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What a journey motherhood is. We all know there’s no instruction manual and that everyone’s story is different. This complex thing called motherhood is as beautiful as it is terrifying, well, if you’re anything like me.

It wasn’t until I became a mom that realized how little I knew about children, motherhood, diaper choices and truly, truly healthy food. We all have this idea about what parenting may or may not be — but you really have no idea until you’re there.

Since I’ve been a mom, here are just a few things I had no idea about before Aug. 14, 2016:

1. You go home with diapers and numbing spray — for you, not your baby

Um, yeah. You’ll be sore and leaking for days down there, and there’s nothing like a generous spray of Dermoplast to help ease the discomfort. Not gonna lie: those gigantic pads and panties from your health care provider will be the least sexiest, most comfortable disposable clothing you’ll never want to take off. Don’t be ashamed — you just made a human!

A sure post-delivery staple

2. Your boobs leak like crazy

Stock up on nursing pads. Just go ahead and throw some in your work bag and purse now, because you don’t want to be caught without them while you’re out. When your baby is not available to feed, your breastmilk will leak until you’re able to empty your breast. This might be a nifty trick to indicate when it’s time for baby to eat. If you’re full and preparing to feed your baby, the other boob may leak as you’re nursing. It’s helpful to pump the other breast if you can, or you can alternate boobies for relief. Breastmilk backup can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

3. You won’t sleep for two months

I’m not exaggerating here. Some people are fortunate enough to have help during these sleepless nights, but we weren’t. My husband and I literally broke the night up into two sleep shifts the first couple months the baby was home. She cried or was just up through the night. If we did sleep, it was staggered. It was extremely taxing. I remember the first night I got a full hour of sleep, and my daughter was just about two months old. I cried from being so tired. If you have help, take it. Rest while grandma or someone is available to watch the baby and especially lean on any kind of overnight help available. Pulling all-nighters in college ain’t got nothing on this.

4. ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ is bullshit advice you’ll never follow

Expectations: Spends maternity leave cleaning and catching up on housework and work, work.

Reality: Sneaking in episodes of Gilmore Girls and using my newly-fried mom brain to imagine me catching up on housework and work, work.

They say “sleep when the baby sleeps” or whatever, but it was impossible for me. When she went down, I just wanted to take the time to catch up something, anything. I wanted to fold that laundry. Check back on a source. Meal prep. Finish a story outline. You thought!

This wasn’t wise. Your maternity leave is about bonding with the baby and not trying to do everything in one fell swoop. You should sleep when the baby sleeps if you can, but your mind will be a million other places. I’m telling you though, I could have greatly benefited from all that lost daytime rest.

You’ll rebel against sleeping when the baby sleeps, we all do. But just try. Relax your mind, sit down, close the laptop and get that nap in.

5. You’ll know a love you never imagined you were capable of

It’s a love that can move mountains. Sometimes I just watch her face as she sleeps, amazed as she develops — inside and out — each day. I love how she talks. I love how she walk. I love her mind. I love her head shape. I love spending time with her each day. Some days are bad (because, toddlers), but the love never changes. I was never prepared to love as passionately and deeply as I do my daughter.

Babywearing until the wheels fall off!
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