it seriously. And if I remember correctly, my kids were given many loud toys from their Aunt Ryanne, so let the payback begin.
Love from your older and wiser sister,