To The Mother I Thought I'd Be:

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This time last year, I was anxious, anticipating, and well, uncomfortable.
I was stuck between waiting for a babe to come, and wanting to savor every last minute of the two of us. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Looking back, a year later, with a ten month old snuggled in my arms, I thought I’d write to her. I thought I’d tell her, gently and softly- the pain, the beauty and the overwhelming love she’d experience the first year of being a mother.

To you, sweet mama-to-be, staring at the ceiling, holding your quaking belly in the middle of the night, watching the hours and seconds and minutes go by until she comes, I see you. I know your fears, your love, and your pain. I know the way your back aches and your stomach heaves. I know the sheer joy you have when you find something adorable for her at the store, and I know you carry it all in you.

Dear mama, it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to not know.
It’s okay to go in expecting a full, real, vaginal birth, and leave with c-section scar. To be in a hospital for days on end, while the sun shines and your sweet babe sleeps. To not be able to stand without assistance, to lift yourself. Be open to this possibility- because being open makes the fear dissolve and your babe come quicker into your arms.

Be so, so so forgiving to yourself. Your body still droops and you haven’t lost an ounce of that baby weight. But she holds onto you. She looks at you with love. Be slow. Be so gentle. The things you’ll say to yourself are cruel and I just wish you could see the incredible, sacrificing woman you are.

Forget about the expectations- the sleep schedules, the work routines, the friendships and the breastfeeding and the order. If she’s breathing and smiling and eating, you’re doing enough. Everything else will fall into place.

Your friendships will change. You don’t have to fight it or doubt yourself or your value. You don’t have to exhaust yourself trying to maintain them. The ones who love you will be there and be understanding when you are overwhelmed with the life you have. They’ll call you and love on your babe. And some won’t be able to- some might pull away. And that’s okay. Have grace and don’t let this define you. Let love blossom where it will.

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Dear mama, let yourself fall deeper in love. Don’t let it starve. Go on those dates. I know you’re tired, and exhausted, and feel stuck sometimes- but work to look into your husbands eyes and see the incredible, selfless man he is. Let him hold you. Don’t let your pride keep your from constantly turning to him. Let him take care of you. And get AWAY with him. See him as the best friend he is.

Let yourself fall closer to God. This is so, so hard. You can’t have a moment to yourself, but breathe His love in. Commune with him- through music, talks, discussions with friends. Serve others. Let God carry you when you can’t carry yourself.

You’re going to be lonely. You’re going to feel like no one relates to you. You’ll turn to books and food for escapes rather than others. Keep. Reaching. Out. Keep trying. And keep looking at her. See that sweet babe? I know you’ve read her 5 books and it’s only been 10 minutes. Get out and explore with her.

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Glow in the dark binkies are your best friend. Buy a million.
If breastfeeding doesn’t work out (which it won’t, because Adelaide will refuse you after 5 months) just roll with it. Thank her for the time you had with that sweet moment, and look forward to new ones and more freedom. You did enough. I promise.

You’re going to get used to listening to Simple Songs. It’ll rule your life. Sorry. Listen to real people music while you can.

Your greatest victories will be her standing, her laughing, and her smiling. Her games, her eating food, and the sleepy smile she gives you in the mornings. Remember them. And remember in the hard times that more of these are to come.

Most of all mama, hold on. Hard times will crash around you, but there is so much joy in being a mom. In the incredible, unique relationship you’ll have with her. I’m so excited for you and the amazing year you’re going to have.

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Celine Reese