When I was pregnant with my son, I was full of such good intentions.
Except, well, I missed out on the beautiful labor and deliver scenario I’d planned because my baby was in distress and needed an Immediate Emergency C-Section, but things went up from there. (For two days.) The baby was beautiful. I was able to nurse him. We went home and I surveyed the world with beatific joy (for about five minutes.) Then reality set in.
Taking care of a baby was hard. I wanted so much for everything to be perfect, and it just wasn’t. He screamed a lot. He passed gas, loudly. I cried. Nobody got any sleep. The Best Father in The World pretended he couldn’t hear the baby crying at 2 a.m., and since I pretty much had the necessary equipment to stop the crying, I was on duty. I envied my husband for the dumbest stuff. He got to go to a (baby-free) work setting and Do Stuff every day. He could eat lunch in a quiet restaurant without a baby erupting into agonized screams of hunger, or was it wetness? Or maybe gas? Resentment grew.
But I loved The Baby so intensely. No child, in the history of children, had ever been so perfect. The curve of his head, the way he raised his eyebrows when that first squirt of milk landed in his mouth, the sweet weight of him in my arms…I loved him so much. Loved him and worried about him and obsessed over every little thing I was doing wrong. Was he too cold? (The nurse at the pediatrician scolded me for not having socks on his tiny feet. It was June in Florida, 96 degrees at 10 a.m., and ohmyGod I was so guilty…such a bad, bad mother!) Was he too hot? His skin was dry and heated and he was crying, what if it was heat rash or heat poisoning or—or—-or…
The first three months went by, marked by tears and breast milk and fear. I was not a natural mother. No, I was pretty much convinced that I was Scarring The Baby For Life. But against every fear that I had, he held his own. He gained weight. He started to make eye contact and, much to my surprise, I was the object of his adoration. Me! He smiled when he saw me at 2 a.m., disheveled and disoriented and drunk with exhaustion. He nestled close to me on those nights when, desperate for sleep, I brought him into our bed. He adored his father, The Best Father in The World, at least in the eyes of our son.
And we grew, as a family. Gradually, things shifted. He was no longer a stranger, crying for reasons I could not fathom. He was part of Us, he was our family, he was yet another link of love between The Best Father In The World and me. We watched him roll over (and over, and over, and over—we were fascinated by his new-found skill and he was just excited to be rolling over) and congratulated ourselves on his achievement. I remembered why The Best Father in The World was also the Best Husband in The World. I got more sleep. Life got better.
And now, 21 years later, I think back to those early-motherhood days. I wish now that I’d enjoyed them more, worried less, taken life as it landed. I can’t really regret it, though. From those early days as a parent, our family formed. The uncertainty and concern grew into sureness and confidence as a parent. If you’re in those early days of parenthood, hang in there. Enjoy the wonderful, heady moments of love. Give The Best Father/Mother In The World the benefit of the doubt. Above all, enjoy your child. They won’t be babies for long!