Friday, April 8, 2016

Coffee + Conversation: New Mom Honesty

And so the fairytale goes...

Mom wants a baby. Mom gets pregnant. Mom has baby. Mom cuddles baby. Mom takes baby home. Mom spends hours on end just staring at baby and smiling in complete adoration.

The only problem is that the fairytale is not always reality. Not everyone conceives easily. Not everyone has a storybook pregnancy. Not every delivery is smooth. Not every baby comes into the world without a problem, and not every mom transitions perfectly into motherhood. To some degree, I've ridden this roller coaster of managing expectations. Miscarriages weren't part of my fairytale. Delivering Eila prematurely was not the plan either. Eila being carried away to the NICU immediately was not my original vision of my first hours of motherhood, and I certainly didn't think I'd spend my first few weeks at home afraid of my new role as a mom.

It's all clearer in retrospect. It was different than the blues, I think. It was love manifesting itself in a way I could not have fear. I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing that made me feel better was having another person around to fumble around with me (enter Lucas) or someone who had done it before (enter my mother). I was worried about picking her up wrong. I was worried - at that time - about whether she was getting enough milk. I was worried about whether I put the diaper on correctly. I was worried about her premature lungs acting up on my watch. Sure, I'd pick her up and love on her, but in those early days I still had that nagging anxiety that I could completely mess this up. I expected that everyone became "a natural" once their babies were born, and I could not understand why none of it felt natural at all. I also started to feel like she didn't need me specifically. Since I couldn't breastfeed, she just needed a set of eyes, hands and feet. For a moment, I felt like my role as a mom was minimized by my inability to do the one thing for Eila that only I could do. It's silly, of course. I'd sit and watch the clock to wait for Lucas to get home if my mom wasn't there to help me pass the time. Another huge issue was surgery recovery. My body didn't feel like itself. I felt weaker than ever - arms, legs and core. Simple things were painful like laughing or sneezing. And I was dodging heavy painkillers because I don't react well to them.

It was no fairytale, but I am realizing that it wasn't supposed to be. 
In fact, I am glad I wasn't. 
Because now I know better.

We all have a journey with our own unique plot. It's not supposed to be perfect, it's supposed to be yours. In these seven weeks I have discovered that you don't die from a poor night's sleep. Pain does subside, as do anxieties. It just takes time. Oh, and a large amount of faith in yourself. That's what I was lacking. The truth is that Eila does and has always recognized me as her mom. Just in the last week I've made her smile and calmed her meltdowns. I've read her stories and sang her songs. I've watched her watching me back, and for the first time in a while, I fell in love with my new normal. I wrongfully assumed that because things weren't unfolding by the book that I must not be very maternal.Then I burned that proverbial book and now we are living our happily ever after.

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