In some ways it felt like yesterday and at the same time, it feels like forever ago, but it was 20 months ago that I became a mom. I can still remember all the events of the 33(!!) hours that led up to that moment so vividly, but it is the time before labor that feels far off in my memories. It is hard to even remember what life was like before O came into our lives. As any first time mom or dad can attest, our lives suddenly looked nothing like they were before. In one instant every thing about our lives changed.
As a first time parent, I found myself instantly elated and panicked. I’m pretty sure the elation came mostly from the knowledge that the 33 hours of natural labor were behind me (and of course because of the amazing little babe I wouldn’t let out of my arms). However, there was also this instant panic that set in. The moment you realize the doctors and nurses are clearing you to go home and that they don’t plan to come with you, that’s when the panic hits. Here we were walking out the door of the hospital with a 36 hour old human. Do these people expect us to know what to do with this little guy?
All the parenting and pregnancy classes in the world don’t prepare you for what happens next. For me, it looked a bit like this. We drove home at 10 miles per hour with me in the back seat checking every 10-20 seconds to make sure O was breathing. We got inside and I sat down with O on the couch, while my husband brought our bags in from the car. By the time he got back inside, there I was, on the couch, holding our 1 day old baby, bawling. No reason why. I think it was just the unknown, the what now? I was so scared that I was going to do something wrong. Is he eating enough? Has my milk come in? Will his sleep be ruined for life if we always hold him? So many questions and not enough answers.
Those first few weeks were some serious trial and error. Pretty sure our five day old did not enjoy his cold bath. We were so concerned about burning him, that it was definitely luke warm in the middle of January. Oops! Pretty sure he didn’t enjoy the too hot one a few weeks later either. Oh my! Why did he hate his the super expensive bedside basinet that I insisted we get? What baby doesn’t love sleeping swaddled on their back all alone in their bed? Is nursing supposed to feel like someone is stabbing me in the nipple repeatedly? Why does your belly button smell? As you can see, we had a bunch of questions, and well, not many answers.
As time went on though, we got into a groove and even though we still had tons of questions, I seemed less concerned with finding the answers. I started to slowly trust myself and my mama bear instincts. When everyone told me that O’s rash was nothing to worry about, I headed to the doctor and was glad I did. When I didn’t want to start purees too early and then found myself trying to introduce food to a baby who HATED pureed anything, I went with my gut and tried my own version of baby led weaning despite what those around me thought (and voiced!). Let’s be honest, it looked a lot more like eat what I am eating in small pieces than any real method! And don’t let that picture fool you. This babe did NOT like purees. The important part, I was confident in my choices as a parent. I had the courage to stand up for what I was doing for my child and I never doubted that I was doing my absolute best. In short, I had found my GUMPTION!
But with all that success and feelings of resolute confidence came the inevitable mommy fail. Parenting is rough. It is tough work and I don’t know anyone who can’t attest to the times that motherhood kicks you in the pants and pushes you down. You turn away for 10 seconds and your baby falls…hard. You head to the park and realize that you are probably the only parent who forgot sunscreen on a blazing hot day. You end up at the doctor’s office for a 103 degree fever and remember all those times you forgot to wash your baby’s hands after visiting a play space (I am sooooo bad about remembering to do this!!). That’s where the GRACE comes in. As a recovering perfectionist, I have had to work so hard to not beat myself up over my mommy fails and there are a lot of them. They don’t make me a bad mother, just a real one. I work hard to remember to easy on myself everyday…through the good and the bad
And that is all there is to it in my book. Motherhood is all about gumption and grace. I love my baby fiercely and will always try my best for him. And for that, I think we are both pretty lucky. 😉 He’s my biggest fan and I am his!