Sunday, April 3, 2016

If I Could Write a Letter to Me

And send it back to myself at seventeen nine months pregnant...

Around this time last year, we were busy getting ready for the arrival of our baby girl.  She had a due date of May 15th, but everyone consistently told us they thought she’d arrive early and they were right!  I told Tyler in the beginning of the month that if Ellie were to come in April, she would definitely be born on my dad’s birthday… and she was – crazy, right?  I swear she did it all on her own accord… when she was ready, she was VERY ready.  I totally wish I had that kind of predicting power with other things in my life, but so far no such luck. ;)  

 I think the thought of her coming early made me even more wish she would just get here rightthissecond.  I was big and uncomfortable, and so done being pregnant.  Sleep was becoming pretty much nonexistent (or so I thought at the time), bending over was a joke, you could clearly make out body parts when Ellie would move around inside me, and the Braxton Hicks contractions quickly started getting uncomfortable enough to wake me up at night.  Her car seat was installed, we were finishing her nursery, our bags were packed, and I had submitted my preadmission paperwork to the hospital.  I was sure I was ready for this baby to come, but obviously had no idea what I was about to experience.  From labor + delivery, to nursing + so many diapers, to the immense amount of love I was about to immediately feel for someone I had never met.  The past year has been a whirlwind of an experience and I could not be more grateful. 

With all of these birthday thoughts lately, I've been thinking a lot about how much has changed since this time last year.  While I'm positive there is nothing that could have really prepared me for motherhood, I thought it'd be cool to share some of the things I would tell my nine month pregnant self, knowing all of the things I know now.

1.)  Give yourself time to learn.  You really had no idea how to take care of a baby before Ellie was born, other than the most general of things.  You didn't take any childcare, birthing or nursing classes.  Aside from a little bit of reading, you truly went with the "go with the flow" attitude and it's going to work out just fine. You had no idea how to take care of a five month old until you had a five month old.  You won't have a clue what it's like to have a five year old until that day comes, but you'll learn just fine I'm sure, and Ellie will be right by my side teaching you.  The best way to learn how to be a mom is on the job training - no classes, books or movies are going to tell you even a fraction of the things you will learn as you experience them yourself.  Forgive yourself for any mistakes you make (and you will make a few minor ones along the way).  If you're trying your best, that's the best thing you can do.  There are so many things you'll learn in the next year and SO much more learning you still have to do. Motherhood is a journey, not a destination.  It's a lot of hard work, but guess what?  You're going to do okay. 

2.)  Being a mom requires you to be selfless. From the minute your baby is born, almost everything you do (and don't do) will revolve around her.  Your baby won't care if you really want two minutes alone to go to the bathroom, or are so tired you could fall asleep with your head in your cereal bowl.  Your baby needs you when she needs you and that's all she's really going to care about at first.  So, enjoy being able to do pretty much anything you want to do when you want to do it before she arrives (sleeping in, date nights, Target runs, and taking a shower without Ellie screaming or pulling open the shower curtain two hundred times while reaching for you + getting the entire floor soaked are all included) because your life is about to get flipped turned upside down in the best way possible.

3.)  Speaking of sleep, it's basically a thing of the past.  From nights up nursing a crying newborn who poops everywhere but her diaper, to sleep stalking her when you finally attempt to make the crib transition, the nights will often be long and often spent with two cute little ready-to-par-tay eyeballs staring up at you.  Sleep will certainly get better over time, but you will soon be amazed at how well you can function without much of it.  There will be nights when you really just wish it would be morning already, but even when you can't get twenty uninterrupted minutes of shut eye at a time, you'll survive... even if it kind of feels like a little bit of the end of the world at the time.

4.)  Keep an open mind.  There were things you swore you'd never do before having a baby that you do all the time now.  You went into it thinking breastfeeding probably wouldn't even work out, but ended up nursing for almost six months (nursing requires a lot of hard work, FYI). You never, ever thought you'd cosleep, but we all know how that worked out.  Sometimes people will give you advice (okay, all the time), and sometimes your first reaction will be to shut them out because who needs another person telling you how to be a parent?  But sometimes they have some truly helpful information to share.  So, just hear them out and maybe you'll actually benefit from it.  It's also okay to not do anything anyone else tells you to because she's your baby, it's your life and only you can decide what's best.  Just because something works well for someone, or one baby, doesn't mean it's right for everyone.

5.)  Trust your instincts.  If something doesn't feel right, it's probably because it's not.  You know the saying "moms know best"?  Well, it exists for a reason.  You might feel like "how the F am I supposed to trust my instincts when I have no clue what I'm even doing?!" at times, but I assure you it will all turn out okay if you do what you think it right for you, your baby + your family.  And if all else fails, see what your mom would do because again, moms know best!

6.) You're still you.  Just because you have a family of your own now doesn't mean you aren't still the person you were pre-baby.  It's easy to get caught up in the dirty diapers + baby talk, but be sure to make time for yourself to do other non-baby things.  Sometimes that means staying up late or waking up early to fit these things in, or it might mean having a set scheduled time for yourself as well as you and your husband (yeah, he still exists!), but that's okay.  It might not be spontaneous + crazy, but it works and you'll still get the satisfaction of doing something for yourself instead of everything for someone else.  Don't lose sight of the things you enjoy the most.  As over the moon fantastic as she is, you need things in life other than that really ridiculously cute little blob laying in your arms to be happy.  

7.)  Accept help (and ask for it if needed, too!).  You will hate watching someone else try to comfort Ellie when she's crying and could very well do it yourself, but sometimes it's nice to get a little bit of a break. And then sometimes you will only wish you could have help say, during the hours of 12-4 a.m. when you need it most and that's okay too.  Help can come in many forms and many people will be there to support you along this journey.  "It takes a village."

8.)  Your body will be different post-baby. Be patient with losing the baby weight.  It took 37 weeks to gain it all, don't be discouraged if you don't lose it all in two. You'll quickly learn to accept it because your body did something really cool and beyond worth every ounce of weight you will have to lose.

9.) Enjoy your pregnancy, you'll look back and think it flew by even if every single beached-whale-moment dragged at the time.  Those baby kicks are PRICELESS, so soak them up while Ellie's still in the belly because you will miss them pretty much as soon as she's born.

10.) Having a baby makes everything go by faster.  Enjoy every second because before you know it, you'll go from this...
to this...


You will soon miss even the hardest, most exhausting times.  Your tiny baby will not be so tiny anymore but it's okay because she's always be your baby no matter what.

11.) Your cats will still love you after your baby is born.  They'll adapt and learn to love that fur-pulling baby before you know it too... I think they love her anyway! ;)

12.) Your water will break on April 26th at approximately 6:20 a.m.  If you hurry your butt to the hospital instead of taking that shower + kissing your cats five hundred times each, you might get there early enough to get an epidural.  Spoiler alert: You don't actually make it in time for all that, but you end up doing something you never, ever thought you'd do and as crazy painful as it was, you did it!!  And you'll be one million percent willing to do it all over again to have that feeling of meeting your new baby face to face for the very first time.

13.) For as long as you can remember, you knew you'd want to be a mom one day.  What you didn't know is that being a mom is so much better than you could have ever imagined before Ellie came around.  You will feel like you found the thing you were meant to do in life when you're holding your sweet baby girl in your arms. 

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