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My little love,

The night before you were born, I wrote you a letter. It talked about how excited I was to meet you, how much I already loved you, and all the adventures I had planned for us.

Everything in that letter was right. But the truth is, now that you are here and I really know you—know how it feels to hold you in my arms, know the sound of your sweet giggle, know the power of my love for you, I need to try to write the letter again.

Because there is nothing in the world that could have prepared me for the magnitude of you.

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So if I could write that letter again, fully understanding the amazing child I was about to give birth to, here's what it would say.


Dear baby,

I cannot wait to meet you. I understand now that my entire life has been a build up to this moment—the moment I become your mom.

Yes, I have been my own person (as I will continue to be), but I can see now that every step along the way was part of my journey to motherhood. To you.

Part of that journey were the steps I took with luck and fate guiding me—when I decided to go down south to college. When I moved to New York City after graduation determined to be single with a closet full of Manolos (ahem, thanks Carrie Bradshaw), got a job as a waitress (at a place I almost decided not to apply to)—and met your dad there one week later.

Fast-forward to the day your dad and I looked at each other over burgers and said, “I think maybe we're ready to have a baby?" (Spoiler alert, I never got the Manolos.)

All of those decisions and steps lead me to this moment. I am supposed to be your mom. You are supposed to be my baby.

And along the journey, I have grown into the woman who is going to raise you.

Every time I learned something, experienced pure joy, had my heart broken—I carry that all with me as a woman and as your mother.

The person I am right now, on the eve of meeting you, will still be here tomorrow after you're born. My hair won't look as good, but I will still be there, sharing every part of me with you.

I need you to know how fierce my love for you will be. I love you right now, yes. But when you are born…I can't even find the words. Maybe I can describe it like this: When a baby is born, their entire circulatory system changes—the way their heart works, the way their body gets oxygen—it's pretty amazing.

I think maybe the same things happens to a mother. My heart is about to start working differently.

When you are placed on my chest for the first time, my heart is going to swell near to bursting. When you cry and I can't make it stop, my heart is going to break. When I watch you take your first steps, or walk into your first classroom, my heart is going to pound as I try to fight back my tears of pride and fear.

My body is also about to start getting its oxygen differently.

When I sit with you in the emergency room, I will hold my breath until the doctor comes in and tells me that you're going to be okay. When I turn my back on you for 2.7 seconds only to find that you have dumped the flour out all over yourself and the floor, I will inhale deeply as I try to stay calm. And when you climb into my bed and snuggle into the crook of my arm, I will exhale every stress and worry as I melt into your warmth and fall asleep.

Everything in my life is going to change. Everything.

I have a very specific career goal right now, that I have worked towards my entire life. It's about to change.

I am very social, and spend almost every evening out with friends. That's about to change.

I am pretty self-focused. I love your dad and do whatever I can for him, but really beyond that, it's just kind of always been about me. That is about to change…a lot.

Baby, you are about to rock my world.

But I want you to know that it's all so wonderful. None of that is a complaint in any way. I love the way my life will shift and evolve.

I love that you will make me notice a worm crawling across the sidewalk or the beauty of falling snow or how fun bubbles really are.

I love that making the world a better place will become a necessity—I will vote in every election, I will call senators and I will use my voice instead of just listening to what everyone else has to say.

I love that you will make me find my strength and confidence. Giving birth to you tomorrow is the start. Staying up with you night after night, struggling with breastfeeding, getting through the tantrums, learning how to define and stand up for my values—I am going to be a beast.

There are going to be things I mess up, (many) days when I doubt myself, times that are just really hard for both of us. But I promise that I still love you, even when my “face looks grumpy."

You will make me proud every day, just by being you. There is nothing you can tell me that will make me stop loving you, ever. Not ever. Being your mom is the greatest honor of my life.

Well, baby. They say I should get some sleep—apparently tomorrow is going to be a lot of work.

I love you today, I love you tomorrow, I love you forever. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.

Love,

Mommy

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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