A letter to my pre-baby self on my son's first birthday…
Dear Pre-Baby Me,
Sit down. You're gonna want to sit down for this one. You're about to embark on an epic journey. It will be epically amazing, epically draining, epically rewarding, epically disappointing, and epically humbling. You are about to endure the longest, shortest, most love-filled year of your life. So sit down and rest while you read this… because as they say, "rest while you can."
Just to lay it all out there for you, during this next year you will want to give up nearly every day. You will want to hide under the covers and scream into a pillow. You will cry. Oh, will you cry-tears of pain, tears of happiness, tears of you name it. You won't be the same person when you walk out of that hospital because, to be honest, both you and your child will walk out in diapers. You think you'll be the same person. You'll tell your husband that motherhood isn't going to change you. But it will.
You think making a baby will be easy. After all, you spent your whole pre-baby life trying to NOT get pregnant. You will suffer a miscarriage at 13 weeks. You'll think the world is going to end. It's doesn't end. I promise you. You'll get pregnant with your rainbow baby a few months later, and for the next 41 weeks you only think about the baby. You'll wonder if you even had other thoughts before you were pregnant.
Labor. You think it'll be like the movies. Spoiler alert! It's not. You're water will break without contractions and you will be put through 36 hours of Pitocin hell (12 of the hours without an epidural. Keep this pain in mind for your next baby and request the epidural MUCH sooner!). The doctors will tell you to push and you do-so hard and so fast, in fact, that you will give yourself a fourth degree tear. (Remember the tear the birth coach just told you VERY rarely happens? Yeah, that one.) Your son, Clark, will be put on your chest and, for a second, it truly will feel like the movies. A human that YOU grew with YOUR body is now lying on your chest. It will feel surreal and magical. But then the doctors and nurses will leave the room and the pain sets in. You will panic and wonder why the doctors didn't leave you a parenthood pamphlet when they walked out.
You will walk out of that hospital, sans parenthood pamphlet, and you'll put on your big girl pants because-let's be real-that's all that will fit for the first few months. And those first few months will be rough-real rough. Clark will cry non-stop (apparently all babies do, but you will think your baby is the only one in that moment), you'll be tired (think about how tired you were in college when you were swimming and writing your thesis and then multiply it by 1 million), you'll wonder silently if it's just the hormones or if it's something more that you're feeling, and you'll talk about poop-did he poop, when did he poop, how much did he poop-all day, every day. You will think, "what is my life?" And just as you are thinking that, you will spill the 3oz of breast milk you just spent 30 minutes pumping, on the kitchen floor. You will truly cry over spilled milk.
But then one day the fog will lift. At 10 PM on a Saturday. Your husband will be sitting on the couch watching TV and holding Clark. You will make eye contact with your baby-a gorgeous human being that you created with a gorgeous man and whom you pushed out of your gorgeous body-and Clark will smile for the first time. The love will wash over you like the water of 1,000 oceans. THIS. This was what everyone was talking about. You will feel it. All. Of. It. Everything you ever knew, felt, and cared about in this world will change in that very moment. It will be your turning point. You will be forever changed. You will be a mother.