Dear pregnant Carrie
Oh, you. You are so full.
Full of worry. Full of wonder. And wonderings.
What you think matters now will cease to matter in one single swooping gush of life. So don’t borrow trouble. Put away the labour preparation books, and begin readying your nest.
Trust me, birth will take care of itself.
For the first six weeks of motherhood (or twelve, if you can swing it), while you care for your little one, ask others to care for you. Have three meals and two snacks made for you each day. Demand deliciousness. Your body and your baby need nutrients but also the pleasure of good eating. Hire a massage therapist to come once each week – you will need support with your injuries. Ask her to use warmed organic sesame oil with chamomile. Have craniosacral therapy for yourself and baby right away. And rest. Rest and rest. YOU HAVE JUST GIVEN BIRTH. Rest. Hold your baby constantly. Have time and space to learn each other. Press her heart to yours. Honour your syncing. Drink lots of water. Let your husband bring you a glass every time you nurse. Ask him to make you restorative herbal infusions and teas (and frozen pads!!!). Stay in your pyjamas for the full six weeks so no one forgets that you are still healing and hurting. And resting.
This time in your life will never come again. Protect its sanctity.
Luxuriate in the sensuality of pregnancy. This time, too, is sacred and it’s a short nine months. Use that sensitive pregnant nose to smell every rose you can. Massage your skin in scented oils. Eat summer-ripe fruit. Let mango juice drip off your chin and raspberries stain your fingertips. Have fun being fat.
A man with an Irish accent will stop where you’re sitting to tell you that you are beautiful. Believe him. You are. Roundness suits you.
When next you see her, hug your doula. In some of your most vulnerable moments, you’ll find your hand in hers and you’ll feel like it’s really possible to take another breath and push another push.
You will not get stretch marks but you will become soft. And you will tear. You will hurt for seven months, and some. You will find the right help. It will be okay.
For a time, you will feel broken. You will be broken. Admire the pieces, scattered about. Aspects of what you thought you were – your personality, your body, your life. Admire them as you sweep it all into the dustbin.
It would be crazy not to. Into the first cries from your baby’s lungs, a beautiful life — the one you made for yourself — will be gulped. At first, it will seem like nothing is left. You will feel alone, gasping. There is no shame in crying and no pride in feigned joy.
Grief is not an absence of courage. Or of love.
You don’t know this now — you can only suspect — but your husband will be your hero. He will hold your hips through 30 hours of back labour, aching himself without one word of complaint. You will urinate on him. You will defecate on him. You will bleed on him. And he won’t flinch. You will test him and test him and test him and test him and test him. And there, beside you, he will stand.
And you will lean.
Pressing more and more weight into his shoulder until, finally, you confess to him your secrets. One evening, when you can no longer hold it, you will tell him you’ve been praying for death. You will tell him you’re certain your daughter should be raised by someone else, that she hates you. That you are empty and useless and vile. You will show him how fractured you are. And he will not be horrified. He will simply open his hands to show the pieces of you he has held safe. And he will hold you as you cry.
Reach out. Again and again, reach out. John and Nicola will recognize your postpartum depression (because, no, you’re not worthless; you’re unwell and its a condition so common it has a name) and will give you supplements to help. Sherry will tell you what to eat. Ananda and Mahalia will make remedies and tinctures. Allison will hold your crying baby on a very long Sunday. Laura will help you when breastfeeding is hard (and for you, it will be hard). Your mom — be so nice to your mother, Carrie, because she will come through for you in such a big way — your mom will bring comfort in the form of food (how new nursing moms ache with hunger!) and, above all, in the form of understanding. You are not beyond being understood.
When she’s born, your daughter (yes, you’re having a girl!) will have pearl black eyes. She will be beautiful, more beautiful than you can imagine. She will not smile. No one else will tell you this and somehow you won’t have read it, but babies can’t smile for the first many weeks. When she cries and cries, grim-faced and anguished, she will seem thankless, complaints her only carol. But, so slowly, majestically, that mouth will curve, and those eyes — those eyes! — they will turn from black to blue-green. In them, you’ll see the ocean waves of Tulum where you honeymooned with her father. And you will realize that it has happened.
You’ve fallen in love again.
With your husband. With your daughter. With your life. With the parts of yourself that are Mother, surfacing.
And it will be good.
Carrie Klassen writes about (and sometimes photographs) things she finds beautiful. She helps others find their words at PinkElephantCreative.com, and she shares her own at CarrieKlassen.com. Carrie is currently writing a book, and she’d love your psychic nod of encouragement.
Organized under love letters.