Open Letter to a pregnant friend and anyone else who will listen,

By now you have heard more advice than you ever thought was humanly possible to have heaped on one set of shoulders. Well I've got some more for you. Undoubtedly you've heard a couple of pearls a few times over.

First, I know you've heard this one so often it starts to sound like a matra - stock up on sleep now. Right. Like if you could hibernate through your final trimester those stores of sleep would carry you through the early sleep starved stages of parenthood. Face it, what sleep you get now isn't going to matter then. This is not to mention that merely suggesting "gather sleep while ye may" to a very pregnant woman is nothing short of cruel. Your body is no longer your own. The little person who has taken up residence in your womb now owns your once girlish figure. You sleep with so many pillows tucked around you at night your husband wonders if you're even in bed anymore or are you merely trying to fool him with a pile of fluff. Your bladder is more tissue paper than steel that its gotten to the point where you get up to pee more often than you actually sleep a decent stretch.

Besides, let's just be real for a minute. Yes, you will loose sleep once baby arrives. And yes, even when you reach that blessed point where your child 'sleeps through the night' you will have nights where you wonder if it was even worth unmaking your bed. These are the times those with good intentions speak of when they cluck their tongues and bid you to store up now. But, again, let's be real. Those very same experienced people stand before you alive and seemingly sane enough to not be committed somewhere. The survived sleep deprivation and you will to.

Second, many a mom has pleaded with you to not rush forward too quickly. To keep that baby a baby for as long as you can. They'll tell you how bittersweet it is to see your once wholly-dependent child take those first steps. They'll talk about how fast it's all gone. One day you cradle them gently being careful not to let their head tip back - the day they're driving off to college. Yes, it goes fast, but here's where my real advice comes in.

Live today. Yesterday is something to keep in a scrapbook. You can linger over it when you get a rare free moment over the next several decades. You can remember what it represents but don't lament its passing.

Tomorrow is lying before you. Its something to plan for, something to consider, but not to obsess over. Don't expend so much energy on tomorrow that you ignore today. Tomorrow will always be this thing that exists just beyond your grasp. The present is all you can directly impact at any given moment.

And so yes, today. Live within this day. Savor every moment with your child but don't forget to also make moments for your spouse and yourself. Don't get so caught up in being Mom that you stop being Woman and Wife. Remember none of those facets is complete without the other two.

Every stage your child passes through will be more miraculous than the one before it. I still remember holding my days old son close to me marveling what a miracle he was. I remember the awe he inspired by merely breathing in a set rhythm - his body's cadence matching my own. I remember distinctly thinking how amazing it was to watch him stare at things. Knowing that he was unable to mobilize and get to whatever it is had his attention. He wasn't able to verbalize what he saw or question it. But he could study it and study it he did. I learned so much about myself from those early days. I learned to stop rushing and take time to really stop and study the small things. I learned that even a cloud dotted blue sky can be worth a few minutes of consideration. I learned that everything is wondrous and new if you let it be.

Then he learned to sit up and began to explore his surroundings. I will be honest, I didn't really miss that blob stage. I enjoy interacting with my son. I like watching him test and experiment. This was a wonderful stage of his development and one that will never come to an end. The mundane was suddenly exciting again. A simple block held such possibility.

Next came walking and talking. He may be only 18 months old, but I am his student. Through him I've come to understand the nuances of my very own language. The way sounds are formed. The confusing nature of a single sound spelled so many different ways and meaning different things. I, eye, Aye. I wonder how it is we ever learn to differentiate and yet he does. I can see the wheels turning in that little head.

I watch his eyes fill with understanding. I see his absolute delight and pride when he's accomplished a new skill - hearing his excited, proud little voice calling out "Mommy! I DID IT!" When is it that we loose that ability to find great joy in small accomplishments. When did we ever toss out the small goals to focus on just the big, overwhelming and seemingly unattainable.

Before I know it we will move to another stage. I will tuck this raw little person into a scrapbook and I will watch a work in progress move to the next level. I will smile when I look at the video and the pictures. Perhaps still shake my head in amazement that he survived all the climbing and running. I will watch him step off the school bus from his first day of school or climb out of his first car. . .still smiling with absolute delight and pride.
These stages as wondrous as the ones before them

Yes, friend, each milestone is to be celebrated then moved on from. Don't linger too long that you fail to appreciate the next small step for your little person. There is no holding back. This child of yours will grow and become adult some day. Just hug your dear one tight every chance you get. Inhale the smell of baby deeply every day. Savor the moment and live today.

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