An hour ago I felt her move.
The calendar will tell you it’s been almost 6 months since I had tiny feet in my ribcage, but I know better. It’s barely been an hour.
Ten minutes ago they put her on my chest for the first time. I was embarrassed that the only thing I could think to say was “HOLY SHIT” but what else do you say when they put a fresh-out-the-womb new human on your chest?
It must have been ten minutes ago.
Just a second ago she smiled at me for the first time. We were snuggled up on the couch and my excited screaming scared her so badly that by the time my husband rushed into the room the poor thing was in tears. But I saw it, that sweet little smile. Just now.
When people tell you time flies when you have a baby, the common reaction is to roll your eyes and say, “ yeah ok”. We know better. Time can’t go much faster. If you share some memes about cherishing every moment you’re safe. Keep a “mindfulness journal” and the time gremlins can’t get you.
And then you blink and it’s been a month. And another. And another and another and another.
A baby is a snowball barrelling down a hill, picking up speed and size at a rate you can’t keep up with. You will wake up every morning thinking “is this my kid? Did someone switch her in the middle of the night? This is a different baby.” You can never go back. You will never be able to experience them like this again. I can never feel my little moonbeam squirm in my womb again. I can have other pregnancies and other babies but it’s not the same, and I’ll blink and they’ll grow up, too.
Every day I see new moms fretting over the next new skill, chasing milestones. As soon as babies are born we start pushing them to be smarter, to grow faster.
Mamas, please. Let them be little.
Breathe in the scent of your newborn and don’t think about when they’ll start smiling, laughing, rolling, sitting, crawling, walking. Hold them tight and don’t worry about who or what they will be. These are questions for later.
I would like to go back a year. I would like to go back and tell my first-trimester self to slow down. To appreciate every second for what it is, to stop fixating on the next step.
I would like to go back 6 months and beg myself to stop trying to coax her out. To stop chugging red raspberry leaf tea, stop gorging myself on dates and pineapples and spicy food. To lay on the couch with my hand on my belly and appreciate our last days together instead of spending every waking moment bouncing on an exercise ball. To breathe as deeply as I can with a big ole baby squishing my lungs. We will never be that close again, just breathe.
I would like to plead with my current-day self to stop expecting more of my baby. To stop watching her grow and asking, “what’s next?” To let the dishes pile up, to let the laundry go unwashed. To hold her while she will let me hold her. To savor her smallness while I can, before she starts slamming doors and rolling her eyes.
In ten years I will look back on this post and I will laugh. I will laugh and laugh and laugh and say, “You had no idea what you were talking about. You couldn’t have imagined how quickly the last ten years have gone by. You had no clue.”
And I’m sure that’s true. I’m sure my friends with older kids are scoffing at this right now. “You think that’s bad? Wait until your baby goes off to college.” My mom (my biggest fan, hi mom!) is going to see this and shake her head. “You won’t understand until you watch your baby become a mother. One day you’re changing diapers and the next day she has a baby of her own. Then you’ll understand.”
But right now, friends, I’m looking at her sweet sleeping face and my heart aches. Slow down, tiny angel. Slow down, Mama. Slow down.