To preface, I wanted to write a letter to myself when I was really out of my element – after having my first child. I was full of feelings, both good and bad. I wanted to look back (now that I’m out of such a tumultuous time) to reflect on what I went through and give my postpartum self a little pep talk. Here goes!
Congrats! You’ve just had baby Q and you’re so happy. Right? Now what? I know you’re not prepared to be a mom. Who the hell is? Being the first out of your friends to have kids is tough because it would be nice to have someone to lean on. But let’s be real. You know people who have kids and they have no time to endlessly answer your questions. They are busy, just like you are going to be busy.
You spent an obscene amount of time stressing about labor because you thought it would hurt so bad but you never really thought about what happens after she came out. L&D was just the beginning, babe. Why stress about possibly pooping on the baby during labor, or throwing up in front of a room full of people when you needed to have a c-section. The nurses didn’t even bat an eye. The epidural was amazing though amirite? Maybe not afterward when you needed to pee and had a breakdown in the bathroom, but you did it. A #1 and a #2. Check and Check. Don’t forget those stool softeners. You’re going to meet people who have had a 4th degree perineal tear so be grateful you don’t have to sit on a donut pillow recovering for weeks. Perspective right? Postpartum is no joke and the feelings will send you for a good spin in the next few months. Stay positive and ask for all the help! G is such a good partner and will help however he can. You’re so amazing. You made a human. Love on her and take it easy on yourself. You’ll figure it all out given time.
The first month is a dream. Not because it’s great, but because you won’t know when you’re awake or asleep. Let’s face it. You won’t sleep. Part of being a new mom is that you’re in survival mode. You’re a zombie with messy hair and giant milk filled boobs (and by giant, I mean a “please don’t even touch them” B cup), ready at a moments notice to leak everywhere because you hear Q crying. I know living with mom and dad wasn’t ideal, but they were so helpful (a luxury you won’t have for baby B). Mom will be there for you at 2am when you’ve had enough and just need to sleep. Dad will watch Q in the swing while you eat all the traditional Chinese post baby food and shower. G will be there especially for bath time because you just don’t find any joy in it (and that’s ok, we can’t love everything about being a parent). Together you will spend countless minutes just staring at this magical child in your life.
The 2nd month though? It will be your toughest. You get to move into your dream house that’s just been built but that means you’re alone with Q all day now. G will be back to work. Your mantra is pretty simple, “Please just keep the baby alive.” When you sit in the closet and cry because you’re overwhelmed, ask for help. People are so willing to help and sometimes it really takes a village. Everything is hard…until one day, it’s not. The hardest phase has magically passed!
So let’s talk about your new friends: those angry red tiger stripes and your floppy belly flap. The tiger stripes will fade and stop itching. The expensive cream you put on probably helped? Who really knows but it made you feel like you were taking care of it, so slather it on. I’m glad you never dwelled on those battle scars. It never made you less beautiful. Instead, the focus was always the belly flap and it will bother you the most. All of a sudden yoga pants and elasticized waists become a thing. Mom jeans are understood on a whole new level. The obsession is slightly wasted. Instead of DOING something about it, like going to the gym, or changing to clean eating habits, you will choose to spend your time making giant meals for your family and spend the money on paying for kid activities. Priorities change and you’ll make peace with it. For now the sacrifices are worth it. Maybe one day self care will include the odd work out and it will feel damn good.
What didn’t feel good? Letting friendships slide. You may grow apart from some friends who you thought would be around for life. Naturally, you’ll want to talk about baby stuff all the time but maybe they don’t relate anymore. Some friends can’t understand that you can’t drudge up the energy to dress up and go to the bar til 2am so they move on with other friends. It happens. Hopefully one day you’ll be able to reconnect but some people are in your life for a season/reason and that’s perfectly ok. Instead, you’ll start expanding your circle and meet people you have more in common with. Mom friends. A circle of trusted girls who have your back, who can tell if it’s an ear infection (and yes take them to the Dr.) and make you laugh until you pee your pants…because that happens too.
Parenting is so interesting. You raise your kids how you were raised. It’s programmed into us. You appreciate your parents on a whole new level and understand that they were doing their best with what they had and what they knew. Can you drop any lingering disappointments and look forward to doing things for Q that mom and dad couldn’t/wouldn’t do for you? G has different ideas on how to parent as well, so forge a new path together. It won’t be easy. It’s kinda terrifying but you’re in this ride together, and at the end of it, you should be able to look back and say, “I’m proud and I did my best”.
Love you. M.