postpartum bellyDear Postpartum, Hormonal, Completely Overwhelmed Self,

You’re probably a little bit gone right now. But that’s okay. I’ll talk anyway. I know you’re tired — no, exhausted beyond anything you’ve ever known. I know you’ve been up all night for the past 10 straight nights. I know the only thing you want is sleep, not for a few hours, not for a night — for a week and then some. I know the thought of moving forward and into another day is exhausting in itself and knowing that that you can’t call out sick, you can’t give up, it’s all on you, no matter what, is crushing.

I know it’s hard to picture everything being okay because you’re walking into the unknown with a weight you’ve never felt before and it seems like that will never fade.  I know that suddenly your body feels like an old woman. Crippled from hours of leaning over, feeding your child, from the grief of what you’ve lost and the weight of what you’ve gained all at the same time.

I know that everything is different now. There isn’t time to sit and think or talk with friends and pour your heart out. And it feels like you can’t catch your breath and nobody knows; nobody realized that you stopped breathing; that you haven’t taken a full breath in weeks; that you’re dying and growing a new soul and a new heart and it hurts when it’s happening. But it has to happen.

I know you can’t let go because you’re scared of what might crumble if you do. And the next feeding, the next diaper, the next uncontrollable scream that you’ll try for hours to soothe is lurking. It’s any moment. It’s coming.

I know you feel like you’ve lost it all, your youth, your freedom. The responsibility is endless and you’re right. There is no end in sight. You can’t go back.

So just let me say it, since you can’t. Since no one will believe you, since it hurts too much to even think it. Since it won’t make you feel better. But I’ve been through the judging and the misunderstanding and the “suck it ups” and so I’ll say it for you. This is hell. And it’s mean and it’s sweaty. And you will have to claw your way out from the bottom up. There it is.

But let me tell you what else I know.

I know that you are growing more now than you could have in 30 years; that you’re in the process of discovering how to live. You weren’t doing it before. You were existing and it’s not the same thing. If you want life, this is it: the good and the bad. It’s real and it will remake you if you let it.

You can move forward, but you have to embrace it all first. This is your life. Own it. Claim it. Breathe it in so that you can start to feel the earth shift. It will be slow at first and then faster and faster until you’re running to catch up.

You will find your way, but stop pushing back. You’ll only have farther to fall.

Trust your instincts and embrace your mistakes. There will be plenty and so there’s only more to learn. This is how we grow as mothers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes you will hear yourself talking and not recognize the sound of your voice but keep talking. Let go of negativity from others, but let your ears be open to their truths. Everywhere you look someone will say you’re doing it wrong, but don’t be so afraid of the bad that you forget to look at the good.

Go with it.

You’re going to be a great mom.

Love, You (a few years down the road)

(photo: aclockworkjordan)