Apr 172012

Exactly one year ago… and precisely one week late… my life changed forever.  Ok, well it actually changed forever exactly 41 weeks + 52 weeks ago…what is that… 93? I’m tired.  And why do people with babies insist on counting time in weeks?  But  then again, exactly 93 weeks ago, I didn’t know that it had changed yet, so does it count?  So maybe it was 93 – 4.5 weeks (that’s math I can’t do right now) ago, when I found out I was pregnant that my life changed forever.  Hmmmm…  Is it the moment of conception, of realization or of admission into the world that changes your life?

Anyway, I digress…

I had a fairly easy labor and delivery… considering that it was labor and delivery (for those of you who have not had the opportunity to squeeze a human being through your body, past your internal organs and out a hole that somehow is just never big enough… I’ll spare you the grisly details.  I’ll tell you when you are older, or perhaps when I am drunk.) Then the magic moment came when my daughter sprung forth… actually she sort of oozed forth… from my loins.  The nurse immediately placed this sweet, tiny (albeit screaming) baby on my chest and I finally stared into her beautiful blue eyes and felt… really fucking tired.  I was expecting to feel fireworks, or a sparkly magical connection, or at least somewhat like a mother.  I didn’t.  What I felt was definitely joy, but it was tempered with disbelief and pure exhaustion.

I felt as though I were outside of my body, looking down at myself.  Looking down at a mom who had an ecstatic husband and the most beautiful baby in the world, but who didn’t know what to do with it all.  I felt numb.  And because I felt numb, I felt fear.  What if I didn’t love my baby as much as I should?  What if I wasn’t cut out to be a mom? What if I had postpartum depression? What if this whole thing was a mistake? And because I felt fear, I also felt guilt.  I guess that was when I should have known that I was truly a mom.

For those of you who are judging me right now, try to give me a break.  God knows I didn’t give myself one. But let’s take an honest look at the situation.  When you give birth to a baby, you top off the most tiring and uncomfortable ten months of your life  (TEN MONTHS, NOT NINE. 40 weeks. Do the math) with the final month of total discomfort and pure exhaustion (it’s really hard to sleep when you have to pee all the time, every appendage is swollen to 3 times its normal size, and you have a baby doing zumba in your belly all night, every night).  The good news is that all of this leads up to the most physically demanding thing you have ever done, which, besides being a marathon of huffing, puffing, pushing and tearing (sorry),  almost always involves not sleeping for at least 24 hours.  Then, right away you get to start the toughest job you’ll ever have, working for the most demanding boss in the world.  I mean, if any other job required working around the clock, sleeping for only single hour stretches, and taking care of every single solitary need for a thankless boss prone to total meltdowns… the unions would be all over that shit.  I mean, I was up all night without sleeping, going through a very painful as well as physically and mentally demanding journey,  when suddenly this creature who has been in my belly for 10 months is laying on my chest, greedily searching for my boob as I lay there helpless as a rag doll.  So yes, I was tired.  And no, I didn’t have the immediate and earth-shattering connection I expected.

For those of you still judging me… go ahead.  I truly hope that you had or will have an immediate connection with your son or daughter.  Some people do.  But not everyone.  And not me.

What I can say is that as the day wore on, I started to come down from the high induced by extreme exhaustion, physical pain, drugs for that pain, the euphoria of finally seeing my baby, and the intense fear that comes from knowing that you are now 100% responsible for someone’s life… and that someone happens to be the most important person in the world.  And as I started to emerge from my fog, I started to submerge into my daughter.  The less I thought about the birth itself, the more I started to appreciate the miracle of it. I spent a lot of time examining the tiny little girl who was now semi-attached to my breast.  I studied her tiny hands… so much like mine but so very, very small.  The detail that went into making those hands in miniature was insane.  The tiny white crescent on her fingernails, no bigger than a swipe of a pencil.  The wrinkly little fingers, with a fingerprint 100% her own.  Her perfect little mouth.  Her teeny little nose.  Her big eyes, staring up at me as if they could see directly into my soul. And most amazing of all was her personality… even at birth, already more individual than her fingerprint.

From those moments in the hospital, when I should have been resting but couldn’t for the fear and excitement I felt, and from every moment afterward, my love has grown.  So my daughter and I might not have had fireworks right away, but as I have come to find out, we had something better.  We had a spark, just enough to catch fire.  Every single day it burns brighter than the last.  And this fiery love and my daughter herself have illuminated my life in ways I never thought possible.

Thank you my darling Lyla for not giving up on me that day.  And thank you for filling my life with more joy, more laughter and more poop… than I ever imagined.

  15 Responses to “Slow Burn: Looking Back on the First Year”


    This is GREAT. And just right. Wisest pre-baby advice I ever received? “You may not fall in love with your newborn right away. Sure, you’ll feel awed, responsible, amazed, connected. But how many people fall in love at first sight? Don’t feel bad if it takes a while to fall in love with each other. You will.”

    Happy Birthday, Lyla!


    “The nurse immediately placed this sweet, tiny (albeit screaming) baby on my chest and I finally stared into her beautiful blue eyes and felt… really fucking tired.” So, so true. You truly do not know tiredness until you have a baby. It was then that I understood how sleep deprivation could be used as a form of torture. Great post and totally on the money.


      Thank you. The funny thing is that you never recover from the sleep depravation, because it never ends. Or maybe it does after… 16 years? 18? Please?


        Haha, I’ll let you know…


        I once read a book called Run Like a Mother. In it a woman describes her experience running marathons. She said that even though she poured herself into each race and finished exhausted, she always felt like she’d left something in the tank – that she hadn’t fully emptied herself. Then one day she ran a race, and less than 1/2 a mile before the finish line, she felt herself give out, but she pushed and pushed and finished. In the end, she felt like she had given that race everything. She describes the feeling of being completely empty, finished.

        I want to have that same experience only with sleep.I want to sleep and sleep until I am entirely void of tiredness. My oldest will be 16 tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure I can count on both hands the number of really great nights sleep I’ve had. And that includes nightcap nights. Still I wouldn’t change a thing. Sleep is a small price to pay for life’s greatest love, joy, and adventure.


    You are wonderful. Thank you for sharing this. I admire you tremendously Courtney. And love you..boy how I love you :-)! xoxoxoxox


    Courtney – maybe those you have not had a baby will judge you and maybe that is why I don’t. Because I know exactly what you mean. I don’t even remember when I first saw Charlotte – pretty sure it was after I puked my Chili Cheese Fries from Gunther Toody’s I had the night before…………….. But once the meds weren’t so strong and all the doctors were gone – I looked over at my tiny baby girl and realized that I was in love. I love that we both have daughters and I love you and your daughter very much!


    You are clearly not the only one 🙂 I didn’t really feel like I was in love with my daughter until day 2.. maybe when the catheter came out (C section).. It was really awesome to read this. My daughter being 7 now, I forgot what those first few hours and days felt like! Happy 1st birthday to your daughter, enjoy it!


    And then when you have #2 you’ll spend 9 months terrified you won’t love her as much as #1. In fact, it did take a little time. I love them all as much as the first one now, but the first baby will always hold a special place in my heart – maybe because I feel guilty that he has been the subject of all our parenting experiments, poor boy.


    Thank you! I felt this way with my second, who just wore me out and made me miserable from about the 6th week of pregnancy all the way through the FORTY THIRD WEEK (yup. Almost ELEVEN months!) when we finally sent the doctor in to get him. And I thought, “crap! I shouldn’t have had another one! I’m not sure I like him!” Then I felt AWFUL for feeling that. As it turns out… 10 1/2 months later I like him very much. I just had to get to know him a little better. 🙂

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