Guess what. Things are settling down in my world which leaves more time and energy for the thinking which leads to the blogging. I don’t have much time to write this morning but I did want to share something I already wrote. I prepared this piece for a little bloggy thing called Listen to Your Mother and I even had my friend, Jillian, proofread it for me. That’s how you can tell I was serious about it. But after I submitted it, they sent me back an email wanting a headshot (yeah, like I have that), a resume and for me to come do a live audition.
I got tired thinking about it. And judging by these requirements, heaven only knows what manner of practices and dress rehearsals and voice warm-ups and what not I would be expected to participate in. So, I decided to put it on ice. But then I remembered how much y’all just love to savor every word I write so it seemed selfish to keep it all to myself. Just joking.
I wrote this before I was pregnant. Imagine it read aloud, monologue-style (heck, go ahead and read it out loud if you want, ya weirdo). I hope you like it.
I Was Made For This
I’m overly confident. Sometimes I’m even arrogant. Anything I want to do, I just assume I can do. I don’t know whom to blame this disease of my character on, I just feel certain it’s not my fault. It’s likely something I contracted in early childhood before I can even remember. Maybe it’s genetic. But no matter how I got it, I am happy to report, I have found the cure. Yes, friends, I now know how to fix over-confidence. Just become a mother.
Nothing has ever rocked my sense of competency or driven me to Jesus like having a baby. I never questioned my choices, my emotions or my ability to just keep staying alive until I had another person to keep alive. Everyone knows having a baby changes your life. But I knew it in a clichéd type of way. “Becoming a parent will change your life.” Blah, blah, blah. “Of course it does,” I would think. You used not to have a child and now you do. Yes, that will make things different. But I had no idea what I was getting into.
I always knew I would be a mother and with my own mom as an example, I assumed I would excel at it. To encourage my belief that I was made for motherhood and would probably be nominated for numerous awards on the matter, I got pregnant as soon as we started trying and experienced a complication-free pregnancy. I never even had morning sickness. Clearly, I was made for this. This was my thing.
The first clue that I might not be in control of every little detail was when my water broke but my body did not go into labor. This was a pretty unnerving reality check for me because, of course, I had planned a natural delivery. Well. After a day of walking up and down stairs, hot showers and nipple stimulation not one contraction had appeared. Eventually I gave in and with the help of Pitocin and an epidural, I delivered a baby boy. But not without a dramatic exclamation about what a failure I was.
See- it had begun. But, my spirit wasn’t broken that easily and when nursing happened naturally, it puffed me back up and reassured me that, yes, this was my thing. I mean, I hadn’t even needed stitches. I clung to that reminder of how I was designed to be good at this.
Then the hormones crashed. And the sleep deprivation set in. And even without those two factors, the overwhelming amount of change and the impossibility of how much I loved this little person who seemed to be trying to kill me was bound to get me. I can’t imagine the devil being any happier about the way I felt in those first months of motherhood.
I experienced every emotion there is, including ones I’d never felt before. I’ve always been an emotionally-stable person. But suddenly, I would walk past a mirror and burst into tears at the sight of myself. One night my husband let me sleep for a few hours in a row but when I got up to start my shift and realized he had left the pumped breast milk out to ruin, I envisioned myself ripping off the kitchen cabinet doors and breaking every window in the house with them. I was now terrified that this man who inspired such rage with an innocent act of forgetfulness would be killed in a car accident and leave me alone to raise this child. Now taking a shower was a risky activity in which I might slip and hit my head, leaving the baby crying in his crib until his dad got home that evening. I fantasized about sneaking out of the house and going to sleep in my car. Not previously a worrier, I now expected that I would give my child autism or SIDS with one wrong move.
When I took Jack in for his four month check-up, I was so exhausted that I didn’t feel human. I remember answering the doctor’s questions and doing everything I could with my eyes to convey to him that I was in over my head. I was silently pleading with him to notice my distress and tell me what to do about it. He didn’t.
Eventually, I called my own doctor and begged the nurse to finagle me a prescription for post-partum depression without making me come in. The office was a forty-five minute drive and I wasn’t so sure they wouldn’t commit me upon arrival if Jack happened to scream the whole way there. The medicine made a world of difference. I weaned myself off it after a few months with no ill –effects. I want other new moms who are suffering to hear this statement: You are not alone and GET THE DRUGS.
Now that my son is a year-and-a-half old, we’ve decided to try to get pregnant again. I’m feeling confident again. I keep reminding myself to be afraid but it’s not working. I keep trying to make sense of how I can know, know, know that I will likely feel awful for a few months, I will not sleep and my stress level will be off the charts yet still have such a longing for another child. It doesn’t make sense, I guess.
And this is motherhood. It doesn’t make sense. It’s beautiful and terrifying. As the saying goes, having a child is life-changing. And, clearly, I was made for this.