Dear 6 Week Pregnant-Me,
Congratulations! You're pregnant-- the thing you've dreamed about for years. And yet, as you've likely noticed, the worry starts almost immediately. So as Momma-you, I figured I owed you some reassuring words.
First, seeing as how Momma-you is writing from the future, you can safely assume that this pregnancy ends with happy tears, and not sad ones. But even a letter from the future cannot prevent you from worrying about the health of your child. That's ok. Here's reality: once he gets here, the worries increase exponentially and they never end. So enjoy this sweet time. It is different from any other time and worthy of celebration. Relish every day with your baby, even when you know that the worst could happen. Even the earliest days are a gift.
Let's get some practical stuff out of the way. Remember to keep gum in your purse and in your car at all times. You will have the worst morning sickness when you're trying to brush your teeth, which will make you feel like they are never quite clean! It is gross. Get gum.
Around 30 weeks you'll devise a metaphor for what you imagine happens to parents. You'll laughingly refer to the parenting experience as "riding Space Mountain": you stand in line not knowing or seeing the ride you're about to embark, get banged around in the dark screaming, fearful, and exhilarated, and in 18 years you're deposited at the end, exhausted but missing the thrill.
One particularly hormonal night you'll even cry to your husband, "I don't want to ride Space Mountain!"
Sure, the uncertainty, drudgery, and struggle that parenthood brings to your life is overwhelming. It would be easier to continue to live with no claims on your time and finances. But don't let appearances fool you. Parenting, although it may look mostly like a chore, is the most expansive adventure you'll ever experience.
You'll get lucky and the majority of the weight will come off easily, with a few stubborn plateaus. But you could really make it easier on yourself if you wouldn't eat nutella every morning and ice cream every evening! Your current Momma weight is a little over your pre-pregnancy weight and certainly surpasses your ideal, but you'll proudly wear skinny, colorful jeans. You've earned the right to be a little curvier! Plus if you start wearing drab clothes, you'll spin into Sad Mommy territory. Don't be Sad Mom! Be Cool Mom!
At some point on this journey, you'll begin to criticize yourself harshly. You will wonder how on earth you can successfully parent a child:
I'm never content, always thinking about what I lack, rarely grateful for I have. How will I create a stable emotional environment for a baby?
I am impatient, easily distracted, and quick to frustration. I can't maintain satisfaction with my work. How will I handle the monotony of stay-at-home-parenting?
I am self-involved and pick fights with my spouse over nothing. How will I learn to love unconditionally?
Many parents will give you the old "moment I looked into my baby's eyes" speech. They'll leave you feeling that the birth experience is guaranteed to generate stores of love that last the rest of your life.
Sometimes you will fear that you are totally broken and unable to do this.
But fortunately for you those parents are lying! They are withholding the key point, which is this: the babies bring the love. With every smile and milestone, it piles on. All you have to do is funnel it, shape it, and allow it to change you.
You didn't actually think that you'd be able to do this alone, did you? No! Your baby will do it for you. So thank him. Every day.
Around 38 weeks and five days you will slip into a bleak mood. The showers will be over, you'll be on leave, and the weather will be miserable. You'll be stuck inside, too uncomfortable to keep up with basic chores or to socialize. You will spill food on you every time you eat (which is pretty regularly!) because you can't even push your seat up to the breakfast table anymore. You'll go through old pictures, saying sayonara to the freedom you once took for granted.
The good news? That night your water will break. You'll realize almost immediately that the dark mood was nothing more than the nervous energy of a woman who is about to go into labor!
The adventure will start!
I will leave the birth experience as a little surprise for you. But let me know how you are enjoying yourself. And please write back after you start trying for number two!
April Ingram Photography