Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Letter to Me

**To be read at 3 a.m. in 10-12 weeks**

Dear Lilee,

You did it. You had a baby.

You still don't believe it, do you? Despite the fact that the sweet child with your blue eyes and Bobby's adorable, upturned nose is in your arms (screaming?) right now, you still can't believe it's happening. That's YOUR baby. You have the bleeding, torn up lady bits to prove it. I mean, of course you tore, right? Like a tenth degree tear. Worst the hospital has ever seen. You like to hold records like that, and you seem to be pretty good at it. Don't worry - you can use it against the kid when they're being a snotty 15-year-old..."After 90 hours of labor...do you even know what you did to my vagina!?"

Or maybe you're balancing the baby a bit precariously, trying to avoid putting pressure on your C-section incision. The C-section you fought so hard to avoid, but someone talked you into it because you weren't progressing fast enough. Or because even at 40+ weeks this kid refused to dislodge its head from your ribcage. I know you feel guilty that you didn't get to have a "natural" delivery. You don't even want to feel guilty, but you do anyway. Like your body failed you, once again. Like you just weren't strong enough. If you could have just pushed for another hour...If you'd gone to a chiropractor, or for acupuncture...If you had just taken the epidural earlier...If...If...If.... You can feel sad about it now - it's okay. You can feel guilty. You're allowed to feel however you want. On this cool, spring night, alone in the dark in this nursery with your baby, let yourself feel it all. Eventually these feelings will fade and you won't care at all how this baby came into the world. You don't look that good in a bikini anyway.

I know you're tired. You're sick of breastfeeding already. Maybe baby isn't latching so well, or your nipples feel engulfed in molten lava...or maybe you even gave it up all together after only two days. Don't worry about it. I guarantee the kid is getting enough to eat. Bobby and mom and everyone else are not going to let it starve. You did your best. Before you try to refute that and start on the "if" game again, just stop. I know you. You don't half-ass anything. I know you dove into breastfeeding face first and gave it all you had. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't. But you tried. Whatever delivery system you're using to get this kid milk is still letting you bond. Look at that sleepy, happy face. You'll bond over your love of reading or Bon Iver or hockey. When was the last time you bonded with mom over your love of eating from her boobs? Gross, right? The kid will get over it.

I'm going to say something hard here, something you're pretending you don't feel, but I know you do. You're wondering if you've made the biggest mistake of your life. You're hiding it; you're throwing yourself into motherhood--all in, because that's what you do--but you have doubts. Sometimes you miss the nights on the couch watching the Wild with Bobby. You curled under his arm, face resting on his chest. You miss your chaotic morning "routine" that was really anything but a routine. You miss eating out on a whim, going for frozen yogurt at midnight, and sleeping til noon on Saturdays.

You know your life isn't over. You know you'll do those things again - despite what other parents tried to scare you with when you're pregnant.

But still, you have those feelings. They creep in like the morning light through the crack in the blinds.

Sometimes you wish you weren't a mom.

And the instant you have that inkling of a thought, you hate yourself. You hate yourself because it took you so damn long to become a mom. That for two straight years it was the only thing you hoped for, wished for, thought about. You hate yourself because of your infertile friends, and how they would do absolutely anything to be in your place right now, holding this tiny baby. They would have taken pregnancy in stride, instead of complaining about it like you did. They would have signed up for the prenatal classes. They would have been better at giving birth. They could have breastfed their baby...

Remember what grandma told you all those years ago about grief and sadness? That for just a little bit - a few minutes, maybe an hour - let yourself feel it all. Feel every painful inch of that grief. Don't keep pushing down that bit of gnawing - face it: experience it. Jump in the shower where no one can hear or see you. Cry. Scream. Say bad words. Hate everyone and everything. And then, you let it all wash down the drain. You let it go. You're done. You get out of the shower and you deal with life.

So do it. Put the baby down tomorrow morning. Even if it cries and screams for a while - it'll be okay. Put it in that chair thing. Or the swing. Ten minutes of crying is not going to damage it for life - it might save yours.

No, your life is not over. You will still see your friends. You will play volleyball again. You will have a meaningful job. You will sleep in til noon. Don't let people scare you when they tell you you'll never do anything for yourself again. That's not you, and you're going to do this mom thing your own way.

One thing is true: your life will never be the same. The old, comfortable days are gone. Those were really great times, and you were blessed to have five years of them - just you and Bobby. But these will be good times too.

Just look at that baby. Sure, it resembles Wallace Shawn more than either you or Bobby. But this is it. Don't miss out on this moment. Don't worry about taking a photo or writing something in the baby book you haven't even removed from the cellophane. Just be here. Be present. And be here again in two hours. And again after that.

You can do this, Lilee. You have a baby.

5 comments:

  1. I love this and will be a great reminder during those rough moments.

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  2. I think I might need to write one of these for myself. If I didn't think it would just end up making me cry harder, that is.

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  3. You definitely will have some of these moments. Having a newborn is HARD, but also incredibly worth it! I love your grandma's advice of taking a shower and letting it all out to rinse down the drain. I always told my softball girls it was okay to have a pity party, but you must put a time limit on it. That thought applies to life and not just sports. I love the analogy of having that pity party in the shower and washing it all away.

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