Dear Formidable You,
In little more than 36 hours from now, you will be holding your daughter for the first time!
What a different experience this pregnancy has been: more physical discomfort thanks to wicked acid reflux and aching hips. Definitely more of a resemblance to a beached whale when lying down. Less anxiety about all the little internal tweaks and twinges. Less focus on what other people think and what’s…ugh…’normal’. (I have come to hate that word.) This time around, you enjoyed more confidence in your own instincts, accumulated significantly less new baby stuff, and learned that there is just no such thing as ‘balance’ when you are trying to keep up with a toddler, a demanding job, and an ever-expanding midsection.
There were some stressful days after you got back test results that indicated there might be some genetic complications. And then there was the euphoria upon receiving the next set of results that alleviated your fears.
And let’s not forget the gestational diabetes. That was fun.
From where I sit right now (in my beautiful Mama Space that that handsome husband of mine (ours) built), the end of this pregnancy is cocooned in a sense of calm that wasn’t possible with our son – entirely because this pregnancy ends with a planned c-section. With our son, we got to experience the wild ride that is labour, followed by the reality that my body just wasn’t going to cooperate, and ultimately culminated in an emergency c-section after 24 hours of trying really hard not to push (and thus risk internal damage).
With Baby Girl, we have known for many months that her birthday will be February 26 at 6:30am.
This is the calm before the storm.
But from where you sit now, this pregnancy is in the past.
You’re now in the vortex of that beautiful storm.
Because I know you better than anyone knows you, I know that you are bursting with happiness. You’re all loved up and counting your blessings, of which there are so, so many. You’re breathing in that baby girl’s sweet smell and committing every freckle, dimple, and hair to memory. You’re marveling at how small she is; how fragile yet how strong. You’ve only just met, and yet you know her like you know yourself.
Because I know you better than anyone knows you, I know that you are also feeling vulnerable and afraid. You’re working hard not to think about your fears because you don’t want anything to detract from these beautiful early days with your daughter. You remember the early days with your son, though, and as magical as they were, they were also really, really hard.
You felt completely lost.
Everything that made you who you are fell away for awhile, while life went on as normal for everyone around you.
You had everything you could possibly need and more, yet you had so many moments of anxiety, loneliness, self-doubt, and despair. All of the moms you knew seemed so relaxed and in control – even the first-time mamas. How did they do that???
You were used to being good at things. Highly organized and full of confidence. Fit. Interesting.
Where had that woman gone???
As it turns out, she was still there. You were just a little too spun out by first-time motherhood to devote much attention to her for awhile.
And now you’re afraid that the same thing is going to happen again, that the same feelings of anxiety and inadequacy will re-surface.
And here we get to the point of my letter:
It’s not going to be the exact same ride as the last time. It can’t be – you’re not the same. You’re not a first-time mama anymore. This ain’t your first rodeo. You have successfully navigated two and a half years of parenting. You know that babies will cry, and sometimes you have to just let them. You know that the frequent feedings throughout the night take a toll on you, but that they eventually come to an end and you will sleep through the night again, just as your baby will. You know that some people make a big deal about certain aspects of parenting – breastfeeding, sleeping arrangements, baby wearing, etc – but you also know that you don’t have to drink their Kool-Aid; you can decide for yourself what is right for you and your wee girl and rest easy knowing that the opinions and methods of other people don’t have to matter to you. In one ear and out the other, no hard feelings, no judgement.
You know it takes a village and that all you have to do is ask for help and you will have it.
You know your husband is an incredible dad. You know he will be there to catch you when you stumble with self-doubt. You know he is in this, with you, completely.
You know that dark days will happen, but that they are far outnumbered by days of happiness and light.
And you know that confident woman with all her ideas and interests and pursuits will be there the moment you are ready to engage with her again. Likely a lot sooner than you think this time.
You’re just a big know-it-all, you second-time mama, you.
So own it, enjoy it, relax into it, laugh at it, and love it. You got this, Mama.