Before I became pregnant for the first time, I had no clue all the ways my life would change. Mostly for the better but I also didn't know how drastically my hormones would shift as I maneuvered my way through severe postpartum depression (PPD) that left me unable to bond with my newborn daughter and literally fighting for my life every moment of every day. I still remember all the things I wanted to tell my newborn baby the moment I met her, flooding my thoughts like a monsoon, but all I could manage were the avalanche of tears as I tried to connect nine months of a hellish pregnancy to this tiny little being in my arms.
After a labor-intensive pregnancy that forced me into mandatory bedrest with an induction to follow, delivery ended up lasting only about 20 minutes of push time. There was an exact moment I went from chilled and in tremendous pain, to gathering all the strength I could muster to get her out of me. It was the first time I'd ever felt so close to being a real life superhero.
When they lifted her into the air for the room to see, she didn't make a sound. As she nuzzled beneath my chin after they placed her onto my chest, she looked up at me with her big, hopeful eyes, and I burst into tears. It didn't feel real; as a new mom, it didn't feel like she was my baby. And yet, my first instinct was to tell her all the things I've come to know about life and how she could someday rule the world. Those early moments we shared, the buzz of the room silenced between my ears. All I could see, and feel, was her and I knew then I'd die to protect her. Now, ten years later, the feeling is truer than ever.
Some of the things I wanted to tell her when she first emerged from my body are also truer than ever and, whether you're a first time mother, soon-to-be, or an experienced pro, I'm sure you've thought some of the very same sentiments below. As mothers, there's so much we want to share with our little ones and to pass on to the future generation so they'll know what life may bring in the event we're not here to witness it.
"I Love You More Than You'll Ever Understand"
Before my first baby, I'd heard about this "unconditional love" thing but coming from a childhood where I never felt secure or like I belonged anywhere, I didn't get it. I only knew what love felt like because of the way my greatest ally, my grandmother, took care of me. As for everyone else, it seemed to fluctuate and I could never tell how my closest family members felt about me at times. The meaning of love was lost on me for way too long and yes, this messed up many romantic relationships. Honestly, even now, with my partner of almost 13 years, I still question what "love" is; what it means to fully give your heart to another through the highs but especially the lows.
Then I gave birth and almost instantly understood those "feelings." While my postpartum intervened with the intensity, I knew I'd love my daughter more than I'd ever loved anything. It's the kind of love I still can't fully define (and may never), but feel in the depths of my being.
"I'm Sorry For All The Mistakes I've Made And Will Continue To Make"
I'm an imperfect being and this means I've done a lot wrong and despite my best intentions, I'll make many more mistakes as a mother. I wanted to tell my baby the very second she laid on my chest and her eyes met mine, that I'm sorry. For the past. For the future. Even for the present. I was definitely not worthy of the awesome responsibility of being a parent, but I swore to do everything in my power to at least try to learn from mistakes and do better the next time.
"You Can Be Anything You Want To Be"
My darling child, there will be a lot of people who'll try to knock you down, tell you you'll never be good enough, that you can't do the things you dream of. I want you to know they're all wrong. I knew when I saw my daughter, the world was hers and five years later when I had my son, it's his, too. If she wants to be a CEO or the President, she will be, and if he wants to be a stay-at-home-dad, he can be, and they'll both be fantastic.
I will support any endeavor they take on and I promise there will never be a louder, more enthusiastic cheerleader. My children, you can be anything. I promise you. Never doubt or undercut your abilities or interests. They'll serve you somehow if you work hard and never ever quit—even when the world thinks you should.
Life Can Be Hard But Also Amazing
So the thing about life is, it can be really terrible at times but on the other side of it are the most phenomenal rewards. I wanted my babies to know that no matter how difficult, how much life tests them, they can endure and come out even stronger. Their mother is proof.
I Don't Deserve You
When I found out I was pregnant the first time, it was unexpected. It was during a time when I was about to go back to school, my relationship with my partner was in doubt, and money was really tight. I hadn't anticipated becoming a mother at that time (not even a little bit).
When I gave birth to my daughter, as I wiped away tears, I wanted to tell her I didn't deserve her. I'd been awful to my body as I dealt with eating disorders, struggling with my path in life and how to get where I wanted to be, and I was unsure if her father and I could make it through all of the difficulties. I didn't deserve her. She needed a more mature, more responsible person to raise her at that time. While I'd grow and figure things out along the way, I never felt worthy of parenting this baby. Honestly, I still don't.
"Thank You For Opening This Vessel Of My Heart"
For the majority of my life I've lived with walls of steel built around me. It was difficult for others to really get to know me and I'd detached and disconnected from life in general. Being open to how others felt about me was too hard because I feared rejection that much.
These are things I still struggle with, to be sure, but I wanted to thank my baby for knocking some of those walls down. I immediately felt things I never knew I was capable of feeling. Without my kids, I don't know if I'd be who I am today. Thank you, my darlings, for prying open my heart and burrowing your way in so I could finally understand what it means to love someone this way.
"I'll Never Stop Trying To Be Better"
The very first thing I wanted to tell both of my children the moment they were handed to me was that, no matter what happens in life, I would never, ever stop trying to be a better version of myself than I was the day before. I will make mistakes and I will fail but I'll learn from them. I'll succeed and I'll do well, and I'll learn from that, too. Regardless of where life would decide to take us, I promised to be there for all the good and all the bad and no matter the outcome, we'd forge on.
Having children taught me more lessons than I ever could've imagined. Everyday I'm still taking it all in, striving to be whatever it is they need from me. The world is uncertain and scary and at times, and I'm not sure I know what the hell I'm doing. However, those first moments holding my newborn babies, the only thing that mattered was that I was there, committed to giving them the best lives possible so they could be whoever they're meant to be. So far, they're doing just fine.