I have a lot of friends who are pregnant right now. Seems I was ahead of the curve in my personal world, although I was right on the money with the rest of the world. Yes, I contributed to the year that the most babies were born in the US ever. And yes, I am a little ashamed. Oh well.
But a lot of the people I know are having babies in 2009 and I can’t help but think back to the days when I was pregnant myself. I adored being pregnant in a lot of ways. It was exciting, the whole world seemed ahead of me, and people were so damn nice to me all the time. Friends tried to tell me what it would be like to have a baby and I took some of it to heart and ignored some of it. The truth is that there is no way to know what it’s like to have a baby until you have a baby. There is no way that you can truly prepare yourself for your entire life to change. These are the three things that shocked or impressed or impacted me the most about becoming a parent. That were not like I thought they would be.
I was warned that I might not fall in love with my baby at first sight. “Ha,” I thought. “I already love my baby so much.” But this was more true than I ever could have imagined. I had a primal, basic, biological love for my son the second he was born. I wanted to keep him safe above everything else. But I fell in love with him slowly and am still falling in love with him every day. I didn’t even know him when he was born. He didn’t know him. He didn’t even have a personality yet to know. And at times I almost hated him for ruining my life – for changing pretty much everything I knew up to that point. But it became worth it. And there are times I admit I want to banish him to a house on the other side of the world. But most days I want to hold him tight and laugh with him and help him grow. He really has become the light of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Breastfeeding was SO much easier than I expected. It was never physically difficult. It never hurt (except those plugged ducts!!). I know that it’s not like this for everyone, but it does happen. And it was a bonding experience I would never want to miss. But it is EXHAUSTING! Newborns eat more than I thought possible and they don’t care if it’s night or day. When he was tiny, I was very much tied to him all the time. Yes, there were times I wanted to get away and not worry about my boobs filling to uncomfortable proportions or wonder if he would starve rather than drink from a bottle and yes there were times I wanted to say “no, baby, you cannot have control over my body right now.” There were also times that I just stared down at him and stroked his hair and loved him. I can’t even describe how good it made me feel to be that provider for my child. And now that Brady is almost done, I miss those days of cuddling with him as he nursed. Breastfeeding has been a very positive experience for us and I’m proud of us for making it this far.
It is hard to be parents in a marriage. Before we had a baby, I could never imagine the husband and I breaking up. We had made it through the hardest things in life – unemployment, death, lack of money, family conflicts – just about everything. And we made it through it all stronger than before. But adding a third person to the mix has been more difficult than any of it. Not sleeping and still being nice is hard. The “staying at home vs working at the office” conflict is hard. The “who is going to change that diaper” game is hard. And most of all the “are we sharing this equally guilt and blame game” is hard. But it’s also amazing to look at a person who shares both of your faces. It’s amazing to be the people who are at either side of a new human’s first steps. And it’s amazing to build a family with the person you love. You just have to remember that mommy and daddy are important too and that they need to like each other for this family thing to work.
Just some of my observations on the phenomenal change that occurs with welcoming a child into your world. Things that I could not fathom when I was expecting this little guy and which I cannot accurately convey to those who have yet to experience it. Every experience is different and each person will be shocked by different things. It just blows my mind how life-changing one of the most basic human functions can be.