Dear Friend (Letter To New Moms)

January 25, 2012

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Dear Friend,

In some ways I envy you. I envy your big round belly, constant admirers, and excuse to eat ice cream for breakfast. I envy your time, your naps, your organized nursery and neatly folded baby clothes. I envy your ignorance; your wonderful, pregnant, pre-baby ignorance.

I don’t envy your birth, or more accurately your post-birth. Sorry about all that. I’m sorry because everyone says “the pain is worth it,” but fails to acknowledge how you shit glass for weeks afterward. I’m not sure why no one tells you this. Someone should tell you so you don’t call your doctor in a panic and say something ridiculous like, “I don’t think my anus is in the right spot.”

Of course the baby does help improve morale. When I think about you seeing your son or daughter for the first time, my heart breaks a little because that’s a moment you can never take back. That moment sticks with you for the rest of your life, hovering in the back of your brain, reminding you what perfect means. It’s a feeling of pure joy and absolute terror. You won’t know what to do with it, but you’ll accept it without thinking because that’s what moms do. They enter into survival mode the second the baby is born, because otherwise they will most certainly die.

You are probably wondering about birth and contractions. I know it’s incredibly frustrating not to know what to expect. Have you ever had your arm fat pinched? It’s like that but in your uterus.

Good luck.

Once the baby is on the scene, you can be sure of a few things:

1) Your body will never be the same.

2) Your sleep will never be the same.

3) Your marriage will never be the same.

You can also rest assured that the big belly you’ve been carrying around will still be there, but no longer be acknowledged as “cute.” In fact, it’s kind of horrifying. Remember flubber? It’s like that but with stretch marks. Avoid mirrors.

Now it’s time to come home! The hospital was nice because the nurses did everything short of breathing for you. You didn’t even have to change baby’s diaper. How convenient!

Don’t be alarmed if on the car ride home, you have a minor panic attack. I remember feeling that it was very bright outside and suppressing the urge to sob. This is all very normal. Your body just went through World War III and now you have to keep a small, defenseless human alive on top of it. Terrifying.

Once you get home, you will probably want to sleep. You may be thinking, didn’t I just spend three days sleeping in the hospital? The answer to that question is a solid no.

A word on breastfeeding: it may come easily, it may not. What I can promise you is that it will get better and it’s okay to ask for help. Despite rumors that it is “the most natural thing on earth,” breastfeeding can actually be pretty tricky. If you end up giving your baby a little formula to get some relief,  you will not go to Mommy hell.

Things people will say to you that may or may not make you want to cut them:

It’s such a magical time, isn’t it?

Don’t you just love being a mommy?

Breastfeeding is such a bonding experience, don’t you think?

Just ignore them.

Treasure those who bring you meals and take out trash and quietly clean up your house. Make a note of the ones who say “this is hard” because they are the ones you call at 2AM when the kid still won’t latch. Honor them later, take advantage of them now.

I will pray for you.

I will pray for your sleep, your sanity, and your patience. I will pray for your expanding mom heart.

Most importantly, I will pray for your first, post-labor poo.

You know who to call.

Love you.

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69 thoughts on “Dear Friend (Letter To New Moms)

  1. Cara H.

    I love this letter. We need to get real about this stuff more often. I wish someone would have given me this before I had my first baby!

    Reply
  2. Sharon Melbourne

    Honor them later, take advantage of them now.

    Wise mama. Love this letter. I echo the above comment, I wish someone would have told me a lot of what you write on your blog about motherhood. Parenting is great, but it’s also tough. So many bloggers like to just put up fancy pictures of their babies smiling and happy and all their healthy meals and I just want to say–are you kidding me?! That is not what parenting is like!

    Reply
  3. dawn

    Oh that car ride home. I actually said to my husband “we need to turn back around” because I didn’t want to face reality!

    Reply
  4. amy f.

    Last week you wrote that the first weeks of motherhood are dark, dark times…and then this post. I feel like it’s really helping me get a grip on what’s about to happen to me in a few months. So many of the blogs/books I read make it seems like it’s going to be the time of my life, but I keep thinking–will it be?

    Reply
  5. Suz

    this letter is perfect. especially the end, no one ever prays for your ability to poop pain free, but honestly didn’t that feel like the only thing that mattered that first week!?

    and if you’re reading this too, katie (m) g- you can do it, mama. i’ll be thinking of you!!

    Reply
      1. Suz

        i had to read this again because it was so good.

        the arm pinch analogy is the best way i’ve ever heard it described. an incredibly hard arm-fat pinch that lasts an entire minute and then restarts 15 seconds later…..repeat cycles for ohh just 24 hours or so.

        Reply
      1. Jamie

        Haha! Hopefully that’s not creepy. I was in a hurry and couldn’t elaborate, but I seriously love your honesty and have told many a friend the same thing about labor and ESPECIALLY the afterward part. I didn’t dread giving birth the second time, I dressed the 2-4 weeks that followed.

        OH! And, the things I could tell you about your vagina now. After having done it twice. Yikes.

        Reply
  6. Erika

    Perfect letter. I too was utterly shocked about the after birth – and NO ONE TELLS YOU! This is now obviously the first thing I tell my pregnant friends. I ask my friends who gave birth before me why they didn’t give me a heads up….they say “you never asked!”

    Reply
  7. Papa

    Brilliant! It’s good for men to read this because really, what’s the down side for them…they’re just ready to make more babies!

    Reply
  8. Shannon

    So good. This letter is incredible. It should be sent to all pregnant women.

    It makes me sort of wish that Waylon was born before Behr, and that we had been frinds back then.

    Reply
  9. Nessa@CasaBraaflat

    i almost think it is better to go in blind with your first baby because even though you have accuratly described childbirth and it’s aftermath, it cannot be fully comprehended unless you have lived it.

    Reply
  10. Zoe

    I’m sorry I couldn’t warn you about the first poo. I don’t remember mine being that bad! Guess I’m just lucky…

    Good letter. I can’t wait to hear how it goes for Katie!

    P.S. Your papa is funny.

    Reply
  11. Marcy

    This is beautiful and so true! We’re four months in and I still remember that car ride home. (And lot’s of things that people say that may or may not make you want to cut them: “is she a good baby?”) Thanks for sharing, Kate!

    Reply
  12. shelah n

    I remember someone asking me what surprised me the most about motherhood (when my first baby was about a year old)?
    I said “The pain”.
    And as encouragement to you, while it does vary, the first baby was the most painful in almost all ways. I don’t know, maybe you get used to the pulled hair and your eyesocket being used for a toehold; but I don’t think so, you get better about laying down house rules as a means of self-preservation.

    Reply
  13. jenni

    you have no idea how hard i LOL’d while reading this. why did i not know some of these things???? can i send this to every pregnant woman i know? i so wish someone had been praying for my first post-labor poo because it was the most terrifying experience of my life!!

    Reply
  14. Katie

    I don’t know what to say other than thank you. thank you. thank you. For this letter as well as for all past and future advice.

    Right now there are a lot of women jealous of me because they didn’t have a friend who wrote them a letter like this.

    You are a true gem and I know know that I’d do without you.

    Reply
  15. dr perfection

    So I pinched my arm fat about as hard as I could and it didn’t hurt much. Does that mean I could have a baby without much pain?

    Reply
  16. dr perfection

    oh, skip that, I think I pinched it wrong. I think I had too much fat in the pinch. I just did it again with just a thin layer of fat and it really, really hurt.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    So good, Kate. So good. It made me smile and cry all at once. I so wish I could freeze that moment in time when I held Sam for the first time. Katie (M) G is lucky to have a friend like you. (stole Suz’s clever abbreviations.

    Reply
  18. Katie

    I just keep reading this. I think I might print it and take it with me to the hospital to read again.

    Also, I ate ice cream for breakfast this morning and just pinched my arm fat really hard:)

    Reply
  19. Jacq

    FABULOUS!!!
    Kate- if i knew you before baby:) I would have warned you of the poo- the swollen vagina(x4), the tortured nursing nipples (bonding? ommm –maybe imagining throwing the baby as it latches on like a piranha and tears fall down my cheeks and my husband says “relax hun, its ok” (??????????seriously?????), stretch marks and marshmallow jelly belly – your description as WW3 fits !

    I LOVE IT- and I love your honesty- so refreshing

    Reply
  20. Molly

    1. Would you please send this letter to me when my time comes? I could think of no greater expression of love. Unless you sent it attached to some delish meal.

    2. I had the unfortunate experience of being the only one present in the hospital with my cousin when her first poo hit. I thought she was dying. She thought so, too.

    Reply
  21. Sherry Moyer

    Why couldn’t you be my friend before I had our kids no one told me any of that stuff .I thought I was crazy !!! Do you want to know the worst part it’s been so long that I forgot most of it and didn’t even tell Katie all that stuff ,so I’m glad she has you Kate Love Mom Moyer

    Reply
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  25. Lindsay

    I had my first baby 3 weeks ago and just found your blog. This letter made me laugh so hard because it’s so true. Who knew pooping would ever be so traumatic!!

    Reply

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