Six Months a Mama: A letter to myself

Dear Mama,

Congratulations! After the hardest 21 hours of your life you have welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby girl into the world. I know you are struggling as you try to figure out what just happened to your body while immediately caring for your daughter 24/7. You are utterly exhausted, overwhelmed, you have stitches in places no one should ever have stitches, you can barely stand without help, and you cry at the drop of a hat for no reason at all.

Unfortunately, it gets worse before it gets better. This is normal, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

But please, hang in there; because when it gets better… oh does it get better.

You know all those cliché sayings everyone shared with you while you were pregnant? You have just discovered the truth behind them.

You will feel a level of tired you never thought possible.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Parenthood will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done.

That last phrase is your least favorite because while you identify with the hard, you haven’t experienced anything rewarding yet.

I want you to know that I see you ever so slowly pressing through this hard phase.

I see you struggling to breastfeed, when nursing is far from the magical bonding experience people told you it would be.

I see you sobbing in the middle of the night because you’ve only slept for twenty minutes and you just can’t take it anymore.

I see you having a breakdown because you really want to attend the mom’s group at a nearby church, but you don’t have the courage to leave the house.

Most importantly, I see you in your biggest struggle, the one based around yet another parenting cliché:

The second I laid eyes on her I was struck with a love so overwhelming it’s indescribable. I can’t even remember what life was like without her.

You remember exactly what it was like before Ellie was born. You worked hard to build a career that you loved, you made decent money, you fit into the cute clothes in your closet, you slept… need I go on? Your life was good before Ellie, and acknowledging that does not take away any of the wonderful things she now adds.

You’re also struggling with this new love. It is different from anything you have ever experienced, and while you enjoy being a Mama you don’t really feel it yet.

Don’t misunderstand me, I know you love your daughter. You know you love her too.

It’s the kind of love that gets you out of bed for the fourth time in one night because she is hungry and you will do anything to take care of her.

It’s the kind of love that would cause you to do everything in your power to keep her safe, including sacrifice your own life.

It’s a “kick ass” kind of love, as your dad will describe it, and it’s the kind of love that is known in your head before it’s felt in your heart.

I hear those desperate prayers as you cry out to God to bring joy and fulfillment in your new role. You pray to feel the love you know you have for your little girl.

God will hear those prayers too.

At three months you will start to feel like a person again, at five months you will find yourself thinking “this is fun” more often than not, and by six months you will look at your daughter and the weight of the love you have always had for her will come crashing down on you.

It’s a love that is swift and fierce, filled with both head knowledge and more warm fuzzy feelings than you could ever imagine. You will look at this little person you created and burst with awe and delight.

You will finally experience the reward everyone says accompanies the hard stuff, and it will be like nothing you have ever known.

Just as she is growing into a person, you are growing into your new role. Give yourself grace, and continue to rely on the Lord more than you ever have before. Look at the amazing journey you have been on already, with a lifetime of learning and growing to go.