We got word this morning that a there is new mommy and daddy at our church ... and a new little bundle of joy! Yeah! Watching this new mommy over the past several weeks as she was waiting for the new arrival, and then seeing a post on Facebook that she was headed to the hospital and then seeing the updated post this morning of the name and weight ... took me back a few years to Aaron's arrival and my own induction into motherhood.
Now you might think that this walk down memory lane would be all about the warm fuzzies of holding that little bundle and meeting that precious person for the first time. It could be. But it isn't. This is more of a return to the Twilight Zone: the crazy new-mom-stuff someone could have warned me about - but, didn't; the deep fog that passed over my brain upon delivery and the missing days following our return home that just Poof! disappeared.
We'll start at the very beginning ...
I remember early on in my pregnancy of being sure that I wanted to deliver naturally. Naturally, I was crazy! When my little buddy had trouble making an entrance in the world, I was induced and spent that entire day in a pain-induced fog. My husband and I still joke about the horrible noises I as emitting in an attempt to not scream or cry. Think guttural. By nighttime, I was ready for some drugs and relieved that an epidural was still an option. When all was said and done, it did end and I did have a sweet boy to love. But he wasn't a little baby ... he was already a kid. I remember when they laid him across my stomach, thinking, "He's huge ... how did he fit?!" So much for itty-bitty parts to smooch!
As they busied about cleaning my son and documenting the delivery I realized that I was ferociously hungry ... running a marathon on a piece of toast will do that to you! Unfortunately, the hospital kitchen was closed and all the nurse could round up was a handful of saltine crackers and some peanut butter packets. Those were the best mini-pb-cracker-sandwiches I have ever eaten! Delish!
We headed to our room listening to the little whimpering mews of our baby Aaron. We were both disillusioned into thinking that he would be a meek little guy ... until he let us have it a few hours later! These two newbie, sleep-deprived, exhausted parents with a crying baby and only a few "book ideas" in our parenting tool-box ... that was fun! :) The nurses in the maternity ward took pity on us and gave us a few hours of blissful sleep while they swaddled and rocked Aaron. Thank you, again and again!
The next morning I woke up and ordered some breakfast ... and then proceeded to cry into my eggs and toast. Poor Brett woke up in the torture-rack/lazy-boy-chair to his sad little wife sniffling and weeping - awash in post-pregnancy hormones. The wise man that he is, simply patted my hand. Eventually the sudden sadness passed and Brett asked, "Do want me to see if they can send Aaron down?" To which I replied, "Who's Erin?" Again ... Brett being a wise man did not laugh, he just clarified: "Aaron, our son." Ahhh, yes ... that would be swell!
Unfortunately, the foggy-brain syndrome didn't pass immediately. Later that same day, Aaron was fussing and Brett asked me, "When did he eat last? Maybe he's hungry." I thought back over the past several hours and answered, "Uhm ... the big hand was on the 3." Yep ... I was trying to pay attention, my brain just wasn't cooperating. I also seemed to have a lot of trouble remembering the names of the people caring for me. There was one lady, in particular, that was a challenge for me. I kept calling her "Swifty" ... close - it was "Silky".
A few post-partum things I wish that someone would have filled me in on:
- Sometime following the delivery, I was struck by a train. That it is the only explanation for the full-body misery that I felt. I felt like I need a body-sized ice-bag.
- Breast-feeding is a learned skill. It does not come naturally for mom or baby ... but with time it gets easier. More on that later.
- Any privacy that I might have enjoyed evaporated upon conception. I never dreamed I would have perfect strangers helping me to have the baby "latch-on" properly ... several at one time.
- The nurses and doctors are perfectly happy to send a defenseless baby home with an inexperienced, clueless and already-fatigued individual. And smile and wave while she drives away.
- It was essential that I had someone else taking care of me ... otherwise I was destined to eat breakfast at 2 pm. I am forever grateful for the eggsalad sandwiches my mom made and kept in the fridge ... again, the most delicious morsels I had ever eaten. Ever.
- Stress manifests itself in a variety of ways. For me, it was crying. I cried. A lot. About everything.
- Sleeplessness does different things to different people. For me, it was crying. I cried. A lot. About everything. (Did I say that already?)
We became a family in the blink of an eye ... but it took time to get to know one another and get along well. Fortunately, we had a lot of time to learn: days and nights and days and nights. They all kind of blurred together! Eventually, we soon found ourselves in a rhythm and our days and nights became less stressful and more enjoyable. As I became more and more of a student of my son, I learned his cries and discovered that I could decipher his needs. I also learned his likes and his dislikes and was better able to meet his needs. I also had some help! Daddy, books, family and friends all helped to make our transition from couple to couple+one a tad bit smoother.
We still had a couple of bumps along the road ...
We still had a couple of bumps along the road ...
The biggest one being the Breast-feeding Bump. It was a doozy! Aaron was a super hungry eater from the start ... he came out wanting steak, I think. Before my milk came in he was nursing 22 hours a day ... or at least it seemed like it. Our nurse encouraged us to supplement a bit with formula in order to help him feel full and give me a break. That was great, except that she gave us a little dixie cup and expected us to somehow get the sweet goodness from the cup to his belly in spite of his his inability to drink from a cup. Most of that when down his front and curdled. Eventually, my milk came in ... with a vengeance. The poor kid was drinking from a fire hose! And there there were the tricky techniques to learn: balance-the-baby-with-no-head-support and cover-yourself-properly and don't-scream-when-he-bites. Techniques you can only learn with practice and in the privacy of your own home. But what if, just what if, that little peanut gets hungry when you aren't at home ... and you have to nurse him ... in public?!? I have a vivid memory of attending our birthing class reunion when Aaron was a few weeks old. I didn't have any of these moves down yet - not even close. I remember his meal time rolled around and we were still hanging out. I tried to discreetly turn my chair around, cover him up and fill his belly. What we ended up with was milk everywhere, a baby with an unsatisfying and messy meal and mommy wearing a baby blanket home to hide all the spills. It was a disaster! Eventually we both (baby and Mommy) figured it out ... but then he was on to solid food! Now ... the with the next kid, I was ready and this aspect of mothering actually became a joy instead of a headache.
I also experienced the I Have Nothing to Show for My Day Bump. Suddenly I was needed 24/7 by this little person and many of the tasks that I had previously accomplished with ease suddenly became major accomplishments. To have the dishes done before Brett came home became one of my daily goals. I also made it a priority to get dressed ... maybe even showered. If it was a good day, Brett might even get treated to a hot meal ... made by me. Essentially, I had to re-evaluate my priorities in my daily routine: baby and family, first; house, second. I remember it being a challenge to have a home that wasn't up to my standards on a regular basis, but the important things were getting done and the rest just had to wait. Again, eventually, I found myself in a new familiar routine that allowed for me to enjoy being mom and tackle the day-to-day needs of our home. It just took time.
Finally, I also experienced the My Body Will Never Ever Be the Same Bump ... or should I say, Lump. I've heard the saying, "Nine months on, nine months off" ... but I'm currently in the "Nine years off" program! I still have a few clothing items that I have hung on to ... hoping, but most of my clothes in my closet are from my post-baby wardrobe. Sometimes it bothers me a bit to still be carrying some of Aaron ... and the other three kiddos ... around with me, but I really have had to let this go. Even if I was to be at my pre-baby weight, I know that my body has changed, spread, shifted. Mainly in the hip area. Yeah ... definitely the hip area. :) I have had to have a change in perspective about my body ... I may not be model-worthy ... but I'm a mom. And I have the stretch-marks to prove it! (And just so you first time moms know ... the second (third, fourth...) kid gives you new stretch-marks! All their very own stretch-marks! So sweet!)
So many memories from those first months home with my little Aaron. Some snapshots are kinda foggy: "Where did that picture come from ... and am I wearing your gym shorts? Awesome." Some snapshots are crystal-clear: "I think he smiled. Or maybe that was a toot and a smile ... but it was still a smile."
I just have to leave you with a song by Sara Groves that makes me cry almost every time I hear it. It's from her album, "Station Wagon ~ Songs for New Parents". She wrote many of these songs after her first baby was born. It's full of wonderful prayers and lullabies with a few silly songs thrown in for fun. I highly recommend it for your musical library. :) Here are the words to "Small Piece of You" ... but you really should buy it and hear it for yourself.
Small Piece of You
By Sara Groves
|I just want a small piece of you|
a token to put in my pocket
and I will own that one things
and it would make me happy
I just want a small piece of you
somethin to put in a locket
and i will look at it daily
and that will make me happy
I guess it's human nature to want to hold you very still
I guess it's in a mother to inject a little guilt
Go on son and see the world; I hope you see it all
But please please please don't forget to call
Free to fly free to go free to not look back
That's how free I want you though it scares me half to death
Free to wander miles and miles and free to come back home
That's how free I want you though it chills me to the bone
...Go on son and spread your wings; I hope that you take flight
But please please please don't forget to write
I know you're just a baby sleeping in your bed
And you probably have other thoughts drifting through your head
I know this conversation's a little premature
It's just that I've heard eighteen years goes by like a blur
...I know that it's not fair for me to hold you down now is it
But please please please don't forget to visit
Free to fly free to go free to come back home...
See ... she made me cry again! :) Now, go hug your kids if you've got 'em. Or at least, go call your mother! :)