A Letter to Myself: 9 Weeks Ago

 
 

Dear Elisabeth,

It gets better. It gets so much better. I promise.

I know it hurts. I know you thought the biggest pain was over with labor and I know you’re wondering how long this will last, how much more you can take. I remember those long nursing sessions, whispering to your baby through steady tears that you love him, even in so much pain you love him. I promise the tears will stop. Breastfeeding might not get any easier, but its okay to pump. You will still bond with your baby. He’ll still love you and your milk when it comes from a bottle. 10 weeks in he’ll be growing just fine. He’ll be so big for a moment you’ll wish he was small again, but just for a moment.

This isn’t the same hurting everyone told you about, in four days it won’t get better, and that cream won’t help. Don’t feel like a wimp, because you aren’t.

In a month you’ll be able to hold your baby after feeding him without searing pain and you’ll be able to wear clothes. You’ll be sore and healing for awhile but it gets better, so much better.

The nights are hard but don’t be scared of them. I know you’re so worried, so anxious, and so, so tired. There will always be enough milk and in just a few more weeks you’ll be sleeping for many more hours at a time. Don’t be afraid to wake up Ben; you don’t need to be alone in this. If you get the drop-in bottles right away you’ll avoid those four nights of sleepless hell, but you won’t, and you’ll survive.

Don’t feel guilty about leaving guests alone so you can nap. Don’t feel guilty about leaving your baby with guests so you can nap. Just don’t bother feeling guilty about anything.

In two months you will love being a mom. You will understand how people have more than one child, and you’ll even be able to think about a family bigger than three. You may still not understand people saying the first weeks are the best of their life, but you’ll have gotten through them with a beautiful baby and wonderful husband you love more and more each day. Pretty soon you’ll be laughing with both of them as Lincoln smiles and gurgles.

The only thing you’ll miss about these early days is how light your baby is. But his fifteen pounds means he’ll be sleeping eleven hours a night by ten weeks so don’t complain.

Remember that his cries are a form of communication, not a judgement on you. Even when he’s crying, you are doing great. Even on your worst days, this little guy is one of the lucky ones. He has two parents who prayed him here, who love him, who sacrifice for him, and who are doing the best they can. That is enough.

In a few weeks he’ll smile at you and you will feel so validated. And then he’ll smile at Ben and your heart will melt. Be gentle with your husband because he is trying too.

Motherhood is as wonderful as you thought it would be, it will just take you a little while to find your rhythm and to recover. Soon you’ll have far more tears of joy than hurt and exhaustion. Soon feeding him won’t be something  you have to dread. Soon the nights wont be so scary and you’ll look forward to long stretches of sleep. You’ll even miss your baby then, and feel a bit silly about it.

Continue to be gentle with your body after these first few weeks. It grew a baby. It birthed a baby. And it continues to nourish a baby. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be in shape again and your clothes to fit, but don’t be frustrated. Just be patient. In comparison to this baby thing, getting in shape is easy.

Remember to rely on the Lord. The extra patience and kindness He will bless you with over the next few months will amaze you. You need the guidance He gives more than ever and the comfort you’ll find in the scriptures and in song will make all the difference.

Just hang in there, okay? You will love it soon. Lincoln will still cry and sometimes you’ll just want to wear ear plugs, but it becomes a joy you’ve yet to experience. It turns into something that makes it all worthwhile. Motherhood is beautiful – just hang in there.

Love,
Elisabeth

**There was joy in those first few weeks. There was laughter. There was amazement. Some of my happiest moments up until then were in those first few weeks (now the happiest moments are more recent). But those first weeks were also the hardest of my life, and some of the darkest. I have never been so scared, so pained, or so exhausted. I can attribute most all of it to a horrible experience with breastfeeding, a tongue tied baby with a poor latch, and an attempt to work through it for five long weeks. It is something I’d go through all over again if I had to for this little boy, but not something I will say I miss. For me, motherhood continues to get better. Each week my body heals a bit more. Each week I learn a bit more. Each week I fall more in love with being Lincoln’s mom.

 

Photos from this past week & Linc at six weeks, respectively.

24 Comments

  1. This post made me tear up!! I went through the exact same thing (most moms do I think) when Everett was first born. The main sucked…the late nights sucked…but you are right, it DOES get better! Watching your baby grow up is the most amazing thing! Just hang in there girl…and remember…this momma is always around for a vent session ;).

    xoxo
    Lauren
    Dressing Dallas

    1. Thanks Lauren! I think it is wonderful to focus on the positive …but that its okay (and helpful) to admit that the struggles are there too. I remember feeling a bit confused on why the weeks that were supposed to be "the best of my life" were so hard. But, you're right, watching your baby grow up is incredible and each stage just seems to get more fun!

    1. Thanks friend! I can totally relate to the lady in the first post. Although I am pumping 90% of what Lincoln eats right now…he's still completely bottle fed and in public I always want to tell people its breastmilk because I feel the judgement (and because, my goodness, getting that milk is hard work). But really, we each do what is best for our family and we should support each other in that.

      I love this post from a dear friend: http://www.silverliningtheblog.com/2014/09/let-moms-be-moms.html

  2. This is so honest and beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Just know you're not alone. Those first few weeks were so hard for me, too. I was so overwhelmed, felt so lonely and questioned what I had gotten myself into. But those weeks passed and I (remarkably) survived, even though I had my doubts at times. I did it, we did it, and now I have this lovely, healthy growing boy. And I am happy and motherhood feels wonderful. Thank you for being honest, and sharing your story. It's so important to share things like this. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Chelsea! I think its wonderful to focus on the positive and share the beautiful parts of motherhood, but part of the beautiful is coming out the other end and being stronger for it.

  3. Oh Elisabeth! I'm so sorry! For at least the first 2 weeks I had the worst pain down south, I told myself colby would be fine as an only child. Then it got better but he didn't sleep through the night till 8.5 months! And I was exhausted and I think I'm still catching up. And syill getting used to my body and hoping one day I'll be back to me pretty pregnancy weight. And finally understanding how people have multiple children. Really. Don't ever feel like you're a bad mom. And don't ever feel like you're not giving your child enough. And don't ever feel guilty for needing a break from your baby because they are so hard. You are awesome! Love ya Girl!

    1. Oh thank you Aimee! I'm trying and thats about all I can do at the moment šŸ™‚ And 8.5 months?? You. are. awesome. I can't even imagine. But as for female bodies. They're amazing. It kind of blows my mind that we push babies out and then just a month or two later we're (basically) fully functioning. But I am grateful for friends who prepped me for the post baby business..because dealing with that for weeks was probably more rough than delivery šŸ˜‰

  4. You sweet mama. I'm also in total awe that you're exclusively pumping. You rockstar.

    1. Well, we supplement with a few ounces of formula a day from time to time …because I decided I will pump three times a day and no more. For a few weeks there I was pumping every three to four hours and yikes. Those women are real rockstars.

  5. Wow. What a wonderful, honest post. My little girl is 12 weeks today and I can sympathize. I had tear inducing pain for about two weeks before it got better and I'm so so sorry that you had such a hard time for so long. I've been attending my local La Leche League (breastfeeding support and education) meetings and I can't say enough about how supportive and wonderful being around other nursing moms is. Who knew that breastfeeding could be so complicated?!? I highly recommend that you google and find your local LLL chapter. I keep on meaning to write a post about the trials of the first month but haven't seemed to find the right words yet. This was a really great post. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Sarah – I'm so glad bf got better for you! Next time around I am definitely going to be better about seeking more help early on. We have a great little bf support group at our hospital but after a few sessions with the lactation consultant and a lower tongue tie clip, I needed to switch to pumping. They realized he'd probably need an upper tongue tie clip as well and that might help, or it might just take a few months till his mouth got bigger and he could start sucking instead of chewing. And to think, when people told me about the issues with bf before baby I just dismissed them, thinking it would be a natural wonderful thing. šŸ™‚ If you ever do get around to writing that post, I'd love to read it!

  6. Yes yes yes! Oh my gosh I felt this way with Bronx when I first had him! Holy cow that was rough….but like always soooo worth it! šŸ™‚ I loved reading this-seriously, thank you for taking the time to put that into words.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Audrey! I guess all the really worthwhile things in life aren't easy. But I was probably a little unprepared for how difficult that beginning part would be šŸ™‚ Thank goodness it gets better!

  7. This made me tear up. it so amazing, looking back now, all of the things mothers do! Aren't we so blessed!? The Lord is great to let us women experience this! You are an amazing mom!!!!

    1. The Lord is great – and also apparently has truly incredible plans for women because he needs us to be so strong he has us learn from this experience. I really feel like now that I've gone through this, I can do anything. Love ya April!

  8. I'm going to pretend that you wrote this letter to me, because that's where I'm at. I'm in it. Not the breastfeeding part, but everything else? Yup. P is 4.5 weeks old, and sleeping (or lack thereof) has been a battle. And I started working again this week. Thank goodness I have two weeks to work from home to transition back to the office. Sometimes I think I'm going to lose my mind. And when P was 3 weeks old, I actually asked her, "Why don't you like me?" She was crying and screaming, and I couldn't calm her down, and I was exhausted. I felt so unworthy of motherhood. So… yeah. Thanks for this. I know this will pass, but man, it's hard in the moment!

    1. Oh you don't have to pretend – this was just as much to anyone else going through this…because its a letter I wish I could have read nine weeks ago.

      Lindsay, that sounds so hard. You are so strong. I can't imagine starting work again on top of all of that. Know that it gets better…and that I'll be praying for you!

  9. So much truth in this post. You're such a great mom, and that little boy loves you so much!

  10. Hi Elisabeth! I am a mom to 8, my youngest is now 4 months and oh I would have a loved a letter to myself after my first one! I wanted to real quick share my experience with tongue tied babies! My oldest was tongue tied and we did not even know what that was! It was making nursing difficult at first and the dr suggested to see how it went for another week and after that to consider getting the tongue clipped. We ended up not doing that, however it was a great learning experience, I had a dear friend who was having huge issues nursing, her poor breastmilk looked like tomato soup and her nipples were raw, it almost looked like hamburger meat, I suggested she ask about clipping it, she did and they clipped his tongue,. The change was immediate! She was able to nurse him for 15 months with no more pain! I hope this helps in some way, sorry for using the word nipple on your blog! lol! Feel free to delete this if needed! I love your blog! Congrats on baby Linc! Enjoy every minute it goes by so fast!

    1. Hi Lara,

      Thanks so much for sharing! I wish more moms knew about the tongue tie issue sooner and so much pain could be prevented. We actually did end up getting his lower tongue tie snipped (at a dentist and, with no blood flow or nerves there yet, it didn't bother the baby at all) – but after a few more weeks of unsuccessful nursing attempts the lactation consultant asked us to consider another more invasive procedure (for an upper tongue/lip tie) that she said may help, but it may not. At that point I opted to move to exclusive pumping because I didn't want to put Linc through something that may not help.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! It makes me feel much less alone these days. I remembered reading it last year and went back looking for it this morning after a rough night with my 6 week old. He's amazing and a joy but this is hard. Very hard. Looking forward to it getting much much better! Lincoln is adorable by the way! And all the best for a safe arrival of your little girl.

    1. Hang in there, friend. It gets easier, and more fun, and (for me), better all-around. Ben and I were just talking last night how that this second time around, at least when it is so hard, we will be able to remember (I hope) that everything is a phase and "this too shall pass."

      I'm anticipating re-reading this a few times myself this summer and it means a lot that you are finding comfort in it now (thank you for taking the time to comment and tell me). Motherhood manages to continue to be the most rewarding and requiring thing I've done but there is just something about those early weeks…you've got this! And when you feel like you don't, remember that your son is one of the lucky ones. Even when you feel like you're failing, you're there, you're trying, he's loved, and that's what matters most.

    2. Thank you for saying that. Those words bring me a lot of comfort. We are trying our best and he is very very loved. We will make it through šŸ™‚

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