When I had my first-ever positive pregnancy test, I called the doctor’s office the moment they opened to fill them in on the happy news. (Could they be a little more enthusiastic? I’m PREGNANT for gosh sakes!)

Then I subscribed to every pregnancy and parenting email list, blog, and notification service in existence before heading over to the library to check out every what-to-expect book on the shelf.

On the day of my delivery, I was prepared to experience a natural, drug-free vaginal birth, and of course (like most new moms), I was certain I’d be the most fabulous, loving momma ever.

I reviewed my labor and delivery plans with my nurse. I’d be following Dr. Robert Bradley’s childbirth method in which the woman, with the help of her partner, deals with the stress of labor by tuning into her own body.

A few hours later, I was on the surgical table, having a cesarean section.

This was not in the books.

Nothing I’d read had prepared me to be on my back beneath those fluorescent lights, my belly wide open beyond the paper sheet. No e-newsletter had described the smell of my own cauterized flesh. No one had told me that delivering this baby might be something that happened to me, instead of something I did in my own flawlessly-planned way.

Or maybe they did tell me. But I didn’t hear them.

I felt a lot of pressure, some tugging, then an emptying. The doctor lifted my baby above the sheet.

A boy. My baby boy!

The nurse placed my son on my chest. I pressed my lips to his taffy cheek, whispered that his name was Gray Daniel and that I have loved him for months– that I loved him before he even existed.

From that moment on, there were no books.

No books could explain the first sniff of your newborn baby’s hair. The way his quivering jaw turns your insides to maple syrup.

No expert could prepare you for the terror of the car ride home. That you’ll set new records on carseat safety checks.

No article can adequately describe the light in the nursery at 4:30 am, chubby fingers resting on your breast.

The vulnerability that comes with the first fever. First shot. First hour apart.

Or the joy of the first birthday party. First time you hear the word momma.

No one tells you frankly that you cannot have nice things anymore. That designer bedding will still end up smelling like urine. That the wisest dining room color scheme is marinara and blueberry.

That you won’t even need a pregnancy test for baby number two because gagging your way through every poopy diaper change is the earliest indicator of conception.

No one prepares you for sleep deprivation. Sitting on the closed toilet lid with the shower and sink running full blast because you have to not hear the crying for just a couple minutes.

Or the first sloppy kiss. First I love you, Momma.

This is the stuff that’s not in the books. The stuff no one told us.

Or if they did, we didn’t hear them.

There are no books– no newsletters, articles, manuals or rules for being a parent. There are no methods or theories or philosophies that will prove true all of the time.

We learn as we go. We notice. We sense. We trust.

We open our hearts and minds to things we never acknowledged before.

We do it our way. The way that works for us.

We write our own books, share our own stories in our own language, each day the dawn of a new page.

(Feature Image by Amy Vivio Photogaphy 2013)

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Stacy Harrison

Stacy Harrison lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, three sons and a Goldendoodle who wasn’t supposed to shed. When she’s isn’t moonlighting as a wrestling referee (Living Room Floor Federation), Stacy enjoys writing non-fiction, primarily to-do lists and grocery lists. Visit Stacy’s blog, https://revisionsofgrandeur.com/