1. Babies do not come to you in your timing, and it's not so simple to have a baby.
I mean, you just stop taking a pill or whatever, right? Nope. Took us 2 years to have Ellie, and then BAM, she was 18 months old and we were pregnant with twins! NOT in my timing. Not in the least. I have several friends with the same story -- trouble having kids, having kids when they weren't exactly in their well-crafted plans, etc. The up side: we're never really ready, anyway, and we have to learn eventually that we are not in charge here. You learn that real quick when life comes at you full force.
2. It's not a given that your kids will be perfectly healthy and come right home from the hospital.
I've gotten this one out of my system already, but I can't help but reflect. I NEVER thought for a second about having kids with special medical needs. Never. Why would you? That would be pretty depressing. My boys are so fun, and I know we can handle this with a lot of prayer. But I find myself wanting to stop young couples on the street, who might be taking the idea of having a kid so lightly and say (in the sweetest and most loving way possible), "Have you ever thought, just for a minute, that you might be getting more than what you're bargaining for? That your kids will need your constant care and support beyond the normal 18 years? That what you think you want now might change dramatically once you bring that baby home? Oh, and that you might be bringing TWO of them home?" I'm sure they would listen to me and not think I was a crazy lady.
3. You will never feel like you are doing it right. You will always question yourself. And that's actually normal and ok.
For me, realizing this has been very therapeutic. Where are my kids right now, you ask? All three are behind me on the big bed watching TV and eating Cheetos. At 8 AM. Yep. Judge away, but they're happy and so am I. I try to trust the doctors, physical therapists, teachers, and whoever else gives us advice about what's best for the kids, and they do give us a lot of valuable tips. But I know my kids the best -- I have to go with my gut about what's best, what's just not a good idea for us as a family, and what they need the most. They need to feel important, strong, kind, and smart. Keeping them safe, healthy, and happy comes first, and the rest, well, we'll figure it out (I hope).
4. Your heart always feels divided, no matter where you are:
If I'm at work, part of my heart is at home.
If I'm out to eat with Chris, part of my heart is where the kids are.
If I'm at home and Chris is at work, part of my heart is with him.
If my boys are with me, but Ellie's away, part of my heart is with her.
If I'm home with the kids, part of my heart wants to be reading a good book, writing, or just being quiet.
You don't miraculously lose your need to be an individual when you have kids. Instead, I've just learned to deal with a constant ache, sort of, like I'm never fully in one piece. Of course, some days are the best of all worlds -- family time, husband time, alone time, work time -- but seriously, how often do those planets align?
5. Your ability to feel emotions goes, like, crazy off the charts, man: Times 100 once you have kids:
pride, fear, sadness, hope,
relief, love, hate, joy, disappointment,
excitement, amazement, compassion,
contentment, defeat, and of course, surprise