Children tell us who’s the boss from the moment they’re conceived. We think we’re in control but that’s never the reality.
“Hmmm….I think I’ll make mommy vomit now.”
“Hmmm… maybe another pit stop is in order.”
From morning sickness, to pressure on my bladder, to swollen feet- that is, when I could see my feet- my daughter was in charge.
It was kind of a preview of things to come.
I had pre eclampsia so I was hospitalized the week before delivery. That means my baby was seen as a threat by my body. The only treatment was delivery. I was so close to my due date they decided to induce me and see if I could deliver on my own. After a week, my vitals were crashing, so my providers decided a C- section was the only answer since I hadn’t dilated more then 2 cm.
I swear during surgical prep my daughter heard me praying. As they wheeled me to the operating room, I started to scream that I felt something had changed! Everyone thought I was nuts-what could have possibly changed in a half hour after days of nothing? But sure enough, I’d gone to full dilation. My sweet little girl had wanted to come into the world on her own terms. But even then she took 12 long, painful hours to do it!
Once born, those little angels continue to wreak havoc. My baby’s sweet little cry in the hospital changed to outright screams heard down the street once we were home. I didn’t think a baby had such lung capacity.
What could I possibly be doing wrong?
She was dry.
She was fed.
She was burped.
She was loved.
She was held, but of course not too much. We were told back then not to pick babies up the moment they cried. Wait and see if they really need you first. Otherwise, they would never sleep on their own. But don’t let them cry unheeded, either.
I was going crazy with all the contradictory advice!
I couldn’t wait for the day I could finally ask her,
“What? What was the problem that you couldn’t give dear old Mom and Dad a break???”
Of course, by that time, she had no idea either.
I remember thinking,
“This is my lot in life. I wanted a baby. ”
For months life is turned upside down. Night and day merge. We become zombies just going through the motions. Mine didn’t sleep for more then a couple hours straight for months.
Then, when you think you can’t take one more sleepless night, they seem to understand.
Just like that, the little angel sleeps through the night.
I remember everything scared me. Sure I was a physician, but I had never been a Mother. I was convinced my ex-husband and I would drown her in the infant tub. Early on, we were about to have her hearing professionally tested, worried she was deaf. Did you do this? Clap your hands in your baby’s ear to get a response? Or drop a book, in the hopes your fears about hearing issues would be over with one startled look from the baby? It took days before she’d finally had enough, then cried at any little noise for the next few.
At one point, I thought she wasn’t getting enough breast milk. Unlike formula, it’s hard to quantitate, so I called La Leche League, a group devoted to breast feeding. I was told she should just be left next to me at night, ready to latch on at any time! Really, they couldn’t add more guilt to my already fragile psyche? Now I had to stay alert and available at all times!? Just one big, accessible snack? How would I not crush her? Thankfully my pediatrician nixed that idea immediately and demanded all future issues go to him.
As a toddler they stretch their wings looking for small ways to take on more control of their environment. Taking a few steps, making a few sounds. That’s when the real fun starts. When they can literally get into everything. It’s the terrible twos for a reason. But no matter what, that sweet little face, those pudgy little arms and coy smile make you forget everything but how much your heart bursts whenever they are close.
Thankfully by the,
“I can do what I want” and
“You don’t know anything”
teen years, we’ve invested far too much to give them back. There’s a reason we get so many wonderful, loving years before this time.
Like the old joke about a 18-year old son who thought his Father was an idiot, and then marveled at how smart his Father was once he himself had turned 25, time is the true equalizer.
We all have our stories. Ones that make new Moms wonder what exactly they were thinking. And others that tell them to keep the faith. It does improve. . . for a while.
Now my daughter is a grown woman and causes a whole slew of new struggles. But that’s the way with all human interactions, particularly adult ones. We have evolved into separate lives, hopefully now able to honor each other’s perspective and needs. Morphing from a parent- child relationship to a more equal one, with no one the boss. Just mutual respect and adoration.
Looking back on all the ups, downs, and long nights, hoping your advice is heeded, heartaches and triumphs, doing everything in your power to keep them safe, one truth remains: I don’t know a parent who’d change a thing. I know I wouldn’t.
Insanity is hereditary
You get it from your children