Before you came along, I thought I knew an awful lot. As it turns out, there is even more that I didn’t know.
First of all, I knew that there would be a significant lack of sleep. No one held back when informing me of this fact…
“Enjoy the sleep before he comes! You’ll never sleep a full night for the next 18 years…”
I knew there would be night feeds, night nappy changes, night cuddles, night kisses, bleary eyes and days spent in a fog of exhaustion whilst bouncing you on my hip day in, day out. I was prepared for that, but I didn’t know that when they say you’ll be tired, that ‘tired’ is entirely the wrong word. Even ‘exhausted’ doesn’t do it justice in the slightest. There is no word for that bone-deep, brain-fizzing state of being when you’ve not had enough REM sleep. All you think about is your bed. Closing your eyes just for 30 precious seconds. Wait. Stop. You’re in my arms and I can’t risk anything happening to you. Overcoming the all-consuming urge to sleep every day until you started sleeping for longer periods… It was worth it, because your short sleep cycles were normal and a protection against the dreaded SIDS. I’d forgo anything to keep you safe.
I didn’t know just how much you’d need me. Of course, I knew you’d need lots of nurturing from your mama; the cuddles and snuggles, tickles and kisses, this I dreamt of every single day of my pregnancy. What I didn’t know was that there would be this entire whole trimester… We’re all taught about one, two and three. How a baby grows. When labour is imminent. But the fourth trimester? I felt like I’d been thrown into an entirely different country where I didn’t speak your language, couldn’t communicate through body language or sign language, can you imagine?! But we got there, me and you. We learned the language of love, somehow.
I didn’t know the pure, simple joy in a hot shower and a fresh outfit! Oh my goodness, the BLISS. I didn’t know how easy it would become to forget the simple things like self-care… My hair became a disaster, my wardrobe became a floor-drobe featuring milk stains and takeaway grease, but once we got into the swing of things, it became easier. I never take these things for granted these days!
I didn’t appreciate my family and friends anywhere near enough, before you came along. They say that becoming a parent shows you who really cares – this is so true. Even the smallest gestures become the most awesome acts of kindness. You grandparents would (and still do) have you for a few hours here and there to let me nap, shower and eat something that wasn’t from the freezer, my friends would (and again, still do) carry you for me when we went out and you refused to sit in your pram, they’d even hold you to let me eat my dinner when we went to restaurants! Absolute saints, the special people in my life are, and it’s all thanks to you that I can see just how precious they are (of course, I always knew they were special before – just now I see it even more).
I didn’t truly know the value of money. Let’s face it, you can be a sensible spender even before having a family, and many people start saving as soon as they get their first job, but there are also people like me who saw every spare penny as more to spend on things that we actually don’t need. Disposable income? I certainly did ‘dispose’ it… and the things I paid thousands for, I don’t see the benefit of these days. I wish I’d saved that money. Now, as a parent, the future is more important than ever before. The what-ifs, the maybe’s, the rainy days and the sick days. Financial stability has a newfound place of importance in my life, and you motivate this.
I didn’t know the joy of seeing a person grow up from scratch. This is probably a pretty cliché, overdone sentiment repeated a thousand times over in other open letters but SERIOUSLY. Wow. The things that the human body can do – me and your daddy made you! You took root somewhere deep inside me when you were smaller than a full stop, I nourished you physically and you nourished me emotionally as you carried on growing, sprouting adorable long limbs and kicking the living daylights out of me. You arrived, screaming and red and so beautiful, more breathtaking than anything I had ever seen, and then we carried on nourishing each other from the outside. I never knew how much happiness I could get from a single smile, a giggle, seeing you learning every day, even your shitty nappies bring some level of satisfaction. I love being your mum so much that even the gross things are fabulous!
I didn’t know how much I’d grow to LOVE nursery rhymes. This is one I’m sure all parents will relate to, hard. Row, row row your boat and the wheels on the bus are favourites in this house, and long gone are the days where I found children’s songs repetitive and annoying. Actually, scratch that last bit, they’re still pretty irritating especially if they’ve been on loop all day but becoming your mum seems to have built a tolerance level up that I never knew I had!
I didn’t know how much your silly little quirks would make me laugh. The cheeky faces, hyper moments, the gurning, made-up songs and gobbledegook entertain me and daddy on a daily basis and we especially love it when we capture those candid moments on camera…
I didn’t know how much I loved your daddy. Well, of course I knew I was deeply, madly in love with him and that we’re soulmates, but I felt naive when I saw him cradling you in his arms for the first times, and all the times after that. I felt naive that I’d thought that there was no way I had the capacity to love him more than I did before you came along, it felt like my already full heart had expanded like a balloon, and that it would pop if I loved him any more, but it didn’t. It continues to grow, and grow, and grow.
And finally, I didn’t know how much I could possibly love you. There really is no measure of a mother’s love – ‘to the moon and back’ is a cute sentiment but woefully inadequate. I could say that I love you right down to my bones – nope, it doesn’t do it justice. How about I love you more than anything? True, but still not hitting the mark. I never knew that I could love and value a person more than my own life and my own well-being, my own hopes, and my own dreams. It’s all about you now, baby boy. You shook my universe on its axis and now you are at the center, it all orbits around you. I love you.
Do you know an expectant parent? Share this with them – there’s nothing like preparation before the big day!
Love from Katie. Xx