A good friend of mine is set to have her baby any day now.  They have the nursery ready, bags packed, and she is home, on bedrest, awaiting her daughter’s arrival.

She is loved, cherished, and their first child.

I was thinking about my friend, Meredith, today as I was thinking about how 13 years ago, I had my bags packed, the nursery ready for my first child, our loved and cherished son Jonah.

I read books upon books about his birth, and child rearing.  I had ideas – lots of them for how things would be.  This isn’t a post about what I found out after getting home with him, or his birth story…it’s about the Moms I’ve met along the way…

Because Oh the Moms you’ll meet…

The “My Horrible Birth Story” Mom.

I still remember right before Jonah was born I was at a gathering with other people, some of them Moms and one of them started telling me her birth story.  And it wasn’t run of the mill,it was absolutely horrible.  Blood, Vomiting, Husband fainting, Poop…you name it.  Then all of the Sudden their 26 pound baby kicked his way out…And suddenly everyone who is there who I thought would give me some reassurance starts telling every horrible birth story they’ve heard.

I left the gathering with heart burn, and an intense fear of what I was sure was going to be my 18 pound monster who was going to be born with a cigar in hand, chest covered in hair, and the nurse screaming in what I’m sure was a Janice-esque brooklyn accent “Oh MY GAAAWD!”

The “My Perfect Birth Story” Mom.

She begins with having the perfectly small belly and no stretch marks.  She shows you the pictures.  And then she tells you her story.  You are nine-hundred months pregnant, everything is swollen. Even your nose.  You pee constantly and then can’t get off the toilet.  In fact you have asked the doctor if pregnant women ever get catheters in the last trimester for the nighttime. You waddle, and are yelled at daily “Whooooa there, you are PREGNANT!” And then you meet her beautiful baby, and she tells you her story.  Labor started and she went to get a pedicure as she was timing contractions.  Then her husband drove her to the hospital and her contractions were just like little nudges from heaven.  She got to the hospital, and they checked her, and she was already dialated to 10 and so she was able to start pushing.  She pushed twice and the baby came out and everyone was crying.  Because she was SO beautiful. And the baby was pretty cute too.

The “Ala Natural-Birthing” Mom.

Labor and birthing is not a competition. But there’s ALWAYS that person who wants to make it one. She tells you in her disconnected voice about the ethereal birth experience she had, while her partner sang hymns in her ears.  She connected with her goddess spirit and the babies first cry was a battle cry of hope and honor for her not using medicine. And then I wonder if she’s enjoying something herbalish currently when she’s telling me her story… But seriously, My beautiful amazing Mother birthed all of us sans medicine…and has regretted it ever since.  Well, maybe not regreted it, but there’s no reward at the end. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; It doesn’t make you less of a Mom if you have an epidural. Or if you end up having a C Section.  I’ve done it both ways and seriously, bring on the drugs!

The “Nursing Police” Mom

I nursed my kids. I was very blessed to be able to do it.  The operative word being blessed.  I could nurse. Not everyone can. And there is nothing like engorged boobs to bring out the judgementalness in Moms.  I’ve heard of horror stories of people being ridiculed for nursing in public.  And I admit with my first I did nurse in bathroom stalls, and not in public, because he sounded like he was choking…But by the next one I comfortably plopped my boob out everywhere.  Well, I was discreet, and used a hooter-hider, because I am fairly modest…Any hooter (hee hee) I have also watched the horror of judgy moms about women who can’t nurse.  What?  Are you the lactaction police?  Are you the queen of breast milk. Some women just can’t whether its production, or let down, or it’s none of your business! The two SMARTEST people I know… my oldest sister and my husband were not breast fed.  And I have to say they cry at night because of how not bonded they are to their Moms…um no.  They are just fine.

The “Expert” Mom

She has read every book on every subject in the history of the world.  She is smarter then you.  She figured out how to make her breasts perky again just from reading about it.  She knows why your child isn’t sleeping.  She knows why they have diaper rash.  She knows why they cry like that.  And so you read these books. She says things like “No offense but…” You try her methods, and you’re pretty sure your child’s head is going to spin off from crying.  Your child is a week old.  And then you realize…You have a choice – listen to her, because she knows more than you, or figure it out for yourself.  So you promptly kick her ass, and then hold your baby because that’s why he was crying.

The “Well…my baby…” Mom

Her baby slept through the night the first night.  Rolled over when she was only two hours.  Walked earlier than yours. Teethed before yours.  Recited Shakespeare at her first birthday.  The Mom left the hospital wearing the same size she wore before she was pregnant.  Ran two miles to the hospital to have the baby, ran a half marathon the next day in a swimsuit. The baby started running the day she starting walking.  At 18 months she has read the Iliad and understands it.  Oh did I mention her Mom has already had ANOTHER baby in that time and they are also sleeping through the night? And it’s her boy…she hit the baby lottery. And guess what?! He has won America’s Next Top Baby…twice.

The list goes on an on… and they aren’t always Moms.  There’s the friendly parenting advice giver at the grocery store as your toddler throws the queen of tantrums. There’s the person who gives you fertility advice when you’ve been trying for two years.  There’s the gentlemen at the bookstore who will tells you, you actually should be teaching your child to “sign” because you’re not being affective enough as a parent.  There’s the people who gave advice to my friend Kari and me about how our labors should go, how much better a birthing center is, even though we both are bleeders and could die if not in a hospital.  There’s the people who show up, just because you’ve had a baby even though they’ve made no effort to see you in months…though I could be that person, because I love babies, so maybe it’s NOT that person.  There’s the “It was meant to be” A-Hole when you’ve lost a baby who should just be punched in the boob. There’s the Moms who have it all together, as you stand there in clothes that smell like spit up and maybe poop or cheese?   There’s the Moms who expect the village to watch their kids. There’s the people who ask when they find out you’ve adopted, “Are some of them your real children?”  There’s the Moms that everytime you say anything, tell you why their job is harder because they have 12 more kids.  And There’s the Moms that can’t believe you would think of having one more.  There’s the people that judge you if you don’t want to leave your kids with just anyone, or who judge you if still let your daughter crawl in with you at 5…because you’re tired, and she’s just so determined.

And then there’s You.

And then there’s your Baby.

Because inspite of every person who has judged and pushed their opinion on you…you are a Mother.  You are a Mother whether they came from your womb, or were born in your heart.  You are a Mother because when they cry, you are who soothes them. You feed them.  You rock and shush them at night.  You can’t remember a life where your heart wasn’t there resting in your arms as you watch them breathe.  You can remember a time when you slept, but you don’t miss it, well not THAT much.

Because here…they…are. And they are a part of you. And they are a miracle.  An absolute Gift from God.  If you hold a baby, you can’t not see the glory of God.  The glory of a small little human who yawns and squeaks. Who rests so perfectly in your arms.  Who is so helpless without you, and who needs your love.  But before them…you didn’t really know the power of great love.

So here is my only advice…  A mother of four beautiful children on earth, and one cherished angel in heaven… I have so many stories to tell, but the only advice I give is advice that is asked of me except for this:

Love your child.  Trust your instincts.  Ask for help.  Allow yourself to rest. You are already are a Great Mother.

(ps. I’m so very happy for you Meredith and Rob, and I can’t wait to meet Olivia.)