Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My son.

Being now an experienced mother of six months (almost), I feel I'm quite qualified to write on the subject of motherhood, specifically that short phase surrounding childbirth. I was contemplating tonight as I held my sleeping son the events surrounding his birth - how reality was different from my expectations, how in some cases my expectations were too high, in other cases too low.

Breastfeeding was a bit of a shocker, I must admit. Curse those nurses. After struggling for an hour to get the child woken up and latched on, all I hear is "Does it hurt? If it hurts you aren't doing it right! Break his latch and try again!" I have serious doubts about whether any of those women had actually ever nursed a child. OF COURSE it hurts! Looking back, I'm not sure what they were thinking, telling me that it shouldn't hurt. You take a creature whose sole purpose in life is to suck as hard as it can on anything that comes into its mouth, then place one of the most sensitive parts of your entire anatomy into that mouth, and tell me it's not supposed to hurt? Oh how I longed to simply stuff a bottle into his mouth. All that nonsense about feeling so connected to your child, the bonding experience as he draws his very life from your body... at that point I couldn't have cared less.

But of course that's changed. It doesn't hurt now, it's virtually effortless, and I'm rewarded by sweet smiles. In the beginning though...

If I turn my mind back to those hours right before he was born, I remember the anticipation, the excitement. I was going to MEET this person that, even though I'd never seen, I felt so incredibly connected to. He was part of me, and I was finally going to see him! Reality was so different than I thought. Sure I loved him from the moment I saw him, of course I did. I thought he was beautiful! But I somehow thought there was going to be this rush of overwhelming emotion and feeling and love, and to be honest, there really wasn't. Instead it was more like going through the most painful, exhausting experience of my life and when it was finally over, instead of being able to rest and recover, some nurse had the nerve to hand me this squalling infant and expect me to care for it! He felt like such a stranger to me at first. That's what I called him - "Little Stranger." Taking care of him felt awkward and strange, I kept feeling like someone was going to come take their baby back from me. It was like babysitting.

But gradually, almost inperceptably, my feelings and emotions have undergone a complete turnover. I hold my son now and he is so familiar to me. I know every inch of him, I know what he's thinking by the look on his face, even though he barely knows what he's thinking. I can tell his cries apart, I know when he's hungry, when he's tired and when he's in pain. I know when he just wants his Mommy, and when he wants to explore the world as far away from me as he can get!

I should have been prepared. Marriage was the exact same. Sure people tell you that it's different than you think it's going to be... but you don't really understand what they mean. Inside you are sure that the minute those vows are read and you are really officially married - or at least by the next day - you are going to feel completely different towards your spouse. More in love, less fighting, just perfect bliss. Ha! I remember thinking, "I feel like I just moved in with him. Nothing's changed! He still bugs me!"

I don't know why we get our expectations up so high. Maybe God knows that if we really, really knew how hard marriage and parenting was going to be we would never go through with it. At any rate, I'm thankful for my reality. Like I fall more in love with my husband every day, I fall more in love with my son every day too. I wouldn't trade this life for anything!

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