I am a Mother and a Homeowner. Even though I’m 31, I don’t really feel old enough or experienced enough to be either of those things. It’s still weird to hear people refer to me as Mrs. But, 2016 was the year I officially became an adult – or at least became adult enough to be responsible for a mortgage and the care of a tiny human.
There are a lot of things I didn’t expect about having a baby. However, some of the best advice we got was that your life doesn’t HAVE to change as much as you think it does. I mean, obviously, you are suddenly a parent. That’s a big change BUT you don’t have to give up the parts of your life you love. You don’t have to quit traveling, you don’t have to stop hanging out with your friends, you don’t have to stop doing creative things or pursuing passions or stop working. That piece of advice was life changing for me. I would say one of my biggest fears about becoming a parent was that my entire life would change. I loved my life. I didn’t want it to change.
I’m not an idiot. I didn’t think after having a baby NOTHING was going to change. I didn’t think it was going to be easy. And it hasn’t been. But it hasn’t been terrible difficult either. Not as difficult as I thought it would be. But, I was probably more prepared than most – being that we were some of the last of our friends to have kids. Several of my friends were already on baby #2 and I’d heard my fair share of horror stories.
Credit: Blazel Photography
Labor was both harder and easier than I thought it would be. I decided to have an all natural labor. Partly, because I really wanted to trust my body to experience birth as it was designed to, partly because I watched “The Business of Being Born” and read about a million books on natural childbirth that made it seem like an awesome and magical rite into womanhood, and partly because I wanted to give a giant middle finger to all those Doctors and medical “experts” who said a diabetic couldn’t have a natural birth. Maybe it was more the last reason than anything else.
Brittany Gibbons (author of the blog BrittanyHerself.com) said it best in her book, Fat Girl Walking:
Natural childbirth is a little bit like going down in an airplane: you have absolutely no choice, there is nothing you can do, your course has been set. Unless you are a pilot of magician, the plane will crash and the baby will come out of you, one way or another…
I suppose that’s true of any kind of childbirth, the baby is going to come out, but with no previous births to compare it to (medicated or not), having a natural childbirth felt like a crashing airplane. It’s intense, you wonder if you’re going to die, think it might take forever, and then BAM suddenly it’s over.
In the words of one of my family members who had just seen the birth video, “wow, it was like you were possessed.” I was loud. I also didn’t care that I was loud. It was long, and hard, and I feel like a warrior who came out of battle. Do you know why women talk about their deliveries like war stories. Because they are war stories. Becoming a Mother is like being inducted into an exclusive club with other warrior women. Some women get pregnant after years of trying and fertility treatments. Some women get pregnant because of a one-time “oops”. Some women push their babies out of their vagina… like, this watermelon sized creature is tearing it’s way out. Some have their babies cut out. Some women have no medication, some do. Some women experience a crazy emergency delivery with a ton of complications and some and some babies come out like they are riding a slip ‘n slide – popping out before they even get to the hospital. Women are fucking warriors. We came, we fought, we were part of this insane thing called creation, and we lived to talk about it. I mean, it’s insane. A HUMAN BEING GREW INSIDE OF MY BODY AND THEN I PUSHED IT OUT! How absolutely crazy is that?! Yeah, it’s a fucking club, and I have passed the initiation to get there.
So… 22 hours later they place this tiny, screaming, still-attached tiny human on my chest. This tiny little girl who is 100% dependent on us. This little girl has not yet learned how to talk, walk, eat, or function as a human. WE are supposed to teach her all of those things. The weight of this didn’t hit me all at once. Mostly, I felt relief. Relief that she was finally here, but mostly, relief that labor was over. I have friends who said that immediately after delivery they felt a surge of love like they never felt before. That wasn’t me. I was mostly tired and sore. I was overwhelmed. Happy, but overwhelmed. Also, I just wanted to eat and take a nap.
I felt an intense sense of protective-love pretty early on. Probably a few hours after delivery, after the shock of everything started to wear off. But that intense “I’ve never loved like this before” love… that didn’t come until a few weeks or even a few months later. I have been reassured that this is totally normal. I mean, babies are needy. They can’t do a whole lot. They cry, poop, sleep and eat. And pretty much in that order, on rotation, 24 hours a day. And then, suddenly, they do something different. She smiled. Or started making sounds. Or started producing real tears. And suddenly I knew why parents post a MILLION pictures of their kids doing the most mundane things. Because when YOUR kid does it, it’s basically the COOLEST THING EVER! And your kid is obviously the best at doing that thing. And you will protect your kid from anything. And when something hurts them it hurts you. (I used to call BS on that parental line, “this hurts me more than it hurts you”… but I mostly get it now. Especially shots. If I have to be there and watch her get shots or get her blood drawn I need some serious moral support.)
So… now that Nova is here, what does that make me? I mean, obviously I become a Mother, but what does that MEAN?! Am I the same person? Am I a new person? Is this a new identity or an additional title? I mean, I don’t know. It could be all of those things or none of them. I guess I’ll let you know once I figure it out.
This is just a crazy new adventure and I can’t wait to find out how it turns out.