Friday, November 23, 2012

A Note To A New Mom

Dear Mama-To-Be,

You have no idea what is about to happen to you.

Bear with me – this isn’t another one of those ‘just you wait’ cautionary tales. By now you are probably tired of (and possibly even extremely irritated by) all the advice you’re getting, all the snide comments about ‘what you’re in for’, and all the self-professed seasoned parenting pros who are telling you EXACTLY how your baby is going to be and exactly how you should handle all of it.

They don’t know anything. And neither do you… because babies are just like life and Forrest’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.

When I was pregnant with my first, I got all kinds of warnings and counsels. Honestly, I shrugged off most of them.
“Your life is about to change.”
“No shit,” I thought.

And I didn’t believe them when they told me I’d better get used to not sleeping. After all, the books said babies only needed to nurse every 3-4 hours and were capable of sleeping through the night at three months old. Surely, it wasn’t that bad.

Advice For a New MomThen my daughter was born, and I spent far too many nights crying right along with her while deliriously and desperately praying that I would not die from the exhaustion. I prayed that the intense anxiety I felt was not the dreaded postpartum depression, prayed that I would one day understand how people could possibly go on to have more children after enduring months like these.

So endure we did, and gradually life got easier.

BUT then my son was born. He did things by the book, we all slept, and life was good. I finally stopped believing that people who supposedly had babies who slept were liars.

So I can’t tell you how to prepare for your little one. You might sleep; you might not. You might have a hard time at first; you might be a natural. You might be scared; you might be confident.

How To Raise A ChildPerhaps you’ll be excited to show your little one off and visit as many friends as possible in those early months, or perhaps, after you get asked why you’re just now bringing the baby by, you’ll smile and say, “It’s just been a little hectic” while wanting to snarkily answer, “Gee, I’ve slept a total of ten hours in the last three weeks and am up to my elbows in spit-up and diaper changes. You tell me.”

I don’t know how your story is going to go. The best I could do is tell you about mine, and perhaps we can compare notes later on down the road.

All I know is that gradually, you will get to know that little person, and his or her presence in your life will fill your world in ways you can’t possibly imagine right now. They’re not kidding when they say it changes your life. I know there are ways that I still haven’t even discovered yet, as my children still have many more years of growing and changing to do.

My strengths and weaknesses are both more apparent. I am a more real version of myself. There is more joy in my laughter, more sorrow in my grief. I both need and receive more grace than ever before.

Yet I often look at these two little beings that I brought into this world and am blown away, completely and utterly blown away by a million tiny things that I can’t quite name.

I'm Afraid Of Being A MomBefore you lies this amazing, uncharted, wild land that is yours to explore. Sometimes the terrain is rugged and rocky. You’ll hit patches of desert. Maybe at times you’ll feel like you’re sliding down a mountain. And then you’ll come across a clearing, a river, an oasis. You’ll find yourself firmly planted on a mountaintop, your breath taken by the beauty you see below.

Your land is different from mine. Your journey may take many different turns, and although I wish I could give you all the answers that you seek, it is a journey that is yours and yours alone.

I might not be able to tell you much, but I can tell you one thing for sure, Mama – this is a journey you are privileged to take, a voyage more significant than any you’ve ever been on. 

That little soul you carry within holds so much more than I could ever begin to tell you.

So much love.

So much life, waiting to be lived.

I wish you well on your journey, my mama comrade.