One of my best friends recently had a baby. In helping to plan her mother blessing – a take on a baby shower inspired by Native American traditions that instead center the mother – I asked all of her guests to write a letter that she could read postpartum, on a hard day, because hard days were sure to come.
I thought I would share it here, as the words I brought together for my friends are words that I wish I could tell my past self as I started nascent motherhood in the eye. I have edited it slightly, removing aspects tailored to my friend.
You did it and you are doing it!
If you only have 1 minute, here’s a TLDR: Be gentle with yourself, smell your baby’s head all the time (so delicious), eat, sleep, nipple balm, cry, laugh, watch films that make you laugh, take baths, listen to beautiful music, cookies, peanut butter, trust your intuition, ask for help, keep moisturising your belly, soak your asshole 🌈
You were a mother long before this little soul chose you as its mother, and you have always been, were always going to be, and will always be, the best mother.
Now, you step into a new phase of motherhood, and with a partner who is your loving equal. You have conceived a baby, called down a soul, incubated that growing little human, and then worked with them, labouring in tandem to bring them into this world, and holy fuck, what a ride. When that little babe tumbled into this world, you not only birthed them, but yourself.
Take all the time that you need, and then some more.
Sometimes, it will feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, or that you’re doing everything wrong – you’re doing exactly the right things, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be and you are exactly who your baby needs right now. Just being you, being with your child and holding space for them to feel things vividly is everything. So that you can hold space for your babe, reach out to people you love to hold space for you.
You’ll fall more in love with your baby everyday. However you feel about your babe, however much you love them, is the right amount. You’re building a lifelong relationship and it might take time.
Things will simultaneously feel like they go on forever, and don’t last long enough. Savour those milky, newborn days. They feel endless, but they disappear in the blink of an eye.
Get to know your new body and be gentle, loving and appreciative of it. Having a baby, you not only build a new relationship with baby, and yourself as a mother, but also with your body. It took 9 months to make your baby, and for your body to stretch and grow to house them. Be generous and give your body 9 months, if not more, to heal and relax.
Lean on friends, ask mothers in your life for advice and say yes to the help. We have been so conditioned to do it all, to not rely on people and that is such bullshit, especially now! Think of the Viet ancestors birthing and raising babies in community. Accept all the help. You have a community that loves you, let them love on you.
An idea that has echoed within me since having my daughter is that having a child is this unconscious agreement to have your heart live outside your body for the rest of your life. I know, no big deal right?! It’s still something I am getting used to living with, this overwhelming love and vulnerability, strength and flexibility, gentleness and power. Mothers are complex, whole and contains multitudes.
You are so loved and this baby is already so loved. When you’re deciding how to take care of your little babe, do what feels right for the you, it will seem wrong to some and perfect to others.