Dear New Mom,
I sit here, typing in the dark on the night that stands seven years removed from the first night I held my firstborn son.
I couldn’t get over the miracle of his life. I couldn’t get over how I was holding this person in my arms, who just hours before was a part of me. Now, he was quite himself and quite not a part of me. He was so perfect. A little bit of dark hair on that round head. Tiny little nose. Long, wrinkly fingers. Healthy as could be, all 8 pounds 7 ounces of him. The memory of those snuggles and smells still hasn’t left me.
I wasn’t prepared for much with the arrival of my first child. I wasn’t ready for the relational changes: the giddy feeling I shared with my husband in those first few days–we had just done something amazing and incredible. I wasn’t prepared for the physical changes: the amount of blood that would drain from my body, the amount of time it would take me to really recover, the lack of mental capacity for higher level processing. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional changes: the helplessness I would feel in the coming weeks (as I worked to learn what he needed and when), the crying, the worry. I wasn’t prepared for the mental changes: to think about the bigger things of motherhood, like dreams or mission statements or goals that I would have for this boy.
And here, seven years later, I am amazed at that has happened since then. So, from my seven years of experience (which seems like not much to me, but probably a whole lot to you), I challenge you to think about the big picture for your little baby. Think beyond what kind of outfit he’s going to wear home from the hospital (he’ll probably spit up on it anyway). Dare to think long-term as you start this life-long journey of your own.
Give your child a song. My boy’s is Matt Maher’s “Hold us Together.” We played it in the hospital the first morning he woke in our arms. We sang it tonight to lullaby him off to sleep. He knows and loves “his song.” And I love the way I can picture the light of the sunrise coming through our hospital window as soon as the opening measures make it to my ears. It has become more true for him now than it was when he was born.
Invade your baby’s space. I was so careful and respectful of my newborn’s personal space. And then when he was about two months old, I remember thinking, “If I don’t start hugging this boy and kissing him on the lips, he’s never going to kiss me!” So, I started to invade his bubble. And he is the best snuggler, and still gives me kisses on the lips.
You will rarely know when your last _______ will be. The last time he holds on to your finger while he falls asleep. The last time he uses sign language to say “more.” The last time he’ll need you to tie his shoes. The last time he’ll come into your bed to snuggle after a bad dream. As you sense your baby nearing the end of a stage, soak up the moments you love. Video them. Take pictures.
You will stay up late. You will wake up early. You will find yourself doing things for them you never thought you would do. You will use a silly voice when reading books. You will be unreserved in your dancing. You will make friends with strangers everywhere you go. You will laugh like crazy and cry like you didn’t know you could.
You will want to be a better you. You will want to get it all right.
And, you won’t be able to. It will break your heart, but you won’t be able to get it all right. And in those moments, you’re going to need something outside of yourself that can take away the pit in your stomach and replace it with something good and right. And God will meet you there in powerful ways, if you’ll let him. God will hold your mama heart and remind you of his love for you and his love for your little one.
And when you are up late at night, frosting your 7-year-old’s birthday cake, you will look back, dizzy from all the moments. All the memories. All the successes. All the failures. And all the wonder of God Almighty.
Don’t let it pass you by, mama. It will be the best thing of your life.