A Letter to Myself
I know you've been struggling sometimes and I think this letter may be what you need to get through this time. Although the days may feel long, this time is fleeting and you will most likely miss it one day. Isn't that one of the reasons Olivia was even born? haha I'm here to remind you that you are doing your best and you must give yourself grace.
Being a mom is difficult and even though many don't dive into the hardships that come with the responsibility of a tiny human or humans, everyone struggles. The constant battle of asking yourself, "Am I doing it right?", "Could I do better?". Juggling time between two kids comes to your mind quite often, two to feed, two diapers to change, two to love equally. I hear you wondering in the smallest part of your mind where your mom guilt hides, what time you will have for you. It's okay to have some self-preservation because who you are is more than just being a mom. Give yourself grace.
I know you think about the ways in which you've grown and changed throughout the course of your adult life and marriage. The once 22 year old mind you had is now occupied with baby bottle measurements and ordering diapers. You wonder what you could have possibly worried about back then, the memories seem so distant. I think you were starting to feel lost like motherhood came and consumed the entirety of your being, changed you. That night you sat crying to David, asking him if he still loved the person you've become was a necessary moment to remind you of who you are. His response was yes I love you because you are still in there. It's true, even with your new responsibilities, your worry, your new happiness, you are still you. Maybe you are finally realizing that you will change as the years go by, your priorities will be different, your happiness will come from different things, you'll have the result of your love walking around outside of your body, but in the core of all those things is you. Give yourself grace.
Prior to becoming a mother, you never thought about the difficulties of breastfeeding. I know you struggle now with breastfeeding in very different ways than you did with Miles. While then you stressed about making enough milk for him day by day now, you don't necessarily worry about ounces but about your mental state. No one could have expected you to struggle now with nausea and anxiety while breastfeeding but still you persevere. Although you have put in so much work to put milk away to last for weeks I think deep down you know what is holding you back from hanging up the pump. That day you watched Olivia's body go rigid and her doll eyes locked straight up at the ceiling you felt that pit of anxiety in your stomach grow. Did you just witness a seizure? You panicked, you cried, you relived every second of that moment over and over because you felt like you were supposed to know what to do. The longest evening in the emergency room took a huge toll on you. Watching the nurses as they struggled to get an IV line, nervous as they put in a catheter, unprepared to do an EKG on a 1 month old baby. I don't think you've ever felt so helpless. In those moments you felt you were supposed to hold it together while instead you fell apart. You were looking for answers in everything and everyone because you were too afraid to make the wrong decision. Do you let them take her for an MRI, COVID testing, a lumbar puncture? The decisions seemed so difficult to make but you pulled yourself together and made what you felt were the best decisions for your family. As Olivia finally went to sleep with swollen eyes and exhaustion after a long day, you broke down knowing that in the morning you will rise again to be the mom she needed you to be. This was one of those pivotal moments that you chose to exclusively pump. Latching Olivia to your breast was difficult with 21 leads attached to her tiny head. You didn't let the stress of the situation stop you from pumping every 3 hours around the clock. I think you finally know why now. It was the only thing you felt you could do for her, give her, provide for her. Just remember, she is okay now. Please give yourself grace.
You are allowed to mourn the breastfeeding relationship you thought you would have. The bond you felt with Miles, you felt robbed of now. But this isn't the case right? You see how Olivia looks at you, like you are the most important person in her world. You see her smiling at you as your feed her a bottle because she feels your love. I know things may not have turned out the way you expected but look at her thriving and growing. Don't fret about the number of pumps per day or the number of ounces per day, because no matter what she is fed and she is filled with love. Give yourself grace.
I know in the weeks leading up to Miles starting school you wondered a lot about how he would do. It almost seems comical now that you cried watching him go on a school bus while he ran onto it with excitement. Although you constantly remind yourself that comparison is the thief of joy, it is hard sometimes. When others notice those distinct behaviors that make Miles different than other kids, I know you feel defensive. He is doing well, he will continue to do well, and he will blossom as he is meant to. Your feelings are protective because you worry about judgement from others but even at the age of 3 he is very independent. You must let him be his own person and know that you are doing your best to foster his growth. Give yourself grace.
If you take anything away from this letter it's to be more gentle, more understanding, more empathetic, more appreciative, and more kind to yourself. In addition to giving yourself grace, give yourself love.