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