Being a first time mother, was terrifying! I was a nervous wreck, and just so unsure of myself. Thank goodness; I had baby brothers, nephews, and had baby sat little boys...but... ummm, this one was mine. I spent hours prior to the big day: watching television shows about birth, reading the tell all books, asking a million questions of my mother and mother-in-law, and had many sleepless nights tossing and turning. I took tons of pictures of my growing belly, and was just amazed with the very process of being and staying pregnant. I think back on those days, and can't help but laugh at myself!
Part of my trepidation, was the surreal aspect that I was really going to have a baby to hold forever. After having three miscarriages, and feeling the pain and loss of still not having a baby to bring home; my heart was broken. I began to except our fate, we just would not be parents. I had reached rock bottom, and mental illness clouded my days. Through all of the dark nights and struggles; I prayed for a baby, and asked if there was any way for me to conceive and carry to full term. After trying for eight years, was it really possible?
Fast forward, we now lived in New Jersey and I was five days past my due date, with Michael Jr. I was huge, and my doctor told me to come to the hospital for monitoring, as thought I was having contractions. We lived less than a mile from the hospital, so my mom took me to the hospital .We told Mike and my Dad, that they would probably just send us back home. Little did I know, that I was in labor and would stall at 3cm, and Mikey's heart beat would be irregular. In a whirl wind of activity, and very little being explained to me, I experienced new and unexplainable feelings as we were wheeled back to surgery. Our son was born via Cesarean Section, and I had a huge reaction to the anesthesia. I did not see my son for 4 hours, hold him or get the bonding moments that I have heard about. My mother sat with me as my body shook, and reacted as the anesthesia slowly wore off. (Thank God, Mike stayed with our son, the pictures during those few hours are such a joy to look at!) I remember asking to see or hold my son, and the nurse looked at me and said "What do you mean?" The nursing staff on the regular floor had no idea that I hadn't seen my son, since the first few minutes he was born. They knew that Mike was with him, and he was never alone, but they didn't know that I hadn't even held him yet. I will never forget the moment of holding him for the first time, his eyes were huge, and he was so alert! I looked at him, he looked at me...and the two of us just shared a moment, it was absolute love at first sight for me. In the next few days, we would learn that something was lost in those few hours; Michael never latched or wanted to bond through breast feeding, he was a Daddy's boy, and I was secretly jealous. I questioned what I did wrong or that I wasn't doing something right? Little Michael was a miniature version of his father, he looked like Mike, and had many of his mannerisms! We finally were released from the hospital five days later, and it opened a whole new level of nerves! I now had to take this little baby home, and care for him all on my own.
Thank goodness for Mike, and my parents! My Dad had to fly back to St. Louis, but before he left, he made my favorite meal of beef strognoff, from scratch. Mike returned to work, and my mother helped me with feedings, let me sleep, set up and cleaned the breast pump, boiled bottles, changed diapers and helped me to get to know this little person. I wish I could say that everything was perfect in those first few weeks, just like all of the shows I had watched or the books I had read; but they weren't! I learned very quickly how to be mother, once my mom flew back to St. Louis. Things finally fell into place, and I started to find the sheer joy and excitement of being a new mother. Once I stopped trying to be perfect, or fit into the ideal image of what a new mom should be, I finally relaxed and allowed myself to except motherhood for how very amazing it could be!
Ryan's story is so different in many ways; he was born in St. Louis, via another C-Section, but without a reaction to the anesthesia, Ryan never left my sight. He latched minutes after we were in the recovery room, we bonded in those moments. Even though we were surrounded by family and friends, those few moments after surgery were crucial to me, as if no one else was even in the room. Ryan had colic, and never established a sleep pattern...so he wasn't perfect either!
I can now laugh at myself, and wonder why I set myself up, expecting to have perfect babies...but alas I did. I learned so much, in those early days as a mother. I was taken to a whole new level of humility, from the moment they were born. We are all imperfect, and have so much to learn while on our journey of life!