Becoming a mother has had the strange and unexpected effect of producing a youthful vulnerability in me. Especially those first few weeks, I carried around a sense of awe, curiosity and joy mixed with a deep need to do what I need to do for my son but realizing I might not know how.
He breastfed the first time, within an hour of birth. It was easy. The next day he wouldn't, and I was pacing the floor, half-dressed, doing everything I could before the RN came in and intervened. In almost any other circumstance I would have found this humiliating. Now, I was just relieved.
Walking to the car, arriving home with a tiny bundle I would call my own, I depended on everyone for everything, while my son depended on me. I could give him
the two things he needed most: nourishment and the comfort of love. Others could give me
direction and support.
His eyes crusted over every morning. Mom showed me how to hold him over the sink, run warm water and rinse from the inside out. They were clogged tear ducts, so common in newborns but terrible to see.
I would forget to burp him after nursing, and he would cry. I was gently reminded.
Childbirth had been painful and terrifying and I was on a regular regime and Ibuprofen, Extra Strength Tylenol and stool softeners. My husband helped me keep track of what I should be taking and when. Mom pushed the water. "You have to drink a lot of fluids while you're breastfeeding." Who knew?
My sister and her six month old son showed up, brimming with smiles. With her example, I was reminded that babies aren't merely for putting down and lulling to sleep. They're for nurturing.
Every cry would bring me running. Conscious that I was doing it and trying to restrain myself, I would hover while others held him.
His wheezing was enough to stop my heart.
It's a wonder he ever slept as much as I peeked in on him. One night he slept longer than usual. I woke up, seized with fear and prayed that God would give me grace for whatever I found when I walked the foot and a half to his cradle to check on him. I resorted to waking him up and bringing him to bed with me!
I know that long-time mothers will relate to some of these stories and maybe chuckle. It's that knowledge that makes me feel so young and insecure in a way I don't recall feeling much before. The surprise is, always the self-confident woman, I'm not ashamed of my lack of surety. I am doing what so many have done before me; feeling my way through parenthood, half-blind but always seeing.
Except I feel like a kid while I'm doing it.
Labels: Childbirth, Love, Newborns, Parenting, Reflections