This Friday will mark eight weeks since I became a mom.
I’m a MOM. Say whaaaaaaat??
I still don’t feel like someone’s mother. I have a mother, I know many mothers-but me? It still has not hit me that I am now included in that group and yet in many ways I feel like I’ve been Henry’s mom for a long time. It’s taken me two months to even be able to attempt to write something about this because it’s still so overwhelming. I look at him while he’s sleeping in my arms and vacillate between complete disbelief and all consuming love and desire to protect and care for this little being. My son.
I was nervous I wouldn’t feel that way. And to be honest, it took me a little while to be overcome by love and “mama-bear” kind of feelings. I was never a super maternal person- which is partially why we waited a long time to have a baby. I wasn’t sure I even wanted it. And when I finally became pregnant I worried a lot about not feeling the same instant all-consuming love that other mothers described. And to be perfectly honest, for the first two weeks I didn’t. I was completely clothes lined by the overwhelming task of caring for this fragile little being that needed me to survive. It was terrifying and anxiety producing for me, a chronic worrier by nature. And it seems silly but the fact that he looked so different than what I pictured he would also kept me from feeling the instant bond I thought I was supposed to have. Being a dark and ridiculously hairy person (truly, there are scarring memories of middle school teasing about my “gorilla legs”) I was baffled by this blonde, hairless little fella who really looked nothing like me at all!
And then the mastitis threw me for a major loop- feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck paired with no sleep, breastfeeding drama (the illness totally threw us off our groove and Henry started losing weight) and a crying newborn made for a pretty weepy, inconsolable Erin. I felt like my relatively easy, managed, happy life was GONE FOREVER and instead I had this needy baby stuck on my boob 24-7. Not to mention my ability to not keep up with this blog, my company and adult life in general. I was sad, stressed and so terrified that I wasn’t doing enough to keep Henry healthy and happy while also forgoing my own health and happiness. I recall holding him crying, while he was crying, and saying to Andrew “why do people do this more than once???”
But I made sure to keep going to talk with my therapist about all these feelings, and she helped me realize that how I felt wasn’t all that abnormal. It’s a very hard change to go from an independent, busy, working gal to having to be at the beck and call of a newborn. And the lack of bonding was pretty common too. It helped to hear that and know that it too would pass.
And it did. After I sort of “hit bottom” I started to bounce back. I stopped trying to “do it all” and settled into not being able to do much at all other than take care of Henry and take care of myself. Which was such a hard change of gears for someone who is happiest when insanely busy. But it became nice and calming to know all I needed to do in a day was simply nurse, bond and snuggle with my baby. And maybe read some celebrity gossip and check my email to stay sane. :) Breastfeeding became less stressful and way more enjoyable. In fact, I have gotten so used to it that I am pretty confident sometime in the near future I will answer my door without realizing I have a boob hanging out (” Oh heeeyyyyy UPS man! What’s up?!”) Now motherhood feels natural and joyful and when little Henry smiles at me my heart just swells to previously unknown proportions.
And so today I return to work part-time and feel both very sad to leave him and very excited to get back into my working groove. I’m worried about him fussing with his bottles, leaving him with his nanny and not being here to watch him like a hawk- but yet the idea of sitting amongst a pile of fabrics and working on new homes is so thrilling! GROWN UP STUFF! YAAAAYYYYY! The fact that I can come home during the day to be with him for an hour or so helps a lot with my ability to not be a sobbing mess over it. I know that once I am comfortable with this new schedule and leaving him I will love the balance of work and motherhood. I know as much as I fear leaving him that the full time stay at home mom thing is not for me. Some women just KNOW that is what they were meant to do, but I never did.
What I do know is that I am completely and totally in love with my son and SO, SO grateful that science and medicine and whole lot of hoping allowed us to have this beautiful boy. I look at him and just want more than anything for him to be healthy, happy and successful- on his terms, not mine. Whatever it turns out brings him joy, be it dancing or being a doctor (and I’m dying to know what it is!), I want him to find the kind of satisfaction in life that I have. I want him to know he is loved and supported by his father and I no matter what. He has given me the gift of removing my focus on myself and instead putting it on someone else- which actually has made me a much happier person with a real purpose beyond the material and selfish. The world has come into perspective a bit more, and for that I will be forever grateful.
So thanks for letting me be your mom Henry- as absurd as it may still seem to me!