He was born at 6:40 PM. Sixteen hours that really bring life to the words labor of love. And when they took him out of me and laid him on my chest, I was too exhausted to feel much. I’d heard all those stories and watched all those shows about that moment when the doctor hands you the baby. And how in that moment, all of the pain and work and worry go away and you just fall in love.
But….what if it doesn’t happen that way?
What if you are so happy that the pain is over, and so exhausted from it, that you are only vaguely aware of that little body cuddled up on you?
I could feel him breathing and see how small he was. I could see my husband’s eyes watching him and my parents cooing over him. I knew what I was supposed to be thinking.
But my body was having a hard time catching up with where I knew my mind should be.
I felt protective and responsible. I didn’t want anyone to take him off of my chest. Just let him stay. Maybe this was my way of feeling love.
Because I felt like I wasn’t experiencing the right emotions, but I also knew that I needed that baby to stay near me. I knew I didn’t like it when he cried. I hated when they pricked his foot. He was mine to take care of now.
That night as I tried to sleep, panic set in. I was so exhausted and wanted to sleep so badly, but I was also hyper aware of this tiny being in the plastic bassinet next to me. Was he breathing? Why was he so restless?
Clearly the only solution was to hold him because how on earth was I going to sleep not knowing if he was okay up there? But how was I going to sleep with him on top of me either?
And I cried.
Because, was I ever going to sleep again? And why did I already feel trapped and panicked?
Not many people talk about those first emotions, those first terrors. And probably not everyone feels them, but I’m guessing a lot of us do.
And I needed to feel them and acknowledge them and know that they were okay. (And maybe just call my mom and beg her to come help.)
I imagine there are lots of women out there that feel that love and excitement. And then there are probably lots of women who look at that beautiful little baby with awe and terror and wonder what on earth they are going to do next.
And that’s okay. Because becoming a parent is the biggest, most radical change in a life. And not everyone just slides into that role effortlessly (I’d wager to say that MOST people don’t).
It’s the beginning of years of doubts and questions and wondering if you are doing anything right.
I know I’ve had a lot of moments like that since then.
But sweet mama, you will figure out how to do this. You will love that little baby fiercely and thoroughly. You will have moments when you wonder why you don’t feel the way you think everyone else feels.
THEY DON’T. No one has it all together all the time.
There’s something about comparison when it’s left to its own devices. It grows and grows until it becomes so all-consuming that it robs us of the chance to live freely. We assume that everyone else feels differently. Everyone else does this or that better.
Maybe it’s discipline or sleeping problems or how many hours in a day you are on the floor playing. Maybe it’s how good you are at crafts or planning Pinterest-worthy birthday parties. There are so many ways we can compare. So many ways we can not measure up.
So we need to speak our fears and doubts. Because there is healing in admitting that we don’t have it all together. There is restoration in hearing that someone else struggles, too. It brings us together to lean into each other’s uncertainty and encourage one another.
And it all starts at the very beginning, when they lay that baby on you and suddenly everything changes.Leave a Comment
Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) says
Diane Granic says
I’m so happy to finally read this stated so eloquently! Thirty-three years later I still feel awestruck and terror-filled at the creation of new lives, feeling so powerless and so responsible at the same time. Motherhood isn’t for sissies! I was one of those new moms who wondered if I would ever live a carefree moment again, every sleep for hours at a time again, ever experience peace of mind again. And I didn’t for a few years, and sometimes I still don’t. But my children are the most important thing I’ve ever done. They astound me, amaze me, teach me, love me and scare me to death.
Thank you for this! It’s so true! I’m still only a new mom, so I know I have much to learn!! 🙂
Thank you for speaking more to these hard emotions! So many new mamas get so bogged down in guilt or fear or whatever. Especially new adoptive moms, or moms who tried so very long to get pregnant. I feel like it’s so much more heightened in us because we wanted this new baby so bad, so why are we feeling these things? BECAUSE IT’S NORMAL!!!
Yes it is!!! And don’t forget it!! 🙂
Melissa Lu says
I’ve been there, for sure! Thanks for sharing!
I’ve been here too and could write pages on this! Wow! LOVE….it’s what makes us go through all of these things for our children. Everyday I pray for God to give me strength to care for my babies, and he has. Those feelings and experiences I will never forget and sometimes I still go through, but I feel stronger as time goes by or maybe it’s the more experience I gain daily at being a Mom. I struggled with fertility, Hypothyroidism, antibodies, insomnia, breastfeeding when my motherinlaw kept telling me how she breasfed all three of her kids and I should do it to…when little did they know that my thyroid and loss of a lot of blood from having a csection was behind my struggle with breastfeeding. After months and years of guilt I had to stop and be kinder to myself. I realized I was torturing myself by trying to please others and worrying about what they thought of how I was doing things. I have learned so much about life, myself and my children these past three years of being a Mom. It changes you forever in so many ways and has made me stronger. It is definitely a journey of strength and love.
Same thing happened to me. Being up for 30+ hours, 3 hours of active pushing (with little results) ending in an emergency c-section, I didn’t even want to hold my daughter. I just wanted to sleep. And oh, the guilt! Then it came time to be dismissed from the hospital and I was terrified of being by myself with this little person. What was I going to do with her? We hadn’t even figured out nursing yet! Or at least, I hadn’t. But I look back now and I see God’s fingerprints everywhere and He led me gently just like He says in Isaiah 40:11. He gave me just enough grace for the moment, the bread to sustain me for this day…I didn’t have to have this whole Mom thing figured out (and I haven’t arrived by the way). Since He doesn’t change, He is still faithful today. I think the difference is that I recognize that today, 11 years of marriage and 3 girls later…I am so grateful for Him.
Yes! Thank you for this! So true!
Thank you for being so honest. I’m sure many women feel the same way, but feel that it’s not supposed to be like that. I also felt absolute terror when I was left alone with my first child. We have inner strength that will get us through. But, again, thanks for being so open about it.
Becky C says
My eldest child is nearly 29 now and about to marry his beautiful and worthy bride. I remember the inadequacy I felt so often. I was a single parent from the beginning and the intense fear every hour of every day led me to chose adoption, then change my mind, then chose it again before I made my mind up that we’d make it, no matter what.
Things were hard, I worked three jobs at times and rarely saw this child I loved so dearly. But we were making it!
It wasn’t until after I met a man, who had a great relationship with God, that I began to feel at peace. We raised a family and drew closer to The Lord and felt His peace..and felt my place 🙂
Somewhere along the lines my husband chose another woman and a different life. He really didn’t like “rules” or authority.
Now, my children are grown and I have 2 new grands..oh, the JOY!
I am back at feeling inadequate as a grandma since the other grandparents are doctors and have their family intact. I’d always wanted my grands to play in the yard that their parents did. Well, they do, but I’m an hour away..
I’ll review Jeremiah and know I’ll be granted enough grace for this day. You’ll make it, we all do.. One little step at a time sometimes, but we do 🙂
Julie Sunne says
Such an important message, Melissa!
Jessica Suggs says
I really appreciated your post today. I ended up having a c-section with my son. And my first glimpse of him was from afar, when they were cleaning him up before bringing him to me. And my very first fleeting thought of that sweet little boy crying across the room was, he’s isn’t that cute. Can you believe it? I still feel guilty over that very first thought. Of course it didn’t last. He is the most handsome little man I have ever seen. And the second my mother in law told me “didn’t I think her son (my husband) was cuter as a child than my son” … whoa boy, hold me back! But I really appreciated you giving freedom to those first thoughts, concerns and uncertainties because I certainly did feel like something was wrong with me to feel that way.
Haha!! Oh my, yes I would have been fuming about that!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing! It helps to know that we are all in this together!
Amy Grace says
Thank you for this. As who got into marriage early and felt totally lost, and now worked hard years to get to a place with my husband that is truly love and grace… Thinking about stating a family is exciting and yet I am not blind to these events holding emotions/changes that will shake the ground I place my feet. I want to hear from women like you. I need to.
This post was such a blessing for me to read today in the midst of fears and worries that I am not enough. Thank you for the reminder that I don’t have to have it all together and some days it is okay to just cry with you babe and rest in God’s presence.
I know those days!! And it is okay!!! I do it all the time! 🙂
Our oldest daughter is about to have her first child (due date, tomorrow, June25), our first grand baby. I’m sharing this with her! Thank you for sharing this…Very timely!
Oh good!! Thank you! 🙂
Thank you! As I write this, I am trying to decide if I should wake up my 8 day old baby to feed him or let him sleep. He’s my 3rd, and the feelings of doubt or guilt have not lessened with each child. If anything, they are heightened with this one since he followed 2 miscarriages. I should be basking in the awe of him and God’s grace by allowing us another child. But instead I am tired, hurting, and just wishing this newborn stage would fly by. Thank you for your words of grace, I pray that would become my focus during this difficult stage.
It’s so hard to do isn’t it?? I struggled with those kinds of questions all the time when he was little, and with different ones now! You are doing great!!
I’ve definitely been there, my first child’s birth came with so many expectations, so many things that I “thought” needed to go a certain way. I struggled with feelings of failure when her birth was so different then I expected. As much as I loved her, it did take a little while for the feelings to catch up, I was so physically out of it. Thank you for speaking words of truth, it is normal to feel this way. It’s definitely time to start comparing ourselves as mommys to others, we’re all so different.
Cyndi Torres says
When my daughter was born, she was 6 weeks early, and I labored/delivered so fast that I had no time to process it or prepare myself emotionally. So for the brief moment I was able to hold her, all I could think was “They won’t let me sit up, I can’t even see my baby this is such an awkward position.” And then the pediatrician took her back, and I couldn’t hold her again for 2 days. I didn’t get to take care of her on my my own for a week, so my sense of responsibility was out of whack with my emotions. In the end, I’ve been more overwhelmed by toddlerhood than I ever was in the baby stage. Now I’m in the hospital on bedrest waiting for my second child. And that’s a whole different set of emotions to process, I’m finding! Everyone’s experience is so different, isn’t it? I don’t think parenthood is ever completely what you expect.
I appreciated this post so much.
When I had my first child, my son, I pushed for nearly 4 hours before he was finally “out” with the vacuum. They laid him on my chest and I just stared in wonder, not really emotional, not consumed with joy- relief, yes- but almost unable to hold my head up from exhaustion. My eyes were reduced to tiny slits from all of the pushing and pressure- I could barely see him. I remember thinking “here’s where I should cry with joy.” But I didn’t. In fact, as they took him away to clean him, I remembered thinking “thank goodness, give me some time here.” Oh, how I didn’t know there would be NO time for me any time soon.
Fast forward four years later, I’m pregnant again and wondering how it will be.
After my son, I struggled with nursing, was horrified with being left alone with him and generally an anxious and scared new mother.
How I am praying for grace and strength this time around. Isaiah 40:11 keeps me going.
OMG! Been there done that. Thanks for sharing with us.
Oh my goodness YES! This resonates with everything I have been feeling lately. I’m a new, first time mom and the moment they laid my little one on my chest all I could think was “ew, he’s so gooey and stinky and not what I expected.” 2 and a half months later I’m learning it’s going to be a long process of letting go of myself and allowing God to refine me into the mother He’s creating me to be. Thank you for this post.
Patricia Lidner says
Thank you for writing this.
I went through two similar experiences, 14 months apart in 1983 and 1984. Having my daughters, Jessica Bree, February 17th, 1983, and Sheila Marie, May 6, 1984, I wanted these two more than anything. In those days, you were a horrible mom if you asked for any pain medication, so I had both of them without any help in that way. I almost lost Sheila, because of the lack of progression during labor, and the lack of attention of the nurse. Her heart monitor completely stopped. My husband ran through the halls looking for her and finally finding her in the lounge. Both daughters were face up, which causes a lot of stress on all of us. They have to be facing down, in order to exit. Had a had some medicine or relaxant, it would have relieved so many problems and worries. After hours of hard labor 16, and 24, I was exhausted! Every blood vessel had broken in my eyes and I was in the best shape I have ever been in. Pushing for hours, seeing the little bloody head go out of me, and then pop back in me, waiting for the next contraction… was excruciating. I love my daughters dearly, and I am so proud of them… but if they choose not to have children, I would understand. They are both beautiful, talented, and driven. The oldest is a Ph.D a clinical therapist in Calabasas, CA. and the younger is a Flight Instructor in Phoenix, AZ. I would never go back and change anything, but it has been a very wonderful, and tough road. Thank you for writing your feelings. Many of us shared those feelings, but too afraid to admit it. Patty Lidner-Kleine