Monday, May 02, 2011

Almost Home

I can't believe we're here already.  I'm scheduled to go to the hospital on Wednesday morning, May 4.

Very recently, my business partner and friend, CityMama, had a son. One of her earliest Facebook updates about the baby included a statement about how cute he is. And I froze.

Newborns are...cute?


In my experience, newborns are terrifying. They are cause for months of anxiety and fear before they even get here, and then they arrive and your fear only intensifies as every moment of every day is filled with the probability that you are doing everything wrong. You know because you went online and asked and the moms confirmed it: your way is stupid and dangerous. And then the books warned you. And the reviews on Amazon. And the horror stories on Babycenter.com.

When I was a new mom, everything was cause for near-crippling anxiety, even though I did my best to stave it off.

You MUST wear your baby because of BONDING except also if you do, your baby will suffocate. You must swaddle but NOT LIKE THAT. You'd better be using organic cotton! Are you sure it's colic and not a deathly allergy? Babies can be allergic to AIR, YOU KNOW. Why aren't you letting her cry it out at three months? You should never let her cry it out before three years! What? Moms who use the cry-it-out method should be arrested! You can't measure how much breastmilk you're providing but it's probably fine but maybe it's not enough and you have to just know because it's instinctive and you are doing great!/ Unless your baby is failing to thrive which totally your fault because you don't know anything.

Like that.

I tried once to write about how my bond with Eve wasn't immediate. I never meant to suggest that I didn't love her, simply that I didn't instantly and without hesitation feel overwhelming, obsessive I-am-in-love-with-her-every-breath love. I felt more like: I had a baby, and now I...have a baby. And she is fascinating and beautiful and I wonder who she is? While I'm figuring it out, I will do everything I can to make her existence wonderful and also not break her.

Over time, I slowly became more confident in my ability as a parent. My fear dissipated as she started growing into being Eve, and I started growing into being Eve's Mom.  Now, I am consciously aware that I once feared I didn't feel enough for her, but I can't remember those days emotionally. I feel all the overwhelming, soul-encompassing, shake-me-to-my-core love for my daughter there is to feel.

The stuff I couldn't quite get to when she was new and I was so scared.

The stuff that, without realizing it, I assumed I'd deprive myself of again.

I assumed I'd be so scared, so worried, so wrought with WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A BABY? anxiety that I'd take months to adjust. I assumed I'd start back at square one: terrified that at any moment, I could do something wrong and the baby would go away.

So when I saw Stefania's update, it was like a slap in the face. A good, great, incredibly needed slap from a mother who didn't fear her child.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I know that babies are cause for celebration, but that's only seemed true in the greater sense. Yes, bringing life into the world is a miraculous thing, but living with a newborn? That's nothing but fear and judgment, depression and anxiety, feedings and sleep-deprivation, hormones and physical uncomfortability...nothing but struggle for the first three-to-six-to-nine months.

Except what if it's not? What if you shut down the computer and close the books and turn off that voice in your head and remember that it will most likely be just fine?

What if you let go of your fear and you do, actually, trust yourself?

What if, instead of thinking HE IS YAWNING BECAUSE HE'S NOT NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP, you think, "Aww, he's yawning!" 

What if you accept that the hard stuff (because it is hard) is completely outshone by the good stuff?

What if you relish all that is distinct and special about a baby's first few months of life before it's over with? 

What if you actually look forward to bringing a new baby home?

And with that, I'm going to go pack my hospital bag.

22 comments:

  1. I wonder (because I'm not even pregnant with the second one yet, dammit!) if it will be less terrifying the 2nd time around? Like you might not be paralyzed with fear that every single thing you do is OMFG going to warp the kid beyond repair! Because now you know they're pretty resilient little creatures because fuck, we all seem to have made it out alive.

    Look forward to growing your family! I hope all goes well for you.

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  2. Good luck!!! I think it is a lot easier with the second because you have already done it before and you are not as super stressed about doing everything perfectly!

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  3. As much as having a baby is stressful other mums can add so much more stress to it! All that "well-intended" advice that serve only to make you feel even more insecure. I think we're meant to feel our own way because babies are.....people! There I said it! They're people and because of that they're different.

    I think babies can feel if we enjoy them rather than worrying about if we're doing the right thing....

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  4. I have a 30 yr old daughter and a 27 yr old son. I still vividly remember those feelings of inadequacy and non-bonding with my daughter. I cried when I found out I was pregnant the second time-I didn't think I could go through that newborn thing again. But, surprisingly the second time was so much easier. I am happy to report that I am close to both of them today and can't imagine my life without them.
    Good luck-everything will be fine!
    Susan in SoCal

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  5. I didn't listen to ANYONE my first go around. My experience was this. I was pregnant, I left the hospital with a baby, and from that moment on I went on instincts and the love that I felt. My girl was incredibly easy and cannot look back on one moment of her infant time and say without a doubt it was hard. Not even the middle of the night wake-ups and the bout of colic she had at three months. I simply sisn't second guess myself and that made ALL the difference in the world. And that is my advice to any soon-to-mother (which you have already figured out since this is your second go around.
    I am looking forward to the second baby, I can only imagine it will be even easier.

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  6. Well said, as always. So sad that other moms can (knowingly or unknowingly?) be the ones who make us feel the most self-doubt. Maybe their need to feel that they're doing everything 'right' precludes the idea that perhaps someone else might also be doing things right, although differently. Anyway, I'll be praying (because that's how I roll) that you have a safe, uneventful delivery and a happy and smile-filled start to your relationship with your new baby.

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  7. Congratulations! Praying for a safe and uneventful delivery!

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  8. I have no doubt that you are a fabulous mom. So excited for you, Ish and Eve!

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  9. I found it a lot easier the second time, but I also was smart enough to ask for drugs to battle PPD. And I hate saying this, but I have enjoyed my second daughter's infancy far more than my first. I really want a do-over.

    It's a lot less scary not having to deal with the unknown. You've done this before. You've got this. Good luck with your delivery!

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  10. Good Luck! It is the scariest happy time ever.

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  11. Just went through the first six months with my first. I hear ya on the first three months. The memory is foggy albeit painful. We stopped reading the books or online stuff when we realized that instinct and some good sense were a pretty good guide. Oh, the relief!
    The big fat reward is that now, at six months, he's a barrel of fun and love. And we love him to bits, body and soul.

    Too scared of doing those first three months again to get started on number two. We need to enjoy this little guy alone for a bit.

    Congratulations and all the very best wishes for a smooth and

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  12. (ooops) .....easy delivery.

    (from the sketch artist in NYC, who still follows you, but is too lazy to figure out how else to sign in...other than anonymous.

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  13. Scared myself silly first baby. Second, vowed not to read books. So. Much. Easier.
    Best of luck!

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  14. The second baby is so much easier - less OMFG I'm going to break it and more the first one is still alive so I guess I must have done something right. You are going to be amazed tomorrow holding that teeny-tiny little baby, and ENJOY your *cough cough* vacation in the hospital! SO happy for you.

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  15. Congratulations Kristy! You've got it all figured out now... ;) Or at least as well as anyone ever does.

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  16. Sending good delivery vibes your way! So exciting!

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  17. As the mother of one who is still contemplating two (and scared to death about it), I would like to thank you for the best post I've ever read on this topic.

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  18. Congratulations! He's absolutely beautiful. And he and you are going to be just fine. xoxo

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  19. OHMYGOSH this was so good to read! I'm only 24 weeks but already have moments of such anxiety about birth, breastfeeding, diapering, sleep deprivation, swaddling, fevers, daycare, etc, etc. that I can't relax!! Maybe it WILL be just fine.

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  20. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! YAYYY!!!! I just read the news in my CleverGirls email.
    Interestingly enough, my verification word was, "pregn."

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  21. You rock. This post is why I was scared to be pregnant with the second one. Crazy-ass weirdness, and fortunately the second cures you (mostly) of that dreadful experience.

    Bonded - and for those new or about to be now moms, one piece of advice: let people hold the baby, let them change the baby, take a nap, and drink a nice glass of red wine every day. You are strong and lovely and capable and will be better for congratulating yourself on this miraculous experience than chastising yourself for not doing everything 'right.'

    So, that's my thousand words.

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