Dear soon-to-be new mom,

I see you there, on Instagram or on the street. I see your baby announcement, rows of shoes or clever puns.

I see your “gender reveal” with pastel frosting and colored balloons. I see your smile and your hope, the promise of new life that awaits you.

I don’t wish to issue you ominous warnings about impending sleepless nights or newborn crying jags.

I’m not here to tell you horror stories about labor and delivery, nor to disclose the top 100 things no one has ever told you about postpartum recovery.

There are more than enough candid internet listicles and strangers in Target who will take care of that.

But still, I see you.

I see you testing gliders in Buy Buy Baby and presenting elaborate nursery reveals on Facebook.

I see the naiveté you can’t help but have, the wide-eyed optimism of someone standing before a future she can’t possibly know.

I see you, and I wish I could tell you what you’re in for when your baby arrives.

I wish I could tell you just how much your life is going to change, just how different it will be from the rest of your life that came before it.

But, I can’t.

I can’t because I don’t know what your life will be like.

Maybe you fear childbirth the way some mortals fear death, or worse, public speaking, and your labor and delivery will be shockingly smooth.

Maybe the nurses will laugh as they jokingly tell you to keep your birth story to yourself because it will make other moms hate you.

Or, maybe your delivery will be the kind you swore you’d never have.

Maybe it’ll be better. Maybe it’ll be worse.

Maybe you’ll start to judge other moms who do things differently.

Or, maybe you’ll understand there is no one size fits all and that every mother is the best mother for her child.

Maybe your baby will be a great sleeper from the beginning.

Maybe he’ll sleep well until he’s four-months-old, or nine-months-old.

Maybe she’ll be a terrible sleeper when she’s teething or when she has a cold or a rash or when the moon is in the sky.

Maybe your baby will wake up every hour until he’s two-years-old.

Maybe your baby will be a little of all these things.

Maybe you’ll think you’re going insane from sleep deprivation.

Maybe your baby will sleep in their crib from day one. Maybe you’ll co-sleep right off the bat.

Maybe you don’t believe in co-sleeping or bed-sharing.

Maybe you’ll find sharing a bed or a room is the only way you and your baby are able to get any sleep.

Maybe you’ll feel confident in your decision. Maybe you’ll waver. Maybe it won’t be anyone’s business what you do.

Maybe you’ll be extremely confident in your mothering abilities. Maybe you’ll never once doubt yourself.

Or, maybe you’ll doubt yourself all the time.

Maybe you’ll make inarguably stupid mistakes. Maybe you’ll beat yourself up over something small.

Maybe you’ll brush things off and later realize you shouldn’t have.

Maybe your husband will be an excellent father and co-parent. Maybe he’ll guide you through labor and delivery with ease.

Maybe he’ll be your savior and your saint when your hormones are crashing and you haven’t slept in days.

Maybe you’ll fall in love with him all over again. 

Maybe you won’t recognize yourselves for a while.

Maybe you’ll cry as you think about how your old lives are gone and wonder if there will ever be time for the two of you again. Maybe you’ll emerge together, stronger.

Maybe you’ll wonder what you ever did before it was the three of you.

Maybe you’ll yearn for time to yourself.

Maybe you’ll go back to work. Maybe you’ll stay home.

Maybe you’ll never second guess your decision. Maybe you’ll rethink it all the time.

Maybe you’ll plan for something different “next time around”.

Maybe you’ll always be conflicted no matter what you do.

Maybe you’ll try to have it all. Maybe you’ll settle for a little.

Maybe you’ll realize there is too much “all” for one person, and so you’ll be OK gathering what bits and pieces you can.

Maybe you’ll love motherhood. Maybe you won’t at first.

Maybe you’ll realize the very essence of motherhood is more bittersweet than you could have ever imagined.

Maybe you’ll share these thoughts with a friend. Maybe you’ll keep them to yourself.

Maybe you’ll look back and be glad you ignored naysayers. Maybe you’ll wish you had taken their warnings to heart. Maybe you won’t.

Either way, maybe you’ll be glad you didn’t listen because maybe you’ll realize there is nothing in the world that could have fully prepared you for your beautifully complicated life as a mom.

Originally published on the author’s blog 

Candace Alnaji

Candace is a workplace civil rights attorney, writer, and proud mom of three. Her musings on work and parenthood have appeared in numerous places around the web. In 2019, she was named one of Working Mother Magazine's Top Working Mom Bloggers. Candace can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.