How Having a Baby Changes Your Life

There’s something about announcing that you’re starting a family that frees up the unsolicited advice-giving in others. When I told friends that we were trying to conceive during our first year of marriage I heard a lot of this: Are you sure you’re ready? Because a baby will change your life.

This question wasn’t posed in a sippy-cup-is-half-full kind of way. Oh no. It was more of a coded A baby will slow you downInterfere with your career, your new life together. Consider waiting until things are more…settled.

Truth is, my desire to mother was one of the few things in an unsettled life that had already been settled. I’d known that I wanted to become a mother my whole life, the way I just knew all those other things about myself that made me, well, ME.

That my fake smile is unconvincing.

That I’m only really home among the hills and hollers of Appalachia.

That, try as I might to stop it, Amazing Grace will always make me cry.

The desire to mother was written into my DNA. Woven through my bedclothes. Tattooed across my heart.

I’d been warned one thousand times: When you have a baby you can’t be spontaneous. You can’t just drop everything and go. (This conjured up the image of me leaving an infant half-fed in his high chair as I skipped town for Vegas on a whim.)

There were, of course, other well-meaning tidbits of the obvious. You’ll never sleep again. Say goodbye to romance. Diapers are expensive, you know!

There’s no denying it: a baby will change your life. But in all of the downward slanted whispers and warnings of friends, I wish someone had told me this:

You’ll never know you had this capacity to love. It’s true that you might not bond with your baby right away. For some, it takes days or even weeks. But when it happens? There is no going back. You’re in it for life.

You’re joining a sisterhood of mothers across all cultures and throughout time. Of all the reflections on motherhood that I hear from other moms, this is one of the most frequent: that having children allows you to understand and empathize with your own mother. Not only that, but becoming a mother allows you to see the world from the perspective of all mothers. You become more intuitive, sensitive, protective and caring.

Your priorities will shift, but you’ll understand yourself even more. There’s nothing like having a child to shift your priorities. Suddenly you see what really matters in life. Your values sharpen when you’re setting the example for another person, and that tiny pair of eyes constantly fixed on you keeps everything in perspective.

So yes. Having a baby will be a life-changer. Along with the sleep deprivation and loss of freedom will come things you never even imagined.

I’d trade a few hours sleep for what’s in store any day.

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. She’s writes about all things toddler at Babble’s Toddler Times. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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