Becoming Second- Encouragement for First Time Moms
I have a friend that is on her first pregnancy and she is feeling overwhelmed. She is experiencing emotions and physical transformations that have really begun to take a toll on her. I know the ups and downs of pregnancy very well. I had one miscarriage, and four healthy babies after that. I can say that having that miscarriage first really messed with me. My mom never experienced one so I didn’t consider that I would either. I had just shared the news with my family, a few close friends and my boss on the D.L. (code for please don’t tell anyone else, it’s still early) and honestly a few weeks later it happened. I knew it was happening. I knew something wasn’t right. I’m gonna be completely real, I’m so grateful that it was still early on. I’m grateful that I hadn’t shared the exciting announcement with many people yet…but afterwards it was news that spread quickly.
We had so many bouquets of flowers turn up on our doorstep and friends sharing for the first time that they too had suffered miscarriages. I was embarrassed for the sympathy, humbled by those that I had known for years sharing their losses with me, and mostly I was left with questions. Did I do something wrong? Harmful? Was my body capable of motherhood? How long would the sympathy continue? Is the loss the first thing people would think of when they saw me?
So many unknowns. Pregnancy is tough. Whether it is your first or last…or the pregnancy after the one you thought would be your last, it is hard. Thinking back on each pregnancy makes me smile. I love that I have a way to commiserate with other moms. Morning sickness, day sickness, night sickness, swelling, pains…both sharp and dull, stretching, itching, clothes wouldn’t fit so I just started wearing my husband’s clothes to bed…SO. MANY. CHANGES.
As my dear friend experiences struggles all her own I can’t help but want to hug and reassure her that she is strong. I want to assure her that she can do this…but how can I make her believe me without being unsympathetic? My dad always, I mean always, anytime I cried for any reason would tell me to “suck it up.” It use to make me want to punch him in the face, it made me so mad, haha. It’s ok, he already knows this. I probably cried way too much as a kid so maybe I deserved a little tough love…perhaps it worked…I grew up. I don’t cry much and I don’t complain too much…don’t ask my husband, he may tell you differently. But expecting it to be tough and taking each moment as it comes is good advice. Harness those new emotions and uncertainties into something positive.
I understand the worry of pregnancy, so many things change and soon it’s easy to convince yourself that everything has changed. Can’t eat sushi, or deli meats, be careful not to slip, don’t change kitty litter, hair dye isn’t good, alcohol isn’t safe, traveling to certain countries isn’t advised, watch out for mosquitoes, and be careful cleaning so you don’t inhale chemical vapors….it begins to feel that life may never be as it was…and you know, that may be true. (Cue the tears!)
Well, it is true. Life will never be the same. You are a mom now. If you are pregnant with your first child you are a mom. So stop fearing motherhood…it is already upon you. You don’t get to be selfish anymore…is that so terrible? Why, yes, yes it is. I have to disagree with Ricky Bobby when he says “If you ain’t first, you’re last” (Talledega Nights, 2006.) It seems scary…like you may lose yourself in this new season of life, but you don’t have to. Don’t give up things that are important to you…just learn to share. Your body teaches you, coaches you, really, on how to be second. Being second isn’t bad, it is wonderful, I’ve learned.
You know how people say that their favorite thing about weddings is watching the groom’s face as his bride walks the aisle towards him?
Motherhood -is like that.
It doesn’t mean that you have to stop enjoying life. It means that you get to experience everything twice; once for yourself, and once through the eyes of a child. Your child. You get to show your child all of the beauty that you enjoy and watch their eyes light up as they see the wonder in it. Watching your kids as they experience life is inspiring. It makes every memory sweeter.
I am an optimist. I don’t mean to try and convince you of something you may not find to always be true. Sometimes life with kids is tough…sometimes days just suck, bahahaha. There are lessons and fits in the grocery store and dragging a toddler from a play-date is a thing, I hate to say. But you haven’t made a mistake. You have helped create a life. You are already learning to nurture and share and put another first. Sometimes life is hard, sometimes parenting is difficult, but you are strong. You can take each day as it comes and learn to reroute, learn to adjust. You will find your groove, you will love your child more than you ever thought possible and you will find truer joy than you’ve ever experienced as you journey this amazing world together with your new and growing family. Whether you view the birth as the finish line of pregnancy or the start of your adventures in parenting, know that YOU CAN DO THIS.
and welcome to motherhood
You are strong.
You are full of beauty.
You are a mom.