A Letter to My Postpartum Self

My baby son and I at 8 days postpartum

Don’t read so many pregnancy books. It turns out, pregnancy and labor are the least of your worries. Read one. Then leave it. Don’t waste your energy.

When the baby comes, I am sorry, it will be like the time you adopted a kitten and then took it back the next day. It had kept you up all night meowing and it wanted you to hold her. Having a baby will be just like that, except that you can’t return it. You have to care for it. And the baby will keep you up for longer than a kitten ever would.  

In fact, you won’t have a sleep in for the next decade.

You won’t even want to sleep in anymore. You will be grateful just to be able to sleep through the night. You will long for it, research it, try to train your baby for it. It will become the most important goal, sleeping through the night!

Your body will never be the same again. It will become wider and stockier. Your feet will grow a size and you will be stuck with size 42 and you will have to shop for size, not for style. Your breasts will sag and look smaller but your bra will grow 2 cup sizes and not in a good way.

Three weeks postpartum, you will find yourself in a department store shopping for onesies, wearing your pregnancy jeans because nothing else will fit, holding a pretty yellow necklace in your hand breaking out in a loud sob in a public display of baby blues, wondering if you will ever again care to buy such a necklace.

Your life will change. Forever.

Oh, and get enough onesies before the baby is born, they are all you will need for the first six months.

You will be under pressure to talk about the joys of motherhood, to curate your social media feed. To show how fast you returned back to normal. You will see the fallacy of your approach when a friend who you haven’t seen in a long time tells you: “You are breezing through this motherhood thing.” And you will stop lying. To yourself.

brand new mother and infant son
This is how we spent most of our time for the first few months

Having a baby will be the hardest thing you have ever done.

You will hold your baby wondering why you don’t feel the love. You won’t be able to find the love under the overwhelming sense of obligation. Responsibility.

You will mourn your past life and you will try to hold on to it, with a strong, futile grip. You will see it disappear from under you, piece by piece. You will be gone. You, the childfree you, who lived your life for 32 years.

You will regret not having traveled more, not having had more fun, being more adventurous, learned more things, dated more men, experienced more. Of everything.

The future me would tell you, let it go. Your expectations.

There won’t be any carefree walks by the sea in a light see-through dress, pushing the stroller with your baby calm and happy in it. Not for a long time.

Don’t hold onto the past 32 years. Let them blend into the new you. Flow with the sleepless nights. Hold your baby. Don’t fret about the sleep schedule (but do have one!), about the colic and the fact that for the first three months your baby only sleeps when you hold him. (Sleep when the baby is sleeping doesn’t work for you)

Survive those days and hold your baby. Hold him tight and cherish it because one day you will remember those days fondly, even if it doesn’t seem so now and you will retell it anecdotally to anyone who would listen.

“I watched the 12 seasons of Emergency Room in the first two months of my son’s life because he would only sleep in my arms.”

You won’t get such an opportunity again in a long time. The lone, long nights with your sleeping son. Live them. Watch the show you like. It is all ok.

That same son will listen to that story seven years later and ask: “But if you held me, mama, when did you sleep? Weren’t you tired?” and it will be worth it.

You will find out that in the USA they don’t discriminate against women with large feet and you will order the shoes you like from there. You will return to your pre-pregnancy jeans a year later (yup, that’s how long it takes you!) and keep your shape with yoga, walking, and eating and you will dream of a tummy tuck. You probably won’t ever do it. Because if you are honest with yourself, you will know that it doesn’t really matter. You will be ok.

You will enjoy your son, the good and the bad and while you will take longer to recover than most women (or so it will seem) you will have another baby 6.5 years later, and you will do so much better. You will be prepared.

You will also adopt another cat because your son will beg you for one, but you will get the same postpartum blues you had with your new babies and you will (perhaps hastily again) give that cat away, too. Maybe you just aren’t a cat person.

But you will be strong. You will do things you never thought possible. You will still be you, a better version of yourself.  

You will still admire women who have one child after another and don’t fall apart. But you will know that no amount of comparison is ever going to change who you are. And you will learn to accept yourself. Well, most of the time.

Ten years later and you will still be working on your new dreams, new goals, you will be forever trying to improve who you are. But you will also know, deep down, that you are already ok, just like you were ten years ago. You will be able to see it now.

So let it go and dive into it, with everything you have. It won’t seem so at the time, but you will be ok. And you will love your baby just as they always said you will.

At the time I wished someone had told me how hard it was going to be. But now I know they couldn’t. Not because they were lying to me, but because the hardship doesn’t stay. It blends with love just like you grow into your large shoes.

And it is ok.


Note: I wrote this for a Medium publication in July 2020. It flowed right out of me. I’ve always wanted to write about how hard that first year was for me. At the beginning, it was impossible for me to see the end result, and as the time passed the memories of how hard it really was slowly disappeared. I believe this essay is the perfect blend of both and one of my favorites.

40 Comments

  1. I’m 25 but somehow I always want to have my own family, husband and children. I know being a mom and wife is really challenging but I really want to experience those things. As you said, even if I want to be always teenager, I can’t since life will change 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this post! Very meaningful to me xxx

  2. Stella, thanks for putting this out there. I know that my partner felt a lot of this during the fourth trimester and throughout the rest of the first year.
    Even if this letter doesn’t make it back to your younger self, I hope that other new moms can see this and find some comfort that it’s not just them.
    And that everything is going to be ok.

  3. I am just 18 years old and cannot relate to your post but this one is pretty good. The way you let your emotions flow in this letter is just magnificent. This post made me realize how my mom has always been there for me and how many hardships she needed to go throughjust formy sake. To all the moms out there, I really appreciate all of you! This earth will just be a dull empty earth if it was not filled with your love :”)

    1. Author

      Thank you so much, Aaliziyah (what a beautuful name)! Appreciate your input!

  4. Hey Stella, your story touched my heart, and you sound phenomenal. I love how you ended this blog post with:

    “… the hardship doesn’t stay. It blends with love just like you grow into your large shoes.”

    The conclusion ties in nicely with the bit about your feet growing by a size larger, and it’s so beautifully worded.

    Thank you for writing and sharing this personal essay. Have a great day!

    1. Author

      That is exactly what I was going for! Thank you so much for reading it and this amazing comment! Really, really appreciate it.

  5. This is a beautiful article, it is crazy the wonders and adventures being a parent can offer. No baby book can prepare you for the crazy road ahead, it is life that teaches you the lessons along the way. I am so blessed to be able to spend my time with my two awesome kids.

    1. Author

      Exactly, and you can never be fully prepared until you are already on the road of motherhood!

  6. I was hooked in reading this post and there is no doubt that so many moms would absolutely relate strongly with you. Thankfully, it always seems to be worth it as women continue to grow as mothers.

    1. Very beautiful and awesome article, that truely describe the mother’s feelings. I’m interested for read the posts about life and love. This is one of a best post I ‘ve found. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I’ve had 3 children now. I think some people enter parenthood a bit too unaware of what to expect. Others overthink it. A little research and prep goes a long way.

    1. Author

      Kudos to you. Yes, some women seem to do better than the others, preparation or no preparation! I was not one of them :)! But I got there.

  8. I too agree, as new mothers there were so many things we either did not know or expected differently. But, time teaches us it all. A valuable post for new mothers.

  9. Most times, we learn on the job. I also wish i knew so much, but I had to learn as I went along. This article is packed full with realities which will be extremely useful to all new mothers.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much! Yes, that is exactly what it is, learning on the job!

  10. Sleep? What’s that lol. Life sure changes once you have kids, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

  11. I feel like as a new mother, we will never be really prepared. I have seen that with my 2 girls. I wish I have known a lot of stuff, but at the end of the day, we do our best.

    1. Author

      Exactly, we do what we can with what we have at the time!

  12. I am childless but I really appreciate your post. Especially making it all look good for social media. I can tell how this post flowed from you, it got me reading to the end. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  13. a lovely personal sharing & definitely helpful as experience sharing to all new mums. cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  14. I am no mother but yes these experiences you shared will help many women. Maybe someday I’ll have a family too then it will help me.

  15. I don’t have my own child, and that journey is something that I already decided not to try, but I understand that it is tough, yet beautiful. You are a lucky Mamma!

  16. I can’t relate to what you have experienced but what you wrote aligns with what I have heard or have seen some of my friends who are mothers experience. Thanks for sharing your story!

  17. This was such a heartwarming post. I can relate to so many things you wrote in it. The only thing I couldnt is that your baby will keep you awake at night. Mine always slept like champs never kept me up and I did sleep when the baby slept. Everything else came after our naps.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Marta! That was so great that your baby slept. My sister’s first was like that, my sister had to set an alarm to wake her up to feed her. And I was like “an alarm, really???” 🙂

  18. My grandmother use to always say she could only give what she knew. But now that she knows better she is able to give more as a grandmother!

    1. Author

      I can imagine that being true! We would be so much wiser, too.

  19. Great post…having a baby and staying busy made my day most of fhe time. It taught us much lesson and help me staying more organized. Thanks for rhe share!

  20. Magnificent web site. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to several buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks for your sweat!

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