I just came across the first photo we took of my pregnant belly bump. My toddler, and second child, had knocked over a glass of water onto our coffee table that also doubles as a storage chest, and the water had leaked down to where I have old photo albums packed away inside. I grabbed a towel, mopped up the spill while my two-year-old “helped” and took out all of the albums to make sure none of them were damaged. I’m never one to shy away from a trip down memory lane, so I sat down on the floor, opened the biggest one and began to turn through the pages.

It was my older daughter’s baby album. An actual album, with printed pictures inside. It begins with grainy ultrasound photos, then moves onto photos of my growing baby bump, followed by a detailed documentation of her first year of life. I’m happy my two-year-old doesn’t yet know to compare her own quantity of baby pictures with that of her older sister’s.

The baby pictures are adorable, of course, and I can’t believe how much my oldest has grown. But I flip back to that picture of me. I’m younger, fresh-faced, tanned, and toned. I look at the girl in the photo, and yes, I can call her a girl because, gosh even though she was 30, she looks so young. She is smiling and excited and I’m sure she thinks her stomach looks “huge”. She has no idea how huge she will become. Or how her back will ache, her feet will swell, her first birth story will not be at all the way she pictured it or how long it will take her to let that last part go. But right at this moment, in this picture, she looks downright radiant. I can’t believe how much that girl has grown, too.

That was only six years ago and I want to tell her not to sweat all that other stuff, it will all be OK. I want to tell her so much, because six years seems like both a lifetime and a minute ago, as fresh as it is faded. I can’t tell her everything, though, she has to live it to learn it, but if I could just tell her something, I would want to tell her this.

You will freak out when labor begins. It’s normal. It’s natural. It will be OK.

You will fall in love with your baby. Even if it’s not at first sight.

You will fret. About feedings and fevers. Milestones and money. It will all work out.

You will finally understand your parents. And realize why they’re a little bit nuts.

You will forget. To shower, to brush your teeth, to move the laundry to the dryer. Forgive yourself.

You will find support in family and friends. Let them help.

You will fault your partner. Try to remember you’re in it together.

You will feel you’re failing. All you can do is your best.

You will figure it out. You figure it out.

It’s hard.

It’s happy.

It’s happening.

And, don’t sweat it, you’re going to be great!

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Kathy Sisson

Kathy Sisson is a part-time marketer, full-time mom, and late-night writing hobbyist living in the Midwest. Her 12th grade English teacher told her she needed “to do something” with her writing. Half a lifetime later, she’s finally doing it. ​Her published musings on life and littles have been featured on Her View From Home and Parent.com. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram.