The moment you share that you’re expecting a child, everyone becomes a parenthood expert. People you’ve never talked to before come out of the woodworks with “extremely important” information that your little one could NEVER survive without. As a first-time mom, you do your best to soak in the madness and prepare for what you can prepare for!

By the time you’re hospital ready, you’ve already done way more prepping than you needed to. Baby’s nursery is spotless, the diaper bag is packed, crib’s set up, you have bottles on deck and a million onesies are washed & folded. In the off chance that your kid pops out ready to walk, you even have rows of shoes (they’ll never wear) in their closet, ready for action. We’re all guilty of it. Something in a mother’s DNA just doesn’t allow her to “play it cool” when getting ready to have a baby.

You anticipate the immense love you’ll feel for this little human and try to wrap your mind around actually caring for someone that much?! You imagine their first word, first steps and their first day of school.  You expect that at some point, your child will mess up. They’ll wet the bed, spill juice on the brand new sofa and throw a tantrum in public while everyone stares. They’ll fall off their bike and run to you, expecting one of those magical kisses you keep stored up for ‘boo-boos’ that only mommy can fix. They’ll wipe their nose on your shirt like you’re a napkin and they’ll believe coloring on the walls with the crayons you bought them is considered art. How are you supposed to get mad at their work when all they wanted to do was “draw mommy a pitcher!” Yeah, right.
From the moment I saw two lines on that pregnancy test, I’d been preparing. Mentally and emotionally preparing myself to be a mother, my husband to be a father and our unit to be a family. Through all of the tips and tricks I received regarding my son and becoming a parent, no one prepared me for the amount of support I would need, day in and day out.

And they sure didn’t tell me I would find it on Instagram of all places?!

Once you pop out a kid, it’s like a newsletter goes out to every mother on the planet. They will find you, and they will love your child just as much as you do. Don’t let these women go. When they say “it takes a village” to raise a baby they aren’t kidding. I found my village not long after I gave birth to my son, Mikah.
It started off with a few moms reaching out when I would ask for advice via social media. These women quickly became a part of my tribe when I realized just how much I needed them to lean on. When you have a baby your entire world is flipped upside down and you have about 30 seconds to adjust to it. I was overwhelmed my first few months of motherhood; I suffered from postpartum depression and couldn’t figure out how to get through my days without feeling like I was completely drowning. I spent about two months thinking something was wrong with me. I didn’t feel the way everyone said I would and I wasn’t dizzy with this crazy love everyone said I would feel. I hated my body, I was furious with my stretch marks and baby weight that wouldn’t go away. At the end of the day, even with family surrounding me, I felt alone. No amount of help was enough to get me out of my own head, and it wasn’t until I stumbled across a group of women who understood what I was going through, that I didn’t feel like I had to get through it by myself. From there, it was a sisterhood.
Nowadays, social media can carry a terrible reputation. Non-stop highlight reels, photoshopped images and frappuccino pictures can get annoying to scroll through. But, if you can get past that, the community that it allows us to be apart of is truly incredible. The amazing women and badass mamas I’ve come across have changed the entire game for me. They have taught me to love myself for who I am, the good the bad and the ugly, and to take it easy. As a mama, you always need to be reminded to relax. I no longer hide my struggles, I own them. I no longer hate my stretch marks, I love them. I no longer compare myself to another woman’s journey, but instead, support the hell out of her. I no longer feel alone, I have my girls.
Regardless of what happens throughout this crazy journey we call parenthood, I find peace in knowing that there is a community of amazing women out there that have my back. No matter what. A support system this strong is something you don’t see everyday.

For that, I am so thankful.

Ariana Carter