This past year has been a whirlwind. Luca just turned one last month and I find myself thinking every day, “Where has the time gone!?” I have learned so much this past year (and I still have SO MUCH to learn) and thought it would be fun to write my “pre-mama” self a letter. And who knows, maybe it will also be helpful to you!
A Letter to Me before You
Dear “Pre-Mama” Christine,
It’s 2019 and I am one year into motherhood. I have some things I’d like to share to help ease your transition and validate your feelings. This is going to be the hardest thing you ever do. I know everyone always says that but no one can really prepare you for what’s about to come. There are multiple, complex levels and layers to motherhood and it is definitely not a one-size-fits-all. You really will experience your own, unique version of it.
Let’s start at the beginning. Trying to conceive can be a very “trying” process. On you, on your partner, on your relationships, on your friendships. You will go to very dark places at times and seeing pregnancy and birth announcements will make it that much worse. Just know your time will come, and yes that’s easy for me to say now, but I truly believe in destiny. Without going through your TTC journey you would not have Luca. And he is worth every negative pregnancy test, every period that came and destroyed your morale and every moment you felt like giving up.
“It will take you eight months to conceive. You will lose that baby..”
It will take you eight months to conceive. You will lose that baby and it will be one of the hardest things you will ever experience in your life. After all that time of trying, you will breathe a sigh of relief. You will revel in the excitement of FINALLY being pregnant, telling your friends and family, only to have to call them a week later to tell them there is no more baby. It will crush you. You will feel utterly hopeless. You will ask, “What is wrong with me?” There is nothing wrong with you. Let yourself grieve and feel the feelings. Mourn for this life and keep on going. All hope is not lost! Luckily you have a strong support system of family and friends and they will help you get through this, LEAN ON THEM. And keep going.
When you get pregnant for the second time you won’t feel the excitement. You will feel fear. You won’t let yourself become attached or even think about holding this baby in your arms one day. You know all too well that dream could be ripped from you in a heartbeat and you can’t bear the pain again. It’s ok. You will be terrified to go to the bathroom in fear of seeing blood just like the last time. It’s ok. Just take it day by day. Pregnancy after miscarriage is very different than pregnancy without that experience. Only women who have been through it before will understand so again I urge you to lean on them!
“You WILL start to love your new body.”
You will feel gratitude and joy but you will still not let yourself be excited. The first two trimesters are going to be rough: self-doubt, exhaustion, morning sickness (which is ALL DAY sickness in reality), fear. But you will get through it and you will start to love your new body. The body that is growing life, a miracle right before your eyes. You’ve never felt more beautiful in your entire life and you will finally allow yourself to envision being a mother.
Birth is a natural process for women, your body was made to do this. That will be your mantra going into your labor and the birth of your baby. Those words and that general feeling will get you through a harrowing 36-hour labor and emergency c-section. Just because your baby was born via your belly does not make you any less of a mother. I WILL REPEAT. The way in which your baby enters this world does not determine your worth as a woman or mother!
“No, this is not what you thought your first few days/weeks/months of motherhood would look like..”
Recovery will test you. Mentally, emotionally, physically. This is not what you thought your first few days/weeks/months of motherhood would look like. But this is reality. It’s ugly, it’s emotional, it’s messy. Lean on your husband (physically and figuratively) and your family for help. Take breaks when you can and don’t lose yourself! You are still YOU.
It’s ok if you don’t immediately bond with your baby, it takes time but it WILL happen. The first few months with a newborn are rough though. No sleep (but actually, NO SLEEP) and there’s no way to prepare for this, I am sorry. Just know you will sleep again eventually. Luca will be colicky, which is something will test your character and make you question if you are really cut out for motherhood. You are. YOU ARE EXACTLY WHAT YOUR BABY NEEDS! And don’t ever forget it.
“Succumb to the new status of hot-mess that is your life.”
You’re going to go through a lot of shit and it’s going to be a little while before you see the light. Just know this is all NORMAL. Everyone goes through it, you’re about to ride the insane rollercoaster of motherhood. You’ll feel happy one second and cry from that, you’ll feel sad the next second and cry some more, you’ll feel guilty for wanting to leave him for 10 minutes and then you won’t be able to leave because you want to spend every second with him. It’s the craziest ride of your life.
And no matter how glorious early motherhood might look on social media accounts, they’re all going through the same messy newborn crap. It’s freaking ROUGH and it will take a long time to feel like yourself again. Just succumb to the new status of hot-mess that is your life. You’ll never feel like you have your shit together again. Welcome to the cyclical backlog of work, housework, and other “life” stuff. You’ll never feel “caught up” again. Anyone who says they do have their shit together? They’re liars, don’t trust them. We are ALL hot messes, all day every day!
“Do what works for you and do it unapologetically!”
No matter how much unsolicited advice is thrown your way (of which there will be a ton, just politely nod and change the subject), don’t ever forget that you are exactly what your baby needs. You are his home and you’ll get through this together. Trust your instincts. Don’t ever feel bad about your decisions, you know what’s best for your baby and family. Don’t apologize. Do what works for you. Cosleeping? Great! Nursing to sleep? Fantastic! Feeding purees? Doing BLW? Sleep training? Formula feeding? Breastfeeding? AMAZING! Again, do what works for you and do it unapologetically!
Babies don’t keep. Snuggle that baby as much as you want for as long as you can, one day you’ll wake up to them going off to college.
“Being a stay-at-home-mom is NOT easy. It’s really freaking hard.”
Lastly, I hate to break it to you, but being a stay-at-home-mom is NOT easy. It’s really freaking hard. I have been in it for one year now and it’s still hard. I love being with my baby 24/7 and watching him grow, learn and develop every day but you need breaks. Please take breaks and do not feel guilty! Go get your nails done or go get drinks with the girls, your baby will be waiting for you when you come home. He will be in good hands while you’re gone and you will feel refreshed and renewed. If you do not take these breaks you will only feel continually disgruntled and annoyed, and that pent-up emotion isn’t good for anyone!
Give yourself grace. Give yourself grace in all the aspects of your life. This is the biggest transition you will go through and it will take time to figure out your new “normal.” Give your body grace and love that body. It has not only grown and birthed a tiny human but fully sustained it (almost exclusively) by breastfeeding for 13 months and going strong. Be proud of what you can do and be confident in your decisions.
Stay strong and trust your instincts. You got this!
Love, New-Mama Christine
Check out my friends and their “A Letter to Me Before You” posts!