Early in March I asked all of you to participate in a survey about the blog and almost 200 of you took the time. Thank you so much for that! One of the questions was about how you would like me to tackle the new role of being a mom in blog land. An overwhelming amount of you requested info on what it’s like to go from not-a-mom to MOM! So the Mom Files will be tackling this journey. I’ve already talked about the early days of breast feeding because ouch. Today I’m backing up a step and talking about the emotional bits.
It has not yet been a month since I gave birth, but if you didn’t know I had made a human, strangers probably would never be able to tell from just looking at me. This is a huge change from how it felt to be pregnant. On Monday I picked up some more swaddling blankets and it occurred to me that the people at the registry thought I was buying them for a baby shower. I had no baby with me, so… it wasn’t completely clear. The shift from anyone and everyone knowing I am about to be a mom, when I didn’t necessarily FEEL like a mom to no one particularly knowing I’m a mom but me feeling like a mom 24/7 is… strange.
When I pushed Gabe’s head out of me and then the doctor pulled the rest of him out it was amazing and I cried. But when they handed him over to me and I called his name and he looked at me, I didn’t feel the way I expected to feel. I felt unsure. I felt like I didn’t know who that little baby was. I knew I was supposed to love him immediately, but that’s not what I felt. I felt like, “Ok, here we go. This is it.” I felt (and I still feel) an overwhelming amount of responsibility. It is my job to keep that baby alive, to protect that baby, to make sure he is fed and is not distressed. I would do anything for that baby, I would throw myself in front of a bus without a second thought for that baby. I did not particularly love him, though. And I felt a lot of pressure (self-imposed, expectation-imposed) to be overwhelmed with love and connection like I saw Kamel was, like I thought I was supposed to feel… but I didn’t.
Now then, this is not to say that I experienced postpartum depression or even baby blues. I didn’t feel distressed or upset or anxious about how I felt about the baby, or in general. I did have a moment of crying in the shower because of the immenseness of having a baby and being in charge of a human life the first or second day we had Gabe home, but that was a holy-shit moment and not lasting.
Love for Gabe grew over the first few weeks and is still growing. I look at him now and I see my son. I marvel at how funny he is, how expressive, how much he changes week to week. I see him and I see a huge connection between Kamel and I and that makes me happy.
Being a mom right now feels exhausting. It has a bit to do with the interrupted sleep, but it is more about the mental energy spent on constantly taking care of another person. Everything is about that little man. Going to the store is a big production of diapers and wipes and changes of clothes and then when we get there I spend the whole time hoping he doesn’t cry, and if he cries I’m searching out a place to change him or rocking the stroller to soothe him. I know it won’t always be so hands on – I mean, eventually he’ll be able to sit at a table or tell me with words what he needs – so as much as certain things are overwhelming and as tired as Kamel and I both are, I know that newborn land is a short period of time.
But being a mom? Is an always thing. Even from the beginning when I thought, “who is this little demanding boy?” I was Mom. Capital M included. The idea of a night off doesn’t exist at this point. Even if I am not with him I am thinking of him. I also know that that will ease with time. I mean, my thoughts alone can’t possibly keep him alive, right? Try telling me that.
Do I like it? I don’t think I can qualify it like that… it’s bigger than like or dislike, hard or easy. It is the most important thing I will ever do. It is not the only thing I will ever do, but if I fuck this up I fuck up a person… and that doesn’t really work for me. Do I feel like a mom? Every second of every day. We will see where this road takes me.