Friday, October 3, 2014

So, this is motherhood....

I thought I was prepared for this simply because I knew how unprepared I was.

Everyone tells you that parenthood is hard, but it’s worth it. And I knew they must be right. I mean, why else would anyone sacrifice so much time, energy, money, sleep (oh God, precious sleep) for a tiny little demanding human that is too reliant on you to function? And why else would any woman ever go through childbirth?

Childbirth is something I’d been dreading and anticipating since Mr. W and I decided years ago that we did eventually want to breed. It’s another experience you don’t understand until you live through it. I knew that, which is half the reason it was so scary. And as it got closer and closer, I told everyone “It’s like waiting for a bad car accident knowing that if you survive it, it will be Christmas morning.”

Maybe one day I will write my birth story, but not here and not now. But I will say this: that’s pretty much how it was, a bad car accident with a Christmas-morning-as-a-young-child level reward. It could have been a lot worse than it was, that’s for sure. I didn’t have a 37 hour labor like I’ve heard about. I didn’t have a C-section. I waited until late in the game to get an epidural, but I didn’t wait TOO late like some poor, poor women do.

God bless the women who consider labor and childbirth a “spiritual experience,” who do hypnobirthing and birth in the water singing Kum Ba Yah and don’t take so much as an ibuprofen. Really, power to them. I am not one of those women. It was awful, painful, ridiculous, humbling and stupid and I’m incredibly glad Mr. W and I decided long ago we only wanted one. I have yet to feel the “amnesia” women get that makes them forget their labors and have more babies. Screw. That.

I was prepared to be unprepared for labor. I also prepared myself not to feel that instant love and connection to the baby like I’ve heard you’re “supposed” to feel, just in case. Sometimes it takes awhile to kick in, so I didn’t put any expectations on myself in that department. No need to make myself feel like a failure as a mother the minute I stopped pushing.

Maybe that’s why I was so unprepared for what DID happen the moment my precious daughter finally emerged from me, which was a fierce and crazy love so powerful it felt like a completely different kind of contraction. They placed that tiny little body on my chest, and I wrapped my arms around her and stared at the little baby that had been kicking me and making me crave mac and cheese for months. She stared right back at me with her piercing blue eyes….not crying, not squirming, just staring at me. It was like we both were saying “Oh, there you are.”

Then she looked up at her daddy, reached out and grabbed his finger with her hand, bringing him into the moment. And I was so overcome with emotions more intense than anything I’d ever felt before. My heart exploded. Everyone was right. You just don’t understand until you’re there. And that’s OK. It’s not necessary to understand it until you’re in the middle of it. It’s part of what makes it all worth it.

This week has been a whirlwind. I have been typing this post one-handed for several days. My midwife suggested a no visitors for 2-3 weeks policy while I heal and adjust and learn to feed a little person with parts of my body that were previously reserved for fun times and sexy Vegas dresses, so it’s pretty much been just the three of us aside from a few doctor appointments. Mr. W has been home and he has been so incredible, I may tie him up and forbid him from returning to work on Monday. In between feedings, which are as frequent as every hour (say what you want about breastfeeding, but it is NOT easy, kids), I take vitamins and eat and shower and occasionally nap and just hold my baby girl.

For the next month, my full-time job is to get adjusted to this. I’m already anxious about jumping back into work so soon even though I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home and I have amazing clients. I’m anxious about my first day entirely alone with her. I’m anxious about money, I’m anxious about our impending hospital bill (she didn’t come won’t be cheap) and I’m anxious about my poor childless friends who are probably wondering why I’ve suddenly gone braindead even though every single one of them has been beyond amazing and understanding.

But when I see how incredible my husband is as a father, when I realize that yes, I CAN function on two hours of sleep every ten hours (if I’m lucky), when I look at my parents and in laws holding the baby and realize I finally “get” how they feel about us, and when I snuggle my precious little girl in the early morning light and she falls asleep with her head on my heart…. I realize that I can’t possibly have anything to be anxious about at all. Nothing will ever be the same, but we’ll have a new normal. And honestly, it feels as if she’s been part of our family all along….she just wasn’t physically here yet.

Everything “they” say is true. Having a baby is hard, scary and intense, and it’s definitely not for everyone. But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.


cari said...

Oh, Jessica, this is so sweet. Congratulations to all three of you!

ebe porter said...

Just lovely.

And I am going to have to borrow your description of “It’s like waiting for a bad car accident knowing that if you survive it, it will be Christmas morning.” I'm in my last days (hopefully) and the fear has really set in on some levels, but stories like yours are uplifting.


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