No one can resist a baby. I don't care if you're the toughest, macho man alive - a gummy grin from any squirmy little baby just warms your heart. Everything from their innocents, to their tiny adorable features, to their complete dependency, make babies irresistible! I knew all this before having one of my own, but something definitely turned on in my soul that very moment I became a mother.
We had moved out of town in January 08. Until September of 08, I spent half of the week at my parent's house so that I could work for 3 days and then I made the 2 hour drive home where I spent the remaining portion of the week. When I became 9 months pregnant, I stopped working and commuting to spent the remainder of my pregnancy getting the house (and myself) ready for baby. I had a lot of time to imagine how my life was going to change. What would it be like to finally have this little baby, who has been making a home inside of me for 9 months, here on the outside - in my arms and in our lives. I was consumed with "Pregnancy" books from conception to 7-8 months. Then I realized I hadn't the slightest clue as to what I was suppose to do when my little man finally arrived. So I took a break from that content and focused on "Baby" books. I had no idea how much/often a baby is suppose to eat, suppose to sleep, suppose to poo/pee... how would I ever design a system that worked? How would I know what my child needed? Well - I read everything out there... and barely remembered any of it when my son was born! Naturally, the last month of my pregnancy was back to focusing on the inevitable - there was only 1 way out of this predicament... how in the world is my body going to DO THAT?
Well - my body DID THAT and thankfully went back to normal after a few too many post partum complications that I wasn't ready for. I actually surprised myself as to how calm I was when I realized - "this is it!". I had just my 39 week OB check up and was starting to contract on the way home. Within a few hours I was back at the hospital, dressed in a gown and hooked up to a couple different IVs. Sparing a bit of unpleasant details that many of us will never forget... my son was born after 40 mins. of pushing. The first wave of reality hit me when my OB placed my son on my abdomen and I felt the weight of his son on top of me. I remember thinking he felt much heavier that I would have anticipated (only weighed 7lbs. 3oz). But when that weight was inside of you, it's completely different. He didn't cry right away so the nurse took him to the "warming station" - as I like to call it - and got him crying in no time. I was jealous because my husband got to watch them clean him off and take his first breath. After a few minutes they brought my son back to me, wrapped in a number of blankets and the tiny pink and blue striped hospital hat. It didn't seem real to me. Everything from that evening had progressed so fast and I couldn't have imagined at 3pm earlier that day that I would have delivered my son later that night. The second wave of reality hit me when I unwrapped his blankets and placed him skin to skin on my chest, he lifted his head up and stared right into my face. I was speechless, breathless and amazed - I can only imagine that these emotions I had welling up inside of me, would be a fraction of what seeing God face to face would feel like. That moment I will never forget. My husband actually captured that moment on film and I will forever have it on my nightstand table. I told my husband - "That was the moment my entire life changed".
From that moment on I was indited into the Hall of Motherhood. And everyday since I have come to experience yet another duty of my motherly role. In the beginning, I was overwhelmed by these new emotions that were flooding my system. I couldn't believe how much I loved this little boy. I was certainly in love when I was pregnant, but that multiplied when I have him in your arms. Naturally, the hormones would bring on a good cry at least every other day. We struggled with breastfeeding for the first week, that was very hard on me. It was something I just didn't think would be so difficult. I was told ahead of time "It's a learned skill and it takes time", well that never sunk in - because it was A LOT more challenging that I anticipated. I remember having a serious melt down after a failed attempt one afternoon and my husband tried to gather the shattered pieces that were left of me after bawling. I simply said "But I just love him so much!" through my snot ridden tears. My son would not stay latched on and I was cracked and bleeding since the first feeding in the hospital. Each attempt was horrendously painful and had a low success rate of completely a feeding which was even more depressing. The next week got better and eventually we got the hang of how it was suppose to work. I would say that was my first challenge as a mother. I refused to give up. I don't have anything against formula feeding, I just knew that breastfeeding was for me - and I wasn't going to doubt my decision. I needed to keep trying for my son. I overcame that obstacle.
My second challenge came when my son was 3 weeks old. I was hosting a holiday at our new house. I truly wanted (and fully intended) on being a good host for both sides of our immediate families. But I didn't realize how much I desperately wanted to be with my son that day as well. It was wonderful that everyone got their chance to hold the baby and socialize. I had intended on making the selected foods and setting the table, getting out the drinks - and didn't do any of it. My mind was so scatter brained because every time I heard my son crying, I would lose track of what I was trying to accomplish. My mother and sister in law took over the dinner prep while I ran between feeding my son and changing diapers - passing him to another family member, picking up after the nephews and being a bit overwhelmed at how loud and chaotic my house was. My parents and in laws tried to tell me this would be difficult as a "mom of only 3 weeks" before the holiday and I wouldn't listen. I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in our new home for both of our families, with our new baby. But my biggest challenge was at one point of the night when my son was inconsolable. My mother in law (bless her heart) took my son into his nursery and trying rocking him to sleep (he wasn't able to sleep prior due to the loud atmosphere that he wasn't accustomed to). I knew she wanted to help me because she knew he needed to sleep, but I could hear him crying from the kitchen and it broke my heart. My husband knew something was upsetting me and I starting crying to him saying I just wanted to hold my baby, he needed me. (Or in reality - I need him). I couldn't get him to sleep any better than my mother in law could have, but it made me feel like I was doing my job by rocking him myself.
I have spent that last 7 months watching the gift that God has sent to me and my husband, grow and start to explore. I am a nut with the video camera and digital camera. There isn't one thing I have not documented either on film or on this blog or his many baby books. We have seen my son start to follow objects with his eyes, to making eye contact (oh - how excited we were when he actually "looked" to us). Those first smiles were so amazing and every one that follows is just has precious. He transformed from a tiny, slow moving rooting newborn to an active, attached, happy 7 month old baby. He is sitting up and reaching out. He "talks" all day long and lights up when either my husband or I walk into sight.
I have not just leaped - I have actually catapulted up the ladder of patience and understanding. Prior to having my son, screaming babies at restaurants drove me crazy. Now - I don't even hear it! Seeing a toddler acting out at the grocery store, before I would think "Man, lady - control your kid!" Now I think "Oh, that poor Mom, she must be have a hard day." This new acceptance of tolerance I have now did not develop with time. I just "turn on" the first time I went into public with my son. Like I said, a whole new level of emotions come with motherhood - patience and understanding being right up there with love and tenderness. I have even adopted the "Mommy sway". This is my name for the motion a mother does while holding a child. She simply sways slowly from side to side. I notice I still do this even when I am not holding my son. HA! I can not wait for the day that I hear "Mama". Or for the time when he will again lay his head on my shoulder and fall asleep in my arms. He is too interactively distracted to get sleepy while I hold him. I can not wait to see everything unfold.
I have enjoyed every minute of motherhood. I have taken on the early hardships of breastfeeding and the ability to fall asleep on command due to lack of sleep, with every gummy smile and burst of laughter that are projected from my little baby. I love this little man so much and I can not imagine ever going back to the life I led before his arrival. He has helped direct me back to Christ and I have been transformed! I know God will fulfill my potential as a mother and teach my son the way of Christ. My love for my son is unconditional and never ending - quite like the love that God has for all of us. Only his love surpasses my capabilities.