To the moms who will come after me, some unsolicited advice: soak it in.
Soak in the first trimester when all you want to do is sleep and people let you. Soak in announcing your pregnancy to family and friends or holding it close a bit longer: the greatest secret you’ll ever know.
Soak in the second trimester and your newfound energy. Soak in the hours browsing the aisles of baby stores creating your registry. Soak in the tiny newborn clothes and the hours you’ll spend washing them, folding them, and tucking them into nursery drawers. Once the baby arrives, it will never be this organized or this quiet again.
Soak in the moment you learn it’s a boy or a girl, whether you find out halfway or upon delivery. If I can promise you one thing, it’s this: whatever you think you want, you’ll end up loving what you get more than you can currently fathom. A kind of love that will sneak up on you during middle-of-the-night feedings and invoke alligator tears and feelings you didn’t know you were capable of feeling, particularly the first week postpartum.
Soak in your growing belly. How one day you don’t look pregnant and the next it’s undeniable. Soak in the maternity jeans, the tent shirts, the belly bands. You’ll get back to your regular jeans someday, and if not, your baby is a greater reward and your body is pretty damn remarkable. Look what it just did. Have grace with it.
Soak in your labor and the moment you give birth. Take pictures, take videos: lots of pictures and lots of videos. You’ll soon cherish reveling in your pre-delivery youthfulness, the way your husband or partner looked at you. In being able to hear your baby cry for the first time and seeing him placed on your chest. In being able to go back and soak it all in over and over again when you realize it all goes by too fast.
Soak in those first few nights at home, going to bed and waking up (often) as a family of three (or more). Soak in the sounds of a voice so new yet familiar and the movements of tiny limbs once tucked inside you. Soak in the way the baby falls asleep on your chest after every feeding. One day much too soon, he’ll be too busy and too big to do either of these things. Soak them in.
Soak in the first bath at home, the scent of the baby shampoo, the baby lotion, the baby detergent, the baby. Soak in the moment he first smiles at you—really smiles at you— and the moment he starts to track you with his eyes. This is just the beginning of the two of you searching for each other across the smallest and largest of rooms. At family gatherings, school programs, graduation, his wedding. Everything in between.
I’m only four months into this postpartum adventure, but it’s enough time to know time goes by —and they grow up—too fast. Soak it all in.