Hey there! I know that the days seem so long and December seems so far away. But, I promise you the next twenty weeks will go by unimaginably fast. I remember how scary those last few weeks before viability were – the nightmares, the constant worry when the baby wasn’t moving the same as they had been the day before – especially now that you’ve had the big anatomy ultrasound and everything looked perfectly healthy. I know you are still questioning if being surprised by the baby’s gender was the right decision, and I want to let you know that is 100% the right decision. There is nothing like hearing Douglas proclaim, “It’s a girl,” in the delivery room, oh, that’s right, the baby you are carrying in your womb is a spunky red-headed little girl, just like the one you’ve seen in your dreams.
I know that you are still questioning if changing doctors so late in the game was a good idea – and I want to let you know that it was the best decision of your pregnancy. You will see in a few months when your membranes rupture before labor starts and you aren’t forced into Pitocin, IV fluids, or constant fetal monitoring. You will see in a few weeks when you go to your new doctor and he spends time talking with you and making sure y’all are on the same page. A 12 percent primary C-section rate and caring doctors will make a huge difference in your prenatal and birthing experience, but you’ll see that soon. In a few weeks, you will be confident in your choice, it’s okay that right now you are terrified of hurting your old doctor’s feelings. In fact, the doctor who catches your baby will tell you how impressed he was with how fast your labor was and how well you handled it (even though you are going to yell at him in the process).
I know that the 12 weeks of Bradley classes are a lot right now, getting home late every Thursday and having to rush to Welsh once you get off work – but I promise it’s worth it. You will feel so prepared when the time comes to deliver your tiny baby. I wish that you could know that once your contractions start you are only 3 and half hours away from meeting the baby you worked so hard on. I wish that I could let you know that you will progress from a 5 to complete in a hour, and you don’t need to ask for the Demerol, even if you don’t use it. Also, squat more, I so wish I could go back and squat way more than I did – you’ll see why later. I know that pregnancy is physically hard, your back hurts constantly, your pants don’t fit well, you are just uncomfortable in your own skin; just remember it’s such a short time and there will be days that you will miss having the baby safe inside.
I know that you are scared for the responsibility and heaviness that comes with having a child – and let me warn you – there will be many days the first weeks when you are completely overwhelmed with love for your little, but you desperately want your old life back and the guilt will eat you alive. Don’t beat yourself up, those feelings fade and your pre-baby self will seem like an excellent chapter of your life that you will look back on with fondness but not longing. Parenthood is like taking a running jump into the deep end and hoping you learn to swim. And you will learn to swim, I wish you could see Livia right now, she’s laughing, chattering, eating and lighting up every room she enters. I wish you could see you, rocking her to sleep, kissing her tears away, making her laugh and laughing with her – motherhood will come to you as you need it. But one day she will look up to you and say, “Mama,” and your world will never be the same.
Breastfeeding will be harder than you ever imagined. You will want to throw in the towel at least three times a day in the early weeks. Push through it. The pain ends and the connection you have with your daughter is incredible. One day she will cry when you walk out of the room and it will make your heart break and whole at one time.
Don’t forget your poor husband. It’s easy to become wrapped up in your body and all the changes that are happening, but even though he’s not physically going through it, his life is still changing. Go on dates with him, go to Dairy Queen every time he wants to, stay up late and sleep in – your lives and relationship is about to change so dramatically it’s hard to recognize the couple you were before. Watching him be a daddy to your daughter is one of the greatest blessings in your life. Let him take all the diaper changes in the early weeks, let him snuggle her and get to know her once she’s here. Be easy on him, he is working just as hard as you are to prepare for your baby. Let him know that, tell him every day, show him every day. Be his helpmate, be his biggest cheerleader. Always have is back – because you know he always has yours.
Oh mama, your life will be so much richer (and harder) a year from now. Your days will be longer than ever, you will give every ounce of yourself to take care of your daughter and husband and exhaustion will be your constant companion – but the fullness of each day will astound you. One day you will pick your daughter up out of the bathtub and cuddle her close and realize that your mom felt this way with you once, that the long days and nights would never end and then nearly 25 years rushed by in a blink. Eat the ice cream if you want it. Rub your belly unashamedly. Take all the naps you want. Go get a massage. Trust your gut. You got this.