The exact moment that I saw my son for the first time was completely unforgettable. Sometimes I think I must have a picture of it that I look at on a regular basis because the image is just so clear in my mind. That first glance was unlike anything I’d ever felt – it was relief, excitement, love, joy. It was amazing.
And the rest of the day and week and life was sunshine and puppy dogs.
I’ve wanted to write this for a while, but I was scared of a few things:
a) I don’t want anyone to think I don’t love my son.
b) I don’t want people asking me if I'm okay 243 times the next time we have a kid.
c) I don’t want anyone to think I don’t like being a mom.
But if I was sitting across from you and you had a newborn in your arms and you looked tired and a little dazed and confused, I would probably offer this story to you. As sort of a keep up the good work, sister! It gets better! kind of thing. Because if I were you, I wouldn’t have been the first to say how I was feeling. For fear of items A through C above.
I guess what I’m saying is this:
Listen up, sister. This is what it was really like for me.
I was uncomfortable in the hospital. I never like being away from my own home anyway, let alone in a place as uninviting as a hospital. And recent events had left me feeling a little bit like I’d been run over by something big and pointy. And I was so, so tired. So tired.
I cried a lot that first night. I got peed on twice. I was tired. The nurses wouldn’t leave us alone. I was tired. I couldn’t move around easily to get to him. I was tired. Etc, etc.
I cried a lot our first night at home, too. I remember everyone talking about sleep deprivation when I was pregnant. “Good luck not sleeping ever again!” they’d say. And I wanted to kick them in the teeth.
But the sleep deprivation. Y’all. It was no joke.
Andrew was as helpful as he could be, but the program he was in at the time was super demanding and kept him away most of the time. Not by choice, but because that's what was required of him to graduate. I felt like a single mom for most of those first weeks. He was working all day and all night and I cried every time he left for work. I spent many hours wondering how he could get out of the Navy. When I asked him why he couldn’t just quit, he told me it was because that’s illegal. AWOL or something like that.
What I really wanted was someone to rub my shoulders in the middle of the night and wait on me hand and foot and bring me water and snacks. And I also kind of wanted him to grow a boob so I could just take a break for a few hours. So I cried about that, too. Those unrealistic expectations of mine always seem to come and bite me.
The new baby and the husband's situation and an impending move - it all came together and weighed down pretty heavily. What’s that you say? Baby blues? Probably. But it lasted a little longer than I'd like to admit and I struggled, off and on, with feeling sad and overwhelmed for several weeks. Like when we went to a doctor’s appointment only to remember that it was scheduled for the next day instead so I cried real hard in the parking lot and when Andrew said, “Page, what can I do? Just tell me what to do?” I told him that I just needed a smoothie.
Girlfriend is crazy, he thought.
I have to tell you that I have never prayed so much and so often. Having a baby is a crash course in faith, that’s for sure. There were so many tearful prayers that went up from that little bedroom in South Carolina and now I get what He meant when he said he is the Good Shepherd. And soon enough, I started to feel more confident. More stable. More peaceful. And there was a lot more joy.
But here’s the thing. I loved my kid through all of that. I always wanted to take care of him. I always wanted to snuggle him and I actually kind of liked climbing the stairs at 3am to be with him. I never, ever, ever stopped loving him. There was a huge separation between how I was feeling and how I was feeling toward him, even though he was kind of the catalyst for it all.
But I was still so afraid to tell anyone for fear that they wouldn’t see the distinction and I’d get a big BAD MOM label to stick on my forehead. People would ask me if I “just loved being a mom!” and I always lied a said that I did. I loved my boy, but I didn’t quite love being a mom. That junk was hard.
Looking back, I see how different my love for Jack was then compared to now. The feelings he stirs up inside of me now are so different than the feelings I had when he rarely opened his eyes. This is a much bigger love.
And this is what it feels like to love being a mom. That's another post for another day, because there is much to say about how I really just love this gig.
So, friend? I get it. You just feel a little overwhelmed right now. But oh, do you love that baby. And one day, you'll feel better. Days, weeks, months will go by and one day you will feel confident. Content. Joyful.
Friend, you’ll be so happy.