Saturday, December 18, 2010. The day I found out I would be a mother. I spent the next 40 weeks and 1 day preparing for having a baby, researching the infinite amount of baby gear I’d need, decorating a beautiful nursery and envisioning our new life as a family of three. Pregnancy is such an exciting time, and I loved the anticipation and the time leading up to the big day.
I met up with an old friend last weekend who was a few days away from having her first baby. I remember being in that place like it was yesterday. Soooooo ready to have a baby. And yet in hindsight, sooooooo clueless about what was about to happen to me.
The truth is that no amount of research can prepare you for the gravity of motherhood. I think entering into motherhood with blissful naiveté is part of God’s plan, otherwise nobody would ever have children. I saw it in my friend’s eyes when I visited her in the hospital just two days later. This is hard. Why didn’t anybody tell me? I’m not sure I can do this.
My first moments, days and weeks with my precious baby Earthside went nothing how I’d imagined. I was so out of it from heavy doses of meds after my c-section that I have very little recollection of the entire day after seeing Gabriella in the operating room. I have pictures of my mom holding Gabriella up to nurse while I was still semi-concious and pictures of family holding her, but no memories.
The day we brought Gabriella home from the hospital, we had to pull over less than a mile down the road because the car seat incline was completely wrong and her head was slumping forward like a rag doll. Then we got home and changed a poopy diaper in a scene that looked like a comedy routine. Definitely not what I had planned!
I experienced a painful c-section recovery and had trouble with breastfeeding that dominated our first few weeks at home. Add in some out-of-whack hormones and waking up every hour and a half and and I was a complete mess. Thankfully, I had my mom staying with us for a month and my amazingly supportive husband and we made it through those first few weeks relatively unscathed.
Weeks turned to months and months turned to years and it still hasn’t gotten any easier. Once we master one parenting challenge, a new one appears. By now I’ve learned to quit waiting for the fairytale ending and instead to do my best to enjoy the ride, no matter how imperfect it may be.
When you’re pregnant, there’s this strange phenomenon where people want to tell you the worst possible things about childbirth and being a parent. Yes, it is hard. It is exhausting. It is a thankless job. But surely there must be an upside?
Motherhood is not a fairytale, but it is wonderful. The first days and weeks are so hard because it’s such a steep learning curve for mommy and baby. I remember looking into Gabriella’s eyes at just a few days old begging her to work with me and just nurse properly. Then there was the moment that she did- where I got to just relax, snuggle and nurse my baby, providing comfort and nourishment like nobody else could.
Then there were first words- mama and dada- two words that even before they had associated meaning just melted our hearts. There are hugs, laughter, tea parties, favorite stories and so much more. My husband, a self-proclaimed math nerd, tells me that the joy our children bring grows exponentially. It’s hard to imagine having more fun and loving them even more, but with each passing day, week, month and year that is exactly what happens.
I am certain that every age and stage will have its own challenges. But today, I can look into my daughter’s eyes and she’ll say, “I love you, mama.” That makes every past, present and future struggle completely worth it.
So my friend, look into your sweet baby’s eyes and remember that yes, it is hard, but you can do it. It won’t be a fairytale, but it will be worth it.
What makes motherhood worth it for you? I’d love to hear about your parenting joys on our Facebook page.