A note to myself, before I became a mama


credit: Will Nunnally

Jack’s first birthday falls at end of this month. The thought of this had me sobbing hard in bed last week while he slept peacefully in his room. (This seemed strangely ironic, given our sleep struggles.) 


Many of the courageous, creative mamas I follow have written notes to their pre-mom selves that I found touching and inspiring. I offer mine, with the hope that it encourages you in your journey, whatever that may be.

Dear mama-to-be,

I see you obsessing over your baby checklist and your maternity leave to-do list and what to pack in your hospital bag. I see you waking up to pee at 3 a.m., quietly slipping into bed and lying wide awake starting at the ceiling, feeling baby kick in the dark. You are anxious and exhausted.

You are so OVER being pregnant. It’s been 38 weeks, you feel enormous and according to your app, your baby is the size of a watermelon. You are so ready for this little watermelon to get out.

The waiting . . . it’s hard.

For the first time your life, you don’t have a clear action plan for the future. Oh sure, you read some baby books, asked for advice (and heard some advice you didn’t ask for!), but the truth is, you’re terrified of what comes next.

In just a few weeks your world is going to turn upside down when you give birth to your son. This little boy will challenge and surprise you but most of all he will awaken in you a capacity to love you never knew you had.

Your sense of vocation will shift tremendously as you make room for your role as a mother. (It’s hard to imagine this now because I know you love work and find so much fulfillment in it.) There will be times that you will feel motherhood is your only calling, and times you will struggle to rise to the occasion.

There will come a day when your baby won’t stop crying, you won’t stop arguing with your husband, and you’ll wonder why you even signed up for this motherhood thing. You’ll feel like you’re doing a terrible job, making mistakes left and right, and that you’re going to ruin your child’s life forever.

Your body and your spirit might even feel broken, too.

Don’t. Give. Up. You are doing a good job, mama. You will get through this. With a lot of prayer. And coffee. And lactation cookies.

Your hard work will be rewarded when your son gifts you his first real smile, his first-ever belly laugh.

You will encounter bursts of wonder and joy in still, small moments: the intoxicating smell of your baby’s head, the way he notices the world around him, the rise and fall of his little chest as he dreams. These moments will sustain you.

I bet you’re probably wondering about your body. Yes, it will never be quite the same, but you’ll gain a much healthier appreciation for it after giving birth. And you will lose the baby weight, with time.

Unfortunately you will also lose touch with some of your friends–or your relationships will shift because you just can’t relate as much. On the other hand, you’ll gain life experience that connects you more deeply with your own parents, old friends, new friends, coworkers, neighbors, taxi drivers and strangers in the grocery store.

You’ ll still be you–open-hearted, ebullient, anxious, sensitive. Motherhood will stir up a hunger to write and create that’s been hidden away inside of you since childhood. This will feel like coming home.

These things will make life really hard for a season: breastfeeding, Jack’s sleep (or lack thereof), work/motherhood.

The good news: it all gets better.

Being with your son and family will become your most treasured time. Protect it. Savor it. Enjoy it. Take pictures. Remember it. Let it fill you up.

Some days you’ll find yourself longing for a night out (sans baby), but when you finally experience one you’ll enjoy it but your heart will ache for your son. (Get out anyway, and get used to that feeling–it never goes away.)

Exercise was hard for you last year (the morning sickness didn’t help!). After your son is born, you’ll get back on your yoga mat with a renewed sense of vigor. This will become your go-to form of self-care, which you learn is key to mothering well.

I know this is all a bit overwhelming, but I need you to hear this loud and clear: as a new mother, you will doubt yourself more than you ever have. Trust yourself, mama. You love your baby with all of your heart, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

You’re about to start the greatest adventure of your life.


Your future self (a mama of an almost-one-year-old 😭)

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me! Have you ever written a letter to yourself? Are you on the cusp of a major life change? I’d love to hear from you.

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