Dear first time mom,
I was hoping we could chat. I noticed how tired you look, & after our conversation about how difficult many things are about new motherhood, it got me reflecting, as I often do these days.
I remember my first pregnancy, & my second, even, my third & fourth often as times of dread. I dreaded the morning sickness, the widening hips, the fuller face, the ever growing belly that seemed to get in the way.
Pregnancy has never been easy for me, but I think with this fifth, I finally got something right. Or rather, I now have a bit more experience and perspective under my belt and I’ve learned a few things. I was hoping I could share with you.
1) Pregnancy is a temporary state.
It doesn’t last forever.
2) Infancy is a (very) temporary state.
It also doesn’t last forever. (& neither do those sleep broken nights–it will return to “normal” someday in the not so distant future.)
3) Your weight will fluctuate. You will gain, you will lose. And it doesn’t matter.
With this pregnancy, I can step out of the shower, look at my naked body, a growing child under that swollen belly, and finally think, you are gorgeous! (I wish I had realized this sooner.) I had never thought that before with prior pregnancies, & it makes me a little sad. Why has it taken me so long to realize the beauty & miracle of creating life?
4) It gets better. So much better.
I think the hardest time in a woman’s earlier adult/mid-adult years is the transition to motherhood. In my experience, mothering was never more challenging than when I had my first two babies–they were only 15 months apart. I was inexperienced, young, though full of energy & good intentions, which were my saving graces.
I often found myself wondering: “how do moms do it with more than 2 kids?” I’ll tell you how–because I’ve discovered the secret–kids get older! They become more independent & helpful with each year, lightening your load. When you have one or two or three little ones under 5, you have very little help. Everything is on you. Believe me, I know.
But then a magical thing happens. They grow. They mature. They learn how to help, and they can even provide interesting/funny/entertaining conversation beyond just coo-ing or gibberish. It’s amazing to watch another human being flower before your eyes & think: I was responsible for this.
5) I was always envious of those women who “just loved” pregnancy.
What?! Was I missing something? I hated nearly every bit of it. I wanted it to be over with asap.
But now, this pregnancy is different. I have some of the fruits of my labors before me–I see what pregnancy is. What it really is. It’s not puffy ankles & unwanted weight gain. It’s the ultimate creative act. It’s the beginning of a life–a little human being that is unique in every way. The making of a little person who will someday grow into a big person who will make you feel things you never thought you could feel–a variety of empathy and love, that in order to fully comprehend, must be felt and cannot be adequately defined with words.
With each child, your heart grows, & you realize that love, is exponential. There are no limits, and having that knowledge, of experiencing it, is an incredibly empowering thing.
I know things are hard. But I hope in sharing this with you, you can realize what I have, but much sooner. Maybe every woman needs to come to these things in her own time, on her own terms. But, what I know is this: the power you have to create another human being is a blessing, not a burden. If only I’d known that sooner.