When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I grew weary of the “warnings” pretty quick. Everywhere I went, people were constantly scaring me about everything from labour and childbirth to what life would be like with a newborn, toddler, and eventually an angsty teen. I wanted nothing more than to tune out their negativity but found it was nearly constant.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand (and did then, too) that new motherhood (hell, motherhood, fullstop) can be tough, but I wanted to learn for myself and be surrounded by positivity rather than an onslaught of rude comments. I figured this time around things would be different: I’m a seasoned mum with a rowdy toddler on my hip at all times. Surely no one would stop me in the supermarket to warn me about life after pregnancy. Right?
Wrong. As soon as we started announcing our pregnancy in social circles, and especially now that I’m showing, the nay-sayers burst forth. Suddenly all the things they told me about the first baby seemed to pale in comparison to the horrors being recounted about life with two kids.
“I see you (work out/get your nails done/go on dates with your husband) now. Say goodbye to all that!”
“Finally got a sleep schedule down? Ha! Just wait until the baby comes… none of you will be sleeping!”
“The toddler is going to be so jealous. Your relationship will totally change.”
The list goes on and on… and on. Just like the first time, I get it. People are trying to save me the absolute horror of discovering for myself how stressful life can be with two kids. I don’t believe that any of this is done in malice, though the snickers that sometimes accompany this “advice” piss me off, too.
But what’s your point in warning me, lady in the checkout aisle? Are you planning to come over in 6 months when no one is sleeping and I haven’t showered, eaten, or had sex with my husband in as long as I can remember? Are you going to help me through it? If not, maybe you should just keep your negativity to yourself.
And as for family and friends, believe me, I know I’m going to need you. I can foresee the texts I will be sending my sister-in-law at 2 a.m. because I managed to forget how to use a breast pump in the year since I last used one. I already know that I’ll break down and accept help from my parents, mother-in-law, second cousins, or hell, even the mailman if he offers because Mama’s gonna need it.
But I didn’t get through the first year of motherhood, or the year after that, running on rude or scary remarks from strangers. The strength I found to seek help upon the terrifying bout of late-onset PPD that cropped up eight months after giving birth was not thanks to anyone’s warnings, either. Instead, it came from surrounding myself with positive, caring people who listened.
Also, I love being a mum. Is it okay to say that? I love holding hands with my 2-year-old and listening to her little laugh. I find joy in simply being with her, and immense pride in watching her grow and discover new things. My relationship with my husband has strengthened, solidified, and blossomed in ways I never could have predicted before we had a child together. Being a mother is the truest and greatest part of who I am, and I welcome it — all of it — because I know that the good parts outweigh the bad.
Yes, I get stressed and sure, I yell. Somedays I mutter to myself or even cry as I wander around the house picking up the same toys that I’ve already organised several times that week. Most nights I don’t get as much sleep as I should because I’m either working, cleaning, or worrying. It took a long time to get us all on a schedule that works and I am mildly terrified of the seismic shift that’s about to come with a second baby.
But I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, and mostly I’m ready to learn it for myself. I don’t expect to know everything now and I do plan to tap into every resource I have at my disposal for help. But for now, please, have mercy and keep your mouth shut. I’m already carrying extra weight around on a body ridden with sciatica, nausea, and migraines. All with a two-year-old in tow. I definitely have fears and questions, so I don’t need any extra stress.
Please stop trying to scare me about how horrible life will be once my second child is born. Even if everything you’re saying is true, I don’t want to hear it right now. Just like you did, I’ll figure it out as I go. And believe me, if I have a question then, I’ll make sure to ask.
But until the hard moments arrive, let me sit in my joy. Let me cherish my final months taking care of just one sweet girl, while I nest and prepare for the second in peace. I deserve that courtesy, and so does every expectant mum, whether it’s her first, second, or fifth. We each have our own paths ahead, and it would be nice to have them paved with kindness.