A post, or several posts, with plenty of pictures, extensive discussion on the cake, etc., will be coming – I have to wait for my pops to download the pictures, as we took them on his gorgeous camera. You’ll see the difference.
This post, though, has been a year coming. It’s a reflection.
I never shared my birth story on here, and I’m not sure that I ever will. Plenty of people know it already, and a year later, it just seems 300ish days too late. But suffice to say that from the first moments, Eli was trying to teach me a lesson: Mom, you cannot control everything.
You can plan, plan, plan… and in the end, baby does what he wants to do, and you’ve got to find the grace and the energy to follow suit.
I do want to say though, that I remember his birth. I haven’t forgotten. I remember the little details, like trying to eat bread and almond butter in the birthing center kitchen, while Peter Pan played on the television. Walking around the hospital campus, over and over, trying to speed up dilation Stopping every 2 minutes for contractions. Noticing every now and then that it was a gorgeous day. That amazing feeling when finally, FINALLY, I had an epidural, and could not imagine why I had fought so hard against it for hours and hours…
But then there was the baby. This tiny, red-faced, shiny-eyed creature. And I felt so lost and so overwhelmed, because it wasn’t like I had imagined it. It wasn’t like in the movies. It wasn’t like anything I had romanticized over. I just felt tired, and drugged, and sad. Sad, because I didn’t feel an immediate connection to this little alien creature. And I wondered – would it come?
Somehow, through that first month, we found each other. And I discovered that I could not bear to be away from him for a second. I couldn’t take the advice to let people help you, to take a break, go take a nap – I was so worried something would happen to him. Breastfeeding was a living nightmare, but I wasn’t giving up. I remember the first night I gave him a bottle of formula, crying in shame and horror and plain old disappointment in myself – but the baby was hungry and I didn’t know what else to do. It felt like the end of the world.
And that, I think, is the biggest lesson Eli has taught me this year – very few things are, indeed, the end of the world.
Babies have tenacity. They want to move forward. A bottle of formula. A diaper fasted incorrectly. A swaddling blanket forgotten; none of those things scar anyone for life. The fact of the matter is, it’s love that keeps our babies growing, strong, and thriving in those first few moments. Pure love. Love that no one besides that baby’s mother can feel and give, because no matter how the baby came out – naturally, medicated, caesarean; a mother’s love is supernatural and is just as full of vital nutrients as the milk provided.
And what’s truly amazing to me, is that this HUGE amount of love, effort, time, sleeplessness that motherhood has required me to spend, hasn’t seemed to actually get spent. It seems the more I give to this baby, the more I have to give. The more love I have for my husband, the motivation I have to make sure both he AND my baby, my family, are safe, eating healthy, rested, happy. I’ve never been so tired in my life, yet never had so much energy and inspiration for the future. I’m creating again, dreaming, and living those dreams. I’m about to build something that I can be proud of, that will let me help other mothers learn what I have learned. It’s not a small thing. And for all of this, I owe my little monster a debt of gratitude.
This year has been something else.
I lost a dear friend.
I became a mother.
I went back to school.
I found my purpose.
And I’m so grateful for all of it.
So, happy first birthday to my first-born. I forgive you for completely eclipsing my birthday from now and into the foreseeable future.
You’re worth it.