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.