a letter to myself at 5 weeks postpartum.

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Emmy at 5 weeks versus Emmy at 5 months.

Hey there,

I know, it’s pretty ballsy of me to be writing to you – I mean, I only have 17 weeks of motherhood on you, so I must be feeling pretty good about myself. I know it’s hard to imagine right now, in the thick of the fourth trimester, but things are going to get better. That Benjamin Button-looking, string bean blob in front of you is going to become a tiny person – and seriously, the day she first smiles at you on purpose – all double chins and pink gums – everything else will disappear.

But that won’t happen for awhile yet.

The pediatrician recently delivered the news to you that Emmy hasn’t been gaining the weight she should have been, and now you cry every time you have to supplement feed her formula. You also cry while you’re working your butt off, feeding her on one boob, pumping on the other, swapping, then bottle feeding her back whatever was pumped, and then putting her down so you can pump both boobs for another 10 minutes. Alex is back to work now too, so its just you, Emmy, and our dog, Riley. And everyone is looking to you to love them and know what to do next.

No one ever said that motherhood was going to be easy, but for sure, no one ever told us it was going to be THIS hard, this early.

Spoiler alert: breastfeeding isn’t going to work out for us. We’ll see two lactation consultants and we’ll take all the fenugreek, Boobie Bars, lactation treats and Mother’s Milk tea that can be safely consumed. We’ll also refuse to see anyone for a week so we can take a “nursing vacation” – we’ll sit on the couch, demand feed Emmy and finish season one of Big Little Lies in two days, surrounded by empty bags of pretzels and plantain chips. We’ll get up at 2am and use our hospital grade pump to power pump for an hour, over and over again. We’ll get acupuncture, hoping that those little needles will open up whatever blocked qi is screwing our milk supply. We’re going to do it all, and, unfortunately, we’re going to be really mean to ourselves every step of the way.

There are more dark days than you realized there would be this early on – and strangely, they are all related to what Emmy is eating. There are some days when you feel yourself tipping over the precipice, and all you can think about is how you’ve already let your baby down. Over and over again, those dark thoughts come back until you don’t even hear them anymore, they are just part of your daily mantra: I am not enough, I am a disappointment.

But I’m here to tell you that we make it through. That Emmy, yes, she is formula-fed, but she is thriving – and so are you. You love being a mother, and Emmy loves being your kid – her face lights up and her legs kick with joy whenever she sees you. Someday, you will actually look forward to bottle-feeding Emmy, because she will use both hands to hold your fingers as you feed her, and she will look up at you and smile, milk running down her chubby cheeks and into the folds that make up her neck. There’s going to come a day where you’ll wonder why you wasted so many of those early, precious, Benjamin Button days wrecking yourself over breastfeeding.

But all of that won’t happen for awhile yet.

So in the meantime, I hope you’ll try to be kinder to yourself and remember – you are all that this baby needs. You were meant to be her mother, and you deserve a little grace too.

Hang in there champ – and see you in 17 weeks.

Love and kisses,
Future You

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how a wrinkled blanket became my first metaphor for motherhood.

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How Emmy really feels about these monthly pictures.
Emmy is 5 months old today. So, as with the past 4 times she turned a month older, I got her dressed in her cutest outfit, arranged her monthly milestone blanket on the rug in her nursery, and proceeded to take about 1000 photos of her while shaking a toy above her head and using my highest pitch voice and best nonsense words to try and elicit a giggle or smile from her.

 

If you had asked me before I became a mother if I would be doing monthly photos of my kid, I would most definitely have said no. Not because I have anything against them, but more because the idea of getting myself together enough to actually remember to do something like this on a monthly basis would seem absurd to me even before a tiny human was depending on me to keep them alive. Honestly, its a good month when I remember to give our dog her flea medicine on the right day (the 17th of every month, reminders welcome).

 

So, when I received the milestone blanket from coworkers as a gift, I told myself I would at least do the first month as a courtesy. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon on Emmy’s one month before I even realized what day it was. It was also the first time I actually opened the milestone blanket – and found out it was a wrinkly muslin square.

 

Friends, I was at a crossroads: do I bust out the ironing board and iron the thing? MacGyver a way to hang it from the ceiling and steam it? Do I just say screw it, shove it back into the closet, and pretend like I never received it in the first place? Or, horror of horrors, do I use it as is, all wrinkles and uneven edges, Emmy’s striped rug peeking out around the borders, and allow everyone to see that I do not have any of this cute mom stuff handled?

 

I’m very proud to say that we’re on the fifth monthly picture and I have absolutely no intention of ironing the damn blanket. If being a mother for five months has taught me anything, it’s that life is guaranteed to be imperfect, that there are very, very few things I am actually in control of, and that embracing these facts are part of motherhood, wrinkles and all. I’ve also found that I look forward to these monthly photos with Emmy and taking the time to acknowledge and commemorate that we both made it another month wiser, both a little pudgier, and very much loving every moment we have together.