I wish someone would have warned me about that moment when I looked down at that little stick and those faint pink lines and knew everything was going to be different. The emotions that run through you, when you realize that this life is no longer just your own. When living in the moment becomes a thing of the past, and planning for the future becomes literally everything.

I mean, I thought I knew about the cravings, but damn. The Sonic runs for ice so I could put salt and lime on top and pretend it was a margarita. The midnight Dunkin’ Donuts trips my husband made so I wouldn’t turn into the spawn of Satan and lose my shit entirely. The weird combinations of foods. It all sounds so, so good.

I never knew that heartburn could radiate through my entire body. Nor that, sometimes, even drinking water could cause my internal organs to feel like heated charcoal. Not a soul warned me. The Tums and Rolaids just didn’t cut it. Besides, there are only so many pink ones in one container. Right?

If I had known just how scared I would be to meet you. To hold something, someone so fragile… To see your little face for the first time and know you were mine. I never imagined that a set of little hands and feet could completely change my world. I didn’t know how to feel or what to do, but I wish I would have.

I wish someone would have mentioned a C-section. About how I could walk outside in the 20 degree weather and feel like I was cut open all over again. I never thought that I would need to set aside a full day to attempt to use the bathroom after vaginally delivering an almost 10 lb child. And believe me when I say, you only think you know what granny panties are in middle school.

I didn’t know how much sleep I would lose, getting up for feedings, or laying with a sick baby. Cleaning up vomit or changing diapers – so many diapers. The nights I wouldn’t rest at all because I was worried or stressed, wondering if I was good enough, wondering if I was deserving of motherhood. I was thinking you would cry that “I-need-you” cry and I wouldn’t hear you because I was in such a deep sleep from exhaustion. How did I not know?

I had no clue about the guilt – oh, the mom-guilt. The guilt of the anti-vegetable toddler. The shaming from the sanctimommy. Did I lose the weight fast enough after the baby? Did I gain too much when I was pregnant?” I bet I look so tacky right now in these yoga pants with spit up all down the front of the leg.

No one enlightened me on the variety of looks I would get during a single trip to the grocery store. When my toddler decides it’s a good time to test his vocal range. When I give in. When I look a hot mess. When I feel like having an anxiety attack because the kids are screaming in line and I can’t find my debit card. The judgment from other people is overwhelming. I never knew it could happen, but it does. Everyday.

I thought I knew relationships with people would change, but I never guessed just how many of them would disappear – out of anger, because I wanted to become a mom and they didn’t, out of boredom, because I couldn’t go out every Friday night anymore, out of sheer jealousy, because the timing wasn’t right for them yet.

It took me time to figure out that if we weren’t friends after my children, then we weren’t friends before them. The friendships that vanish into thin air always end up being a blessing in disguise. You are a better person for your children because that negativity will no longer surround you. Who wants more baggage with kids anyway?! Obviously, there are always other moms out there who can relate. Yet again, we are parents, and forming the friendship bond all over again is much harder now.

I wish I would have known how much I could love you because I knew my heart could and would, but I didn’t know it had this kind of ability. Seeing you, my little person, do all these extraordinary things and knowing I had a huge hand in creating that. It can seriously make you feel as if your heart could explode.

I was clueless about the loneliness. The days I would be awake from sun up to sun down and never have said a word to another adult. The all-nighters I had to pull with a toddler who wanted to fight sleep, just to finally lay down at 5 AM and hear the baby cry. The times I would give it all I had and then fall to the floor crying because I was so tired, and so unsettled, with what felt like no life outside of the walls of my home.

I knew about PPD, but I didn’t know the vengeance and wrath of what it actually was. How difficult it could actually be. The real brutality of anxiety, fear, sadness and guilt that could completely consume your days. Oh, how it can shadow every light and steal every moment. The things that are supposed to bring you peace and joy are destroyed by an inner demon you can’t vanquish. Clueless. I wish that fully described it.

I didn’t know I could love my spouse this much. I loved my husband before my kids, but when I saw him become a father, everything we shared together instantly lined with gold. His ability to give himself, day after day, for our children, is the most incredible thing. He has always been a wonderful husband – but I believe he was made to be a father. I didn’t know how overwhelming the happiness could be.

No one tells you because the experience is different for all of us. Motherhood is this wonderful, crazy, beautiful, chaotic thing that changes us. Knowing what someone else knows may not always be the answer. Sometimes, making our own answers works. Parenting is about taking things one day at a time.

Love your kids when they are covered in spaghetti sauce. Love them when they are singing the same song over and over, and most of all, love you enough to cut yourself a break when you make a mistake.

I will tell you the only thing that will prepare you for Motherhood. Don’t try to be perfect. Do the best you can. You may not have known the ups and downs of parenting before, but be so grateful and thankful that you do now. This is a fortune, a wheel of the world that keeps on turning. Mistakes are allowed, do-overs are always an option, and sticky hands and dirty fingernails are a sign of happy kids. We may not always know it all from the start, but when we finally figure it out, man, are we unstoppable.