A Letter To My Pregnant Self

Dear Ashton,

I know you’re restless. I know you’re so ready to meet the sweet baby in your giant belly…to see her, to hold her, to know her and watch her grow. I know it’s hot. And your ankles have fat rolls. And she’s sitting so low in your pelvis, you’re having chronic nerve pain that some (probably male) jerk has eloquently named “lightning crotch.” And I promise not to go all Trace Adkins on you and tell you you’re gonna miss this. Because you’re not. No one misses those things. But I am asking you to do something crazy. Enjoy it.

Enjoy it because it will never be like this again. Go walk around a store and take as much time as you want. Go get an Icee at the gas station because the whim strikes you. Get in and out of the car a hundred times running pointlessly around town. Nap when you’re tired. Watch a movie. Sit your butt on a couch and watch TV and eat snacks uninterrupted and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHERISH IT!

You’ve always been such a good student. You’ve read all the books, taken all the classes, asked all the questions, and sought out advice. And sweet pea…none of it will prepare you. Because nothing on this planet can prepare you. You weren’t a mother before, and now you are. A fundamental cosmic shift has taken place. The Lord is doing a new thing. I know you know this intellectually, but I know it experientially, and it cannot be overstated. Don’t worry about being prepared. Walk into that delivery room with open hands and a heart willing to give all of yourself to this child and you will have done everything you need to do. I mean, yeah, build the crib. But don’t get bogged down in some “pre-baby checklist.”

You’re going to wonder if you’ve made a mistake. You’re going to wonder why you wanted this in the first place. You’re going to wonder if you’re cut out to be a mom and know that it’s too late to wonder that. You’re going to sit in the bathroom floor with the fan on to drown out the sound of your baby’s cries, shouting at God that if he controls the whole universe…why can’t he help your baby GO TO SLEEP?!

Your baby’s spit up will defy physics. You will watch as the carpet, the couch, the rocking chair you obsessed over, are all covered with stains you would need a degree in chemistry to get out. Actually, scratch that. Your husband and father both have degrees in chemistry and the stains are still there. You will sit burping her, bleary-eyed in the dead of night, and feel the cups of your bra fill with her vomit. This, despite the fact that you are wearing a tank top, t-shirt, and robe over said bra.

And that bra. While we’re on the subject, it’s your nursing bra. You’re not using it for nursing. You’re using it because you realized it was you or breastfeeding, and only one could win. You made a survival decision for you and your baby both. And now your breasts, the same ones who would not release their milk as your baby screamed a scream so fierce it made you dizzy with nausea, are taunting you by leaking that milk on all your shirts.

You see, dear girl, this mothering thing is not for the weak. So in the moments where you feel weak, remember that you’re not. No one weak could do what you’re about to do. No one weak would go through a 14 step process just to use the bathroom and then walk out and pour love and warmth and comfort over the squirming little creature that tore some very important things on its way into this world. I need you to hear me when I tell you that you CAN do it. You are meant to do it. You are the best person for the job.

And can I tell you something else? It’s not all combat. In fact, when you add it all up together, the hard moments don’t seem to matter much in comparison to the sweet ones. You will hold that baby in the hospital, just a few hours old, and feel more like yourself than you’ve ever felt. You will hold her in the warm yellow glow of her nursery, making silent, awed eye contact with your husband, feeling like if someone were looking in the window at this scene, it would look like something out of 1950’s Disney animation. Yes, your world will burst into Mary Blair-style technicolor when she smiles, when she coos, when she rests her fat little cheek on your shoulder, and when she sleeps peacefully…a teeny tiny burrito in her comparatively giant crib.

Your eyes will fill with tears drawn from a well deep within when she is–all of a sudden–able to do something she couldn’t do before. One day she could only lie flat on her back, and now she can roll! One day she could only scoot, and now she can crawl! And so quickly it will become, “One day they laid her on my chest, and now she’s pushing her walker across the floor, calling me ‘mama.'”

For no cliche has ever been more true than this one: The days are long, but the years are short. There will be long days, to be sure. Days when you pray for a time machine to fast forward past the crying, past the sleepless nights, past the feelings of helplessness you both have. But there will also be days where you are planning her first birthday party, and you actually cannot believe her life can be measured in years now.

So treasure these days, dear heart. Rest as much as you can. The sun is setting on your newlywed days and I want you to soak them up for all they’re worth. You’re about to be broken down and built into something different, so just love who you are right now.

And please, for the love of all, eat something more than a bowl of ramen noodles on the night of September 8th, 2019. Trust me.

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