Hey, it’s me. I heard the news. Congratulations, you’re gonna have a baby! What a blessing–sweet #4.
Did you ever think you’d have four kids? Me either. Isn’t is crazy where life brings us? I bet you’re excited. I bet Elaina is really excited! Good thing you were planning on moving– that house you live in is small with three kids. Can you imagine 6 people in 1,000 square feet? Me either! Anyway, I’m excited for you (I really am), but you know I always have to be painfully honest with you–it’s kind of our thing. So, in the spirit of painful honesty, I have to tell you I’m worried.
I’m not worried about the four kids part. You’ve done this thing three times before. You know how to birth a baby and you know how to embrace the chaos while raising the baby. You know how to have breakdowns when you forget to embrace the chaos and you know how to forgive yourself. Yes, four kids sounds like a lot of kids, I know, but you have an awesome husband and you guys will rock this! Some days will be hard days and some days will be great days, and so goes life. Raising 4 kids you can definitely do, I’m sure of it. But, about this pregnancy part….I’m not so sure.
I need you to admit to me that you lose your mind every time you get pregnant. You need to recognize this because things have to be different this time and the first step is acknowledging the behavior. Listen, I know that pregnancy makes you sick and tired and that you feel like you’re in a fat suit. I know you are hot and that you can never seem to get comfortable. I understand that you feel hideous and that you’re always hungry. I get it, I really do. But you have to understand that all of those things are no excuse to become an insane person. Nine months is a really, really long time for your kids to have a mean mama and for your husband to have to walk on eggshells, right? Don’t you agree? I know you do.
You have got to hold yourself together this time. You’ve got to keep the temper tantrums and the meltdowns to a minimum. I haven’t quite figured out how to help you do that yet, but I’m working on it. Our spiritual director wants you to try relaxation exercises. She’s been talking to you about staying in the moment to avoid anxiety. She’s a genius so I’m sure she has a point. I have a running list of things we can try, too, like giving yourself permission to lock the bathroom door and taking a bath so you can regroup or like making sure you start each day with prayer. Oh yeah, and keep on taking that 15 minute pause before speaking when you’re angry. Some of this might work and some of it might not.
I think the key is to take care of yourself. You need to be gentle and patient with yourself, and you need to remember that pregnant self care probably looks very different than non-pregnant self care. Make sure you keep writing. The last thing you need to do is lose yourself. You lose yourself way too often and way too easily. Fight for yourself. Remember that you are a person outside of motherhood. Your personhood matters. Make sure you keep talking to God. He may not remove your crazy, but He will carry you through this. He is your center and you will really need a center these next nine months.
This time has to be different, ok? You cannot let your emotions dictate your actions. You just can’t. Feel free to cry at commercials or take naps when the kids nap, that’s all fine, but, please, do not give yourself a free pass to be mean, and, whatever you do, don’t let yourself sink into depression! If you become so sick that you start feeling depressed, pleeeease take the nausea meds–that’s what they’re for! Promise me you’ll take the nausea meds this time. Seriously. There is no “Pregnancy Without Pills” award and we’re not in it for awards anyway, we just need to survive.
Above all, you need to forgive yourself quickly and often. You’re not going to magically morph into a laid back person-we both know that! You are going to have mood swings and you’re going to get angry for virtually no reason. You’re going to mess up because (newsflash) you’re not perfect. Please work on understanding that, by the way. Write it on the fridge or something. You’re almost 30. It’s time to really understand. Say it with me: “I am not perfect.” Messing up is ok. Take a breath, apologize and move on. That’s it. That’s all you can do. You’re not doing anyone any favors when you sulk about your mistakes. So, wipe yourself off and start again. Often.
Listen, we’ll re group soon, but you’ve got this. You can do this. You have no choice, really. One day at a time, ok? And, if you need, one moment at a time. This pregnancy thing is temporary and you get a gorgeous Vallette baby at the end. You will be able to drink beer again and stay up past 9:00. I promise. So, buck up buttercup, your family needs you. You need you.