You will not get pregnant at the exact time you wanted to. Your child will not be born under the star sign you wish he had. Some of us will get pregnant after a one-night stand, some through IVF; some will make love and then keep their feet up the wall while others will transform baby-making into their job—complete with charts, ovulation kits and strict orders for their partner to stay out of the hot tub. Some will try many times. As many as it takes.

Pregnancy will not be blissful the entire time. There will be moments when you understand why it feels the way it does. But most of the time is just life doing life’s job. Day by day, moment by moment of mundane while your body is creating the biggest miracle of them all, without you having to do anything special or different. You will be uncomfortable, feel huge, need to pee constantly and sleep poorly. Some days you will glow. Others you will hope the baby is glowing while you are shading.

Birthing will hurt. Whether in a birth pool, operating table, a bed, the floor, or by the river, you will be in pain. All of it meaningful. All of it necessary.

“What if” becomes the biggest question of your life now. Sometimes it’s for good, sometimes it’s not. Most of the time it is the fear of not loving the tiny human like you wished you were loved when you were small and helpless.

You will not get the baby you think you deserve. Or the baby you think deserves you. You will just get the perfect baby. Even when you don’t understand how this happened.

You will make many mistakes. Most of them will not be traumatizing your child for life. Some of them will haunt you and bring back many memories you wanted gone. Very few of them will trigger massive, life-changing transformations. Don’t try to resist them; they will all come back eventually until you are ready to listen to what they have to say.

You will cry. A lot. It’s not a weakness. It’s just a release. You’re a good mom! Your kid will cry. A lot. The number of tears she will shed is not an indication of how good of a mom you are. Your kid is good!

You will judge other mothers. You will measure up or down based on their choice of food, parenting style, accepting, rejecting or asking for help. Everything you see in them is a direct reflection of something you lack within yourself. You will be judged by other mothers. What they see in you is a direct reflection of something they lack in their own life.

Either way, breathe. Each and every one of us struggles.

If you decide to stay home, you will miss your work accomplishments. If you decide to go back to work, you will feel guilty for leaving your kids. If you decide to work from home, you will constantly hope to find the balance you think should be there. (That balance is a myth.)

Nobody has it easy. Everybody thinks others have it easier.

You will need help. Loads. It doesn’t make you a bad mom or a poorly organized person. Why you have a hard time asking for help is what deserves a closer look.

You will relive your childhood and finally understand your parents. You will either want to be more like them or go the exact opposite direction. You will experience both every day.

Your child will trigger the absolute best and absolute worst in you. All these emotions are relevant. Not all deserve to be followed. Let them go.

The intensity of everything in your marriage will increase—more vicious fights, more passionate sex, more distance, more proximity. It’s just a new season. Worry less. Nurture more. Every tiny bit of love and kindness count.

You will do things you swore you would never do. You will say things you never thought you could say. You will consider options you never knew existed.

You will worry. You will sweat. You will imagine the worst possible scenario. You will see the danger in everything. You’re not losing your mind. It’s just nature trying to protect the human species.

You will want to change the world. You will want to scream your newfound truths from the top of the mountain. You want to hide your shame in the deepest cave. Eventually, you’ll find the flat, open space where you can safely do both.

You will fiercely protect what you think is the most important thing to do for your child: on-demand breastfeeding, sleep schedules, co-sleeping, organic veggies, reusable diapers, Montessori, baby classes, free play, sunscreen, probiotics or vaccinations. Only to realize there is no universal recipe for successful child rearing other than “make peace with yourself so you can parent without bringing your expectations into who your child is supposed to become.”

But mostly, you will learn that life, kids, relationships, failures and accomplishments, decisions or lack of them, all of it happens FOR you—not TO you.

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