A Letter to Postpartum Me

Dear Me,

If you are reading this, it means that you’ve just had another baby a few days ago. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are. Apparently you have reconciled yourself with the idea of not paying off your own student loans until you reach retirement age. Somehow, though, that new baby smell that’s just as impossible to artificially duplicate as breastmilk makes it worth it.

You likely feel right now like you’ve made a ridiculous decision to bring another baby into the fold. You’re lying in bed and listening to the tiny newborn in the other room scream its head off. The idea of your mom or your mother-in-law traveling back to their homes and leaving you with the baby all day by yourself is terrifying. You know you have done this before with Miss C, but the lessons you learned from her first days just don’t seem to apply now. This new baby is louder, angrier, scarier. You want to return it to the hospital; they give refunds, right? It scares you and makes you want to cry again for even having these thoughts.

B is tending to the baby right now because you just can’t handle that seemingly endless wail. The fact that he doesn’t feel so spiteful about the screeching baby is just making you feel worse. He’s a better mom than you and you are angry at him for it.

Here’s the thing, though: B didn’t just push a kid out; therefore, his hormone levels aren’t wackadoo right now. He didn’t host the kid in his uterus for the past ten months and then push it out, thus suffering a severe hormonal fluctuation in the space of only a couple days. He hasn’t been staying up all night long feeding the tiny little guy or gal for the past week. Sure, he’s sleep-deprived, but not nearly as much as you.

So let him be the mommy for a few minutes.

You can get through this. You will get through this, even if you don’t try.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. You and your new baby are on your very own time table. You are going to come to adore every aspect of this new person in due time. You are allowed to cry, and doing so does not make you an unfit parent. Go ahead, have an ugly cry. Get it out of your system.

Don’t compare the new baby to Miss C. C was C, and this new one is his or her own little person. If s/he’s crying all the time, don’t take it personally. Know that you are already doing every single thing you can to give that baby what s/he needs. Whether s/he knows it or not – whether you know it or not – you already love her more profoundly than you can possibly imagine.

Everyone is telling you to treasure this time because it goes by fast. Honestly, you want to punch the wall every time you hear this. You just want to fast-forward to the “good stuff”: when she smiles, coos, sits up and behaves like a human. But I’m just going to join the clammer and tell you to treasure this time, too. It really is precious. I promise.

That is, in hindsight.

In only a few weeks, little guy or gal is going to start literally lighting up. Hear that? In only a few weeks! And you will sleep again. It may not be for awhile, but you will. I promise.

You can do this.

No, really. YOU CAN.

Hearts,

Emily

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34 comments

  1. I love this so, so much! This is an amazing letter and I wish I had this to read after bringing Carter home. I had lots of very ugly cries, felt miserable, lost, and angry all at the same time. But I did do it, somehow we all got through it and thrived. So shall you, so shall you.

    Hugs.

    1. Man, when I brought Miss C home, I really doubted whether I’d be able to handle the whole parenting thing. You can just never be prepared! But it boggles my mind how far we’ve come since she entered the world eleven weeks ago. We’re sleeping, having fun, and sincerely enjoying every little move she makes. Everyone said at the time that things would get easier, but I didn’t believe them at all. But it’s so true! It DOES get easier!

  2. The second baby is easier, even if they have a more difficult personality. By then you realize that no one is perfect, and it’s possible to make mistakes and still be a good parent. Hang in there!

    1. I always love the idea that by the time you’re on your third or fourth kid, you’re signing them up for net-less trapeze or knife-juggling classes. :)

      1. It’s just less terrifying overall. For real.

  3. This is exactly how I felt after giving birth! Awesome letter.

    1. Thanks! I just had to write it because I’m so stubborn that I often don’t listen to other’s advice, so I thought I might listen to my own advice.

  4. I felt, just now, that that letter was written to ME! Motherhood. Crazy!

    1. I was probably subconsciously thinking of you and the rest of our little WordPress “birthing club” when I wrote it ;)

  5. I plan on printing this out and putting it in the pocket of my postpartum pants to reread in November, when I am crying as loud as my newborn baby girl #2.

    1. Awww, I hope you find some consolation in it! There were definitely some times when C and I were crying at the same time and I felt as helpless as she really was, yet things do get better ;)

  6. Those days are many years ago for me, but I remember them as if they were yesterday. I always felt it took at least 6-8 weeks to even feel human again. Right about the time those little wonders start smiling spontaneously. And you are so right about that wonderful baby smell. :)

    1. It’s amazing how those little smiles start to surface right when you think you can’t take it anymore. Thank God those milestones come right when we need them most!

  7. Precious, yes. Easy, no. I don’t have a whole lot of fond memories until my little guy rolled over. Then, he began to be a person to me, not just a really cute leech.

    1. B and I both admitted to each other recently that we wouldn’t relive C’s first week at home for anything. It was just so amazingly rough. Four days after she was born, I awoke from a nap sweating bullets but freezing cold. I started shivering violently and couldn’t stop for several minutes. It was just so scary and bizarre. C was just this little being. Now, like you said, she’s a PERSON. She reacts when we enter the room and babbles back when we talk to her. I’ll take that any day.

  8. PaulaH · · Reply

    Wow, thank you so much for being so vulnerable and honest and downright funny. I’m so following your blog!

    1. Thank you! Welcome to the circus ;)

  9. Oh, man. I can’t imagine two small things relying on me for existence. When you do have the second one, tack this up on the fridge.

    1. LOL, I try not to think about it too much. It freaks me out just having the one. Somehow, though, it all works out.

  10. I know you wrote this to you, but I’m gonna steal this and read it in a few weeks. Well, except for the “you’re a good mommy” part. And the “you’re full of hormones” part. But I think I can focus on the rest of it. We all need a cheerleader, even if that cheerleader isn’t actually cheering for you, per se.

    1. I’ll get B to write you a letter. I think he’d have something to say about the thrills of having a crying baby AND wife :)

  11. Hi! This is a great entry. Congratulations on your new kid! You seem to have done well on your first child, I’m sure you will be great as well on your second.

    1. Thank you! We’ll see on the second kiddo ;)

  12. Yes & yes & yes. From one new mommy to another it is good to admit that it is hard & that we have she’d tears right alongside the baby & that it will all get better. I have to admit as hard as it is I am enjoying his baby ness.

    1. I’m enjoying her babyhood now that there’s some semblance of order to it. When they get into a predictable routine, things become soooo much easier. Of course, we are going on vacation for a week and a half on Saturday so order and routine will be thrown out the window.

      1. Oh wow – vacation! Good for you. Best of luck with the little one on vacay. I hope it does not throw the routine too out of whack.

  13. Wow! You amaze me, Emily! That was beautiful.

    1. Thanks, LB! Right back at you!

  14. Such honest blog posts are refreshing. Thank you and keep up the awesome work.

    1. Thanks! Will do! :)

  15. even i .have a nephew. he is 18 months now. I have seen him growing..and really it’s even easier now to manage him…spotting him running around is such a pleasure :)

    1. They become such a joy as they grow! Every day is a new small adventure for babies…and mommies :)

  16. Ain’t no sight like hindsight.
    When the time comes, I hope you listen to your advice!

  17. krugthethinker · · Reply

    You are my hero! I love you so much more than I could ever say. Love and kisses to your sweet girl!

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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