Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Mom is Born

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new."  ~Unknown

I'm A Mom...!...?

The first time I realized that I was indeed someone's "Mom" was not all that long after my first baby was born.  I know that sounds very silly, but it's true.  My son was born at 11:15pm. 

[For those of you keeping score, those 45 minutes did indeed count as our first "night" in the hospital.] 

We were absolutely elated.  Delivery had gone well, I was able to nurse him shortly after he was born, and we were then able to welcome our family into the delivery room to meet the little guy.  They had been waiting patiently all evening and into these early morning hours to meet the new addition to the family.  We finally made it to the room we'd be staying in for the next two (read above comment...more like one...) days by about 2:30am.  We chose to keep our son in his bassinet in the room with us that first night.  When I was wheeled into our room and looked up to see the clock, I remember feeling like we were running on pure adrenaline and joy and couldn't believe we had a healthy baby boy that was our son.

Our son.

Does Anyone Know They Left This Baby in Here?

That feeling hit me like a tons of bricks in the middle of that first night.  Around 3:30 or 4:00am, my son woke up and was crying.  That cry.  That was the cry of my baby.  I had been around a lot of babies in my life, and every single other time I had ever heard them cry, I knew there was a Certified Mom around to comfort them, cuddle them, console them.  That was now, somehow, me.  
Was I ready for this?  Was I prepared for this?  Was I supposed to have a license or some kind of seal of approval or something to do this?  Medical professionals had knowingly left this poor, innocent 5-hour old baby in this room with my husband and me.  I wondered how long it would be until they realized this.

Upon hearing the cry of our son at that middle-of-the-night hour, I carefully got out of the hospital bed, and tried not to wake up my sweet husband, who was attempting to "sleep" on the pull-out chair contraption they deceptively called a "bed" near the window.  I walked over to my newborn son's bassinet and picked up his teeny, tiny swaddled body.  I put him up on my shoulder and patted his back and began walking him back and forth, back and forth, in the dim light of the hospital room.  I was somehow hoping maybe once I picked him up he would just magically fall back asleep in my arms.   I was trying to conjure up all these images of the videos we had seen in our birthing class, the pictures in the books I had read, the visions I had of other moms I had witnessed do these things hundreds of times.  I kept pacing back and forth, back and forth.  I had this crazy feeling of "What am I supposed to do now?  I am his mom.  I am the one who is just supposed to 'know' what do do!"  

At that point, my husband was awake.  We both had a little of a "deer in the headlights" look, and were looking to each other for what to do or what to try next.  After about 10 minutes, a nurse came in our room to check my vital's or the baby's vitals or give me meds or one of the other 476 reasons they come into your room that first night.  I remember thinking "Thank God!  She must have heard him crying and come in to check on him!"  She went about her business of whatever she had come in to do, and wasn't phased in the least by our crying newborn.  

"Ok," I thought.  "This is a good sign.  She is not acting as alarmed as I feel right now.  She is not looking at us like we are the worst parents on Earth.  This must be somewhat normal."

After a couple of minutes, I said "I'm not quite sure why he's crying.  I've been walking him and patting his back and 'shush'ing in his ear, but nothing really seems to be working."  

With very kind eyes, she looked at me and asked "What time did he last eat?"

EAT!  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  How did I not think of that?  A basic survival need, and it had never even crossed my mind.  I have to feed this kid.  How in the world can I be a mom if I don't even remember...wait, even feed my little guy?  

I instantly flashed back to what I had read, what I had heard.  That newborns eat every 2 hours.  That their stomach is the size of a marble.  Those thoughts had not surfaced in all my walking and patting and 'shush'ing.  It had been nearly 4 hours since he had his first meal.  The poor kid was hungry!

The amazing nurse and my incredible husband helped me get our little 7 pound miracle fed, changed, settled and back to bed.  I took a deep breath at that point and thought "This is it.  There is no going back.  I am now a mom.  I am now his mom.  God, please help me to not screw up too badly and to know what to do at least some of the time.  Grant me wisdom, as I'm pretty sure I have no idea what I'm doing, and somehow, the people in this hospital trust me with this precious child.  Your precious child.  Please walk with me every step of the way."  I have prayed that last line, or some version of it, nearly every day for the last 4 1/2 years.

Getting to Know All About You...

In the days and weeks that followed, our little family of three got the hang of being a family.  Feeding, napping, bathing, changing.  We spent time figuring each other out.  When I look back on it now, those are truly some of my absolute happiest memories.  Yes, we were sleep deprived.  Yes, we didn't really know what we were doing.  But it was us.  It was the three of us, and we had each other.  It was in those days that I started trusting myself and trusting my instincts more and more.  I owe a lot of this to my husband, my own mom and the other moms who stopped by to visit.  I could see it in their eyes and hear it in their words and feel it in their warmth-- they trusted me.

I was his mom.  He was my son.  I loved him more than anything on Earth.  When he was hungry or tired or just needed his mom, that was me.  I was that person.  I had walked into that hospital as a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, but walked out as a Mom.  I knew something had forever changed within me.  

A Mom had been born.  

So whether your little tiny miracle hasn't yet shown herself to the world or your baby is now taller than you, You Are a Good Mom.  You will always and forever be.  You are the one who knows them best.  You are their comfort and their safe place.  You are their Mom.

If you are a Mom-to-be or a relatively new Mom or know someone in those categories, you may want to check out this little addendum post, too!  Just a few more thoughts on this topic that didn't quite fit into this post anywhere.

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