I remember the pain of that last month of pregnancy. Your pelvis aches every moment of the day – the only difference is whether it’s merely uncomfortable or outright painful. You can hardly sleep between the heartburn, constant urge to pee, baby jabs and kicks, and simply being gigantic. You want to slap anyone who goes on about the miracle of pregnancy. You just want to be done.
But let me tell you something, one-year-ago me. In one month, you’ll give birth to our beautiful daughter. Our first-born. The one who’ll change our life forever. She’ll teach us a love like we’ve never experienced before. I know that’s what everyone says, but that’s because it’s true. Hold her close and cherish all those tiny moments and all the moments when she’s tiny. “They” are right about that, too. It all goes so fast.
A year from now, you’ll find that our baby is no longer a baby. A year from now, she’ll be walking. Really walking. Her vocabulary will suddenly explode. She’ll be a climbing, exploring, independent, happy little toddler monster, and you won’t be able to believe she’s almost a year old already. She’s a kind, loving, funny, smart, curious, delightful little individual with a personality all her own. She pours out love to you, her daddy, her big sister, her friends, and sometimes even strangers. Get through those awful last few weeks of pregnancy knowing that we’ve made one amazing kid.
Don’t get me wrong, being a parent is hard. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. There will be times you’re so exhausted and frustrated and angry that you’ll feel like you’re the worst mother in the world and why are you this upset? You’ll ask, please, why can’t she just give you a break for a couple of moments to gather a few more shards of energy to get through this endless marathon?
And just as you’re feeling so upset, this tiny, beautiful little girl will flash you the biggest smile. Or walk all the way across the room to you for the first time, just to put her head on your shoulder and pat you on the back. And your heart will simultaneously melt and break and swell. Because how could have you been so upset just moments ago?
But that’s being a parent. Kids will push you to your absolute limits and then some. And then they’ll show you utter and pure love, and from that you’ll gather the strength to keep going and try again to be the parent you want to be. Remember for every day you feel like you suck at this parenting thing, there will be plenty others where you feel like Mommy of the Year. Sometimes you’ll feel both in the same day. Take heart – you’re doing a good job. You can do this.
In the next year, you’ll find your tribe. Your village. A sisterhood of mommies. You’ll no longer be lonely in a new town, waiting for the moment a few years from now when you all can move away to somewhere “better.” Instead, you’ll not only consider making Columbia your home, you’ll also fantasize about your friends’ kids and your daughter growing up together – best-friend mommies and kids alike. That she could have those lifelong friends that you never had because you moved too much.
You’ll learn that the biggest asset you can have in that first year of motherhood — in ANY year of motherhood — is a group of women who understand what it’s like in the trenches of parenthood. Women who’ll celebrate the tiny, daily victories and milestones. Women who’ll share in your fury when non-parents make fun of you for your pride in your child, or your parenting style, or that you actually have the gall to respect your baby as a person that can’t just conform to whatever is easiest for the adults around her. We are the mama bears. The cheerleaders. The late-night counselors. We are going through the same thing and understand each other in ways no one else can.
You’ve already predicted it, but babywearing will be perhaps THE best parenting, bonding and comforting tool you ever could have imagined. It’ll get you through every sickness, calm countless tantrums, sprinkle countless bucketfulls of sleepy dust, and it’ll become your baby’s portable safe space. No matter where you are, however far from home, as long as you have a wrap or carrier, you bear a magical power to soothe your baby and calm her down.
One year is both such a long and short time. It is nothing in the grand scheme of life and passes so fast, but in a year from now, you won’t be able to remember life before now. Things that used to be important mean nothing, and things that used to mean nothing now mean everything. And you wouldn’t trade this new life for anything.