Friday, August 22, 2008

to all my first-time mommy friends

When I was pregnant with G I didn't read a whole lot of books. I tried in the beginning, but I read one week-by-week book that told me everything that could possibly go wrong with the developing baby, things that you couldn't possibly change, so I THREW that one aside. I always checked and to find out what the little baby was developing that week--fingernails, eyelashes, things that make mommies happy--but the only book I read from cover to cover was The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy. So when little G was finally born I was completely unprepared. I'm not sure that would have been any different if I had actually read some of those books, but anyway, that's where I was.

I was over the moon when I found out I was pregnant. I would stand in the shower and rub my belly before I had the pregnant pooch, I would talk to the baby inside so that he'd know my voice when he was born. Then, finally, my little sweetie was born. They put him on my chest and as I talked to him he'd quiet down, squinting at me, searching for where my voice came. He was beautiful and perfect. But I didn't feel the butterflies. Don't get me wrong, I was incredibly protective over him, I loved him, but he was incredibly foreign to me. I thought I should know everything about him when he was born because he was my son, he grew inside me, but I didn't even know what he looked like. I had to study his face, his toes, his hands; I had to be patient and learn his personality. It was so surprising to me that I could be handed a little baby that was mine, the product of a wonderful love between me and my husband, but still not know anything about him.

In the recovery room I couldn't get him to stop crying. I would hold him and he would cry. But then my mother and my mother-in-law would hold him and he would be at peace. Shouldn't he only be happy when he was with me? I was his mother, after all. That made me scared to hold him. I felt guilty holding a sweet, crying baby, when I couldn't comfort him. I also had decided that I was going to breastfeed. Because all the studies said that was best for the baby, short-term and long-term. Well newborns eat every 2 hours, so that meant I was up every two hours to feed him. Every two hours for a few weeks. Exhausting does not begin to describe it. One day I laid on the couch the entire day, snuggling with my baby and watching every expression that crossed his face. That was all the energy I had. But I was blessed because Hubby is/was an amazing father, jumping in and doing everything that needed to be done, but an awesome husband couldn't take away the pressure I put on myself.

Eventually G began to be comforted by me and seek me out. Then, 12 weeks into it, little G finally smiled. This little boy, who was so needy and never said "thank you" for all my hard work and sleepless nights, smiled at me. And then he smiled all the time. A few weeks later I was in the living room when I heard the most beautiful giggling coming from his bedroom. Hubby was changing his diaper, blowing G's bottom dry before putting the new diaper on, and G was cracking up. G's first laugh was an all out giggle-fest. And my heart soared.

Over time I grew to understand him, I was able to anticipate what he would do next, and he relied on me. He sought me out in a room full of people because I was the one who comforted him. I finally felt like a Mom. And I had butterflies every time I looked at him.

Things still aren't perfect. On this blog I only talk about the happy things that happen around here, because on those bad days that I've snapped at my children and yelled at them because of my short temper, the times when I can barely face my husband and tell him what I've done, I'm certainly not going to get on here and tell all of you about it. But what has helped me is realizing that I am not perfect, and no other mom is, either. All of us moms are trying to figure it out, stumbling around and confused. Most importantly, I pray every single day that God give me His patience and His love to share with my children, that God take them and smooth out the rough edges. And He blesses me and gives me patience and steps in and calms me down when I feel my anger rising. He gives me more love to give them than I could ever find in myself.

What I most want to say is: Ask For Help. In the beginning I refused to ask for help because I didn't want to admit that I wasn't capable of doing it all on my own. But the truth is that no one is capable of doing it on their own. Only in these modern times do we mothers live in our own houses, with our husbands at work and family far away. We are supposed to live in tight little communities where our families, filled with mothers, aunts and older sisters are there to help us day and night. So please, Ask For Help. It will make you stronger.


Prairie Mama said...

Great post! I have come to realize that many moms feel guilty a lot. Guilt isn't from the Lord! We do not have to walk in defeat; we can walk in the power of the Creator of the universe!

When we do mess up there is a great opportunity to teach our kids how to turn from our ways and ask for forgiveness. A child is never to young to hear a mommy say "I was wrong and I am sorry. Will you please forgive me?"

I have found that children are so forgiving it melts and changes my heart.

Thanks for sharing this post Erin!

Fox Family said...

This is so true! I have come to realize--especially living 1500 miles from any family how important it is to rely on others! It was very difficult at first, but thankfully God always places the people we need in our lives, just when we need them most!

Angie said...

Lovely- thanks for being my family here in Kansas