A Letter To Myself (when I was pregnant with my first)
Dear First Time Pregnant Me,
No matter what you choose to believe, your whole life is about to be flipped upside-down. That tiny little human, inhabiting your body and your every thought, is going to change you. That is just a fact.
You have been reading, researching, and studying every book, blog, and website related to pregnancy, labour, and child rearing. By all means, take comfort in the knowledge you are gaining, but know that there is no magic answer. Life is about to get real and if it were easy then there would not be so much conflicting information out there in the first place. If there really was a correct way to parent, you would know about it. Babies are all different and you will figure out what your child needs when the time comes. There is no substitute for your instinct and intuition. Trust in yourself because these attributes are what will carry you through the next year of your life.
Stop worrying about the small stuff. It’s all small stuff. You are spending far too much time stressing about insignificant details. You are overthinking what bottles to get, what colour the nursery should be, and if you are going to poop while giving birth. These minor details are going to seem inconsequential in a very short time. Not long from now, the worry for your child will be so overwhelmingly debilitating that all of the pre-baby worries will seem irrelevant. You will worry about how much she eats, how much she sleeps, and how much she poops. You will worry about every bump and bruise. You will worry about her milestones, her health, and her future. You will worry about things you didn’t even know you could worry about. So, instead, go on some dates with your husband, get yourself a manicure or pedicure, and take a God damned nap!
You are about to go on a year-long search. A search for balance. A search for routine. A search for time for yourself. A search for some form of normal. And a search for mom friends to commiserate with on the turbulent journey that is first-time motherhood. Some of these things you will find with ease while some of them will be a constant quest. Understand that finding these particular things doesn’t mean that you can’t lose them again. But take comfort in knowing that you will find exactly what you need exactly when you need it.
You have a few things to learn. Things to learn that have nothing to do with raising a baby. You need to learn to ask for help when you need it. Strength doesn’t mean doing it all on your own. Strength is knowing what you need and having the courage to ask for it. You also need to learn to let things go. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to have some pretty tempestuous, chaotic days and if you think for a minute that it’s all going to go to plan, you are in for a big surprise. The house won’t always be clean and a home cooked meal won’t always be made. Your schedule and timeline will be altered. Let it go. Learn to give yourself grace. You can be your own worst enemy; your toughest critic. Parenting is hard, emotionally exhausting, and stressful. Perfection is not possible, so find room to forgive yourself. And every once in a while it wouldn’t hurt for you to be proud of the job you are doing. I know it will be hard because you are you, and you are your own harshest critic, but take time to acknowledge even the smallest successes; they will be the markers that keep you going on your path of raising good humans.
Raising a child means that there is constant motion. Your life will be in a continuous state of transition. So when things get hard and you question your sanity, know that even the worst of times end. Just when you find some state of calm, that too will be knocked off balance and a new phase of life will take over. Accept change because change is now the new normal.
Lastly, prepare yourself for more love than you ever could have imagined. Don’t ever worry about not loving your child enough - that part will be easier than anything you’ve ever done. Take too many photos and hit the record button every chance you get. Before you know it, you’ll have a 4-year-old and an 18-month-old and you won’t even know where the time went.