My twins rediscovered a set of pictures from their big sister’s babyhood. These are pictures taken during her first 18 months or so – that blissful time of her childhood when we didn’t quite realize what we were up against. As I was putting the pictures away again one of them hit me right between the eyes. It is the classic picture of a new mom right after giving birth, disheveled, tired, and oh so happy, holding the baby as if they’ll never let go. In the picture I am seriously in need of a comb, the hospital gown is barely adequate, and I am smiling as if I just won the lottery. In a way I did. It’s hard to believe, but I have very little trouble remembering the emotions of that day. They are still so true today.
Exhausted – physically and emotionally. My labor with the child was rapid, but the pushing was not. We had planned for and were blessed with a natural labor, but it took three hours to actually push her out. We realized later that she had trouble getting past my tailbone. I was tired for good reason. I’m still tired today, for entirely different reasons. I’ve ranted about it before, so I won’t go there again, but no matter how you do it motherhood will wear a body out. I crave rest like I’ve never craved it before.
Overwhelmed – Shortly after the child was born I realized that I had no idea how to be a mother. I had spent a lot of time doing the best job I could of being pregnant, planning my maternity leave, preparing for labor, setting up the nursery…I had very little idea of what came after the big event. Then, even the parenting books I started reading to shore up my knowledge base didn’t help very much. I didn’t realize it at the time, but much of their advice didn’t apply. I figured a lot out on my own, and in the process gained confidence, but at each stage I realize how little I know about how to proceed, and the future seems to be coming on quickly.
Proud – By the end of my labor there were about seven people in the room yelling at me to push (yeah…) and they all told me how rare it was in that hospital for a labor to progress naturally. They were all amazed. I felt like I had conquered the world! People still tell me they don’t know how I do it. I’m not exactly sure what they mean anymore, because honestly what I do is not THAT extraordinary. My pride has shifted from my own accomplishments to those of my daughter. She’s the amazing one. Every day she overcomes language, sensory, social, and academic barriers and hangs in there with neurotypical peers.
Happy – It was all worth it that day over eight years ago. All of the discomfort, pain, confusion, and work paid off with a beautiful, if challenging, baby girl. It’s still worth it today. All of the IEPs, doctor appointments, explanations, social skill groups, assessments, and tears are paying off. Every time I see her smile, I can’t help but smile, too.