The Reluctant Mother, Remix
Thirteen days ago I transitioned from being a miserable pregnant lady into being a mother. I'll save my Labor & Delivery story for a later date, in a post clearly labeled TRIGGER WARNING, for people who prefer to avoid those kinds of painfully intimate details. Suffice it to say I found the initiation ritual into the clan of motherhood to be adequately arduous.
But in the end, I was not found wanting. We welcomed 7lbs 8oz., 19 1/4 inches of Nora Jean Viscardi at 4:28 a.m. on Friday, June 12, 2015. I've been told she was born one chubby cheek at a time, and as soon as they laid her on my chest, I knew it was all over for me. I was her mother, and she was my baby, and all the doubt that I had grappled with over the past ten months had magically vanished.
Then James leaned over, and whispered, "Oh my God... Hi, Nora... I'm your Daddy." And her tiny little grey-black eyes snapped wide open and her unwieldy little baby head lolled around, looking for the face to connect with the voice that had read her Harold and the Purple Crayon all those times. The voice she recognized. The voice of her person. She came out knowing the voices of the people who had tended to her all those long months of sickness and soreness and general feeling-like-death. I'm telling you in that moment, seeing her recognize James, it all became worth it.
In the thirteen days we've been parents we've been shocked to find the roles suit us so effortlessly. Nobody is more surprised by this than me. I didn't expect her to fit so snugly into a hole in my life we weren't even aware we had, but she does. She plugs up the places of doubt in my heart. She's teaching me to be more patient and gracious, more laid back and more level-headed.
Don't get me wrong-- we're exhausted. No sooner had we brought her home than it was discovered she has a heart murmur (something she'll very likely grow out of) and she tore her umbilical cord off early (she's sassy, for sure) and my husband's family all came down to visit for 5-6 days. The house has been a den of madness. The boxes aren't even unpacked, and I'm still on bed rest until tomorrow, and everything is whizzing past us at a comically blurry speed. James went back to work today because his paternity leave is over. How did that happen so quickly?
And yet. I still find several hours' worth of time each day to lay with her on my chest, smelling the crown of her head, wondering if it's possible to physically get love-drunk off the sticky-sweaty-sweet scent of another small human being. I believe it is.
I count her fingers and toes to make sure nothing has gone missing in the night and it never fails to stun me that my body built this tiny human from scratch. She'll make an angry face and I'll see my own short temper paint itself across her features. She'll yawn and toss us a dopey little grin when she's had too much to eat and I'll see the wonderful lightness I love so much in James radiate out from her. Yes, she looks like my husband (apparently most babies do resemble their fathers in the first year) but her personality unfolds to reveal more and more pieces of me each day. Lord help us all.
And that's where we're at: 13 days of being a mother and all my old worries are blown away on the hot summer breeze like dandelion seeds. I find myself, after all, right where I'm supposed to be, standing tall with my family, figuring it out day by day with James, keeping track of fingers and toes and doling out more kisses than can be tallied.
Motherhood fits me just fine. And unlike most Real Life Situations where I find at least 80% of my anxieties to have been well-founded, I can say with all honesty that it's all come together here quite seamlessly.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to count her fingers and toes one more time. You know... just to be safe.