“Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
~ every parent in history
I was pretty confident when I got pregnant with my first child that I was ready to be a parent. I knew that having a child would completely change our lives…turn it upside down. I knew that my needs would no longer come first. I was prepared to take the back seat.
I read books and voraciously devoured every bit of information I could gleam from the internet about becoming a parent. And most importantly I asked my friends for advice. I told them to tell me EVERYTHING…don’t leave anything out. I wanted the good, the bad and the ugly. And they gave it to me.
But nothing they told me seemed insurmountable. All of the tough times they talked about were just that…moments in time that would pass. I expected the sleep deprivation, the loneliness of being at home, the crying, pooping and puking.
"I got this," I thought. "No problem."
But when my first daughter was born nothing went as planned. She arrived 7 weeks early by emergency c-section and I didn’t get to see her for the first 12 hours of her life. The emotions that I felt during those hours were enough to tell me that my life had indeed changed.
I was mad at everyone that had seen my little girl when I hadn’t. I was angry at the doctors for keeping me away from her and for my family for thinking that showing me photos of the daughter I had yet to touch would make me feel better.
I was desperate to hold her. It was as if a piece of me that I didn’t even know I had was suddenly missing and I was incomplete. And it wasn’t until I was finally taken to the NICU and was handled my tiny little bundle that I was whole again.
I was forever changed. She had my heart. And 3 years later I was surprised to find out that I had enough room to share it all over again when my second daughter arrived.
Becoming a parent was a difficult adjustment. But meeting the physiological needs of my girls was never an issue – it took a lot of work and effort but it was all doable.
It’s the emotional toll that has been the toughest. The fact that I am not able to watch movies or TV or read books like I used to because now I read them from a mother’s perspective. I simply can’t handle any storylines where a child is sick or hurt. I’ve actually gone back to re-read books I once loved only to abandon them midway because I forgot that a child in the story had cancer.
As a working mother I spend my days apart from my kids and I find myself constantly thinking about them. About what they are doing right that minute. About whether they miss me. About if they are happy.
And I am pretty sure these are feelings that will not go away…rather they will evolve. As my girls get older my worries about them will change…but the fact that I worry will not.
Becoming a mother has defined me. It is unavoidable. The moment my children were born my life was no longer my own – it was theirs. That’s the deal…and I’m cool with that.