Now that I'm a little over 6 months in, I'm happy to say that I feel like our family has hit a good rhythm, and that the loneliness that hit a few months in is not as prevalent. Not so far gone that I've forgotten, but not so close that I literally feel alone. I've noticed that when I share my stories, I'm able to connect with others who can relate. So, in an attempt to be honest . . .
I thought I would be horrible at this.
The youngest in my family, I was never around babies and always preferred to be around people my own age or older. I didn't change a diaper 'til my mid-20s. I never liked to hold babies, and the sound of a baby crying terrified me, probably because it was so unfamiliar.
On top of my disinterest in babies, the thing that really worried me about pregnancy and motherhood was my anxiety. How would I handle the feeling of pregnancy? Of losing control over my body? Would I have a panic attack with my little one in tow? What if I pass out and die on the delivery room table? I couldn't be the only woman with these crazy, irrational fears. But still, they were there.
When I heard Elliot's first cries, my own tears started to flow. But I honestly think it was a mixture of exhaustion and disbelief. During my most exhausted moment, I was vaguely aware that a doctor came in the room to explain our options... "Something something forceps.... something something vacuum .... yadda yadda C-section."
My mood went from confident to concerned. I asked my husband to please put out a call on Facebook to have anyone and everyone say a prayer for me and the baby. After 3 hours of pushing, I didn't feel capable of giving any more. I also hated all of my options.
Under the doctor's recommendation, we went with the forceps, which my husband later described to me as "a king's salad tongs." Horrors. The doctor explained that the forceps would do about 10% of the work, and I'd need to do the other 90%. When it was time to push, I gave it everything I had left. I was surprised I had anything at all. Ninety seconds later, Elliot was born.
In reality, I didn't have that magical moment in the delivery room where I just wanted to hold him and never let go. After 37 hours awake, I was physically and emotionally done. I really wanted to hand him over to the nearest nurse and go to sleep.
I did hold him skin-to-skin for about 30 minutes while doctors stitched me up. But I cut it off early, because I had that sick feeling. The one you get in your throat when you know you're about to throw up. I passed the baby off to my husband and begged for a barf bag.
In my first few days as Elliot's mom, I have to admit that I didn't yet have those magical mommy butterflies. So imagine my surprise when I suddenly knew exactly what to do! Mother's intuition was my friend during those long days and late nights. "This cry means . . . that whine means . . . " I was on fire. I was mom.
Something about the pregnancy stretched me. Literally, of course, but also mentally and spiritually. Before I got pregnant, I never, ever, ever wanted to give birth. I was completely horrified of the process and didn't know if I was even capable of such a feat. And somehow, I was calm and capable, perfectly able to do all that was required of me.
Now, for the first time in 8 years, I'm having a conversation with my husband about what it would look like to wean off my anxiety meds. And I'm doing it. In the experience of overcoming my worst fear, all the others paled in comparison.
So I could tell you about the crazy diaper stories, the sleepless nights and my painful physical recovery. But to my great surprise, none of that really matters. Somehow within this story, becoming Elliot's mom is healing me.
I have perspective enough to know that I'm not through the worst of it. My mother's intuition is sure to fail me. There will be harder days to come, and many which seem more impossible than it felt in that delivery room. But I've also learned that I'm not doing this alone. I felt the support of my husband, my family and friends, both in that hospital room and in the days since. Elliot has amazing grandparents who would do anything for him.
Mostly, I'm thankful that I'm becoming a mom. Little by little, I'm learning to give more than I think is possible, and finding life on the other side.
This post is part of the Motherhood: Expectations v. Reality blog hop. Be sure to check it out to see more details and the full blog hop schedule!