No Better Mother

I think Owen was four months in this picture. "Normal" was nowhere in sight. But I was madly in love with him anyway.

I was reeling for months after my first child was born.  I could not believe what was happening.  Everything was surreal, I felt like I had stepped into a life that was meant for somebody else.

Somebody more organized, rational, patient, sane.

I went through the motions and acted like I was okay.  Like life was just as it should be.  But I knew it was not.

I knew that this was a horrible mistake.  That I was wrong to think I could care for a baby, and raise a human to be good and honorable and sane.

I knew that life was never going to be the same.  I was going to be tied to this tiny little creature forever, and there was no turning back.  I feared that I would never feel normal again, I would never have my life back.

This baby needed me all of the time.  He nursed incessantly, cried when he was not being held, and slept like a baby as long as he was in the arms of myself or my husband.

In a few short moments my life had drastically changed.  I had no idea what I was doing, and I was not prepared.

I was not ready for the lack of sleep and how it would affect my body, or for how lonely I would feel in the middle of the night while I was awake and only with Owen.

I did not know how important the comfort of another human would become to me, and that not knowing how to achieve it would devastate me.

I had tunnel vision when it came to my son, and all I could see was what he needed.

The periods of caring for Owen and getting him into a restful state were so intense that they consumed every part of me.  This made the moments when he was sleeping contentedly on my husband the most difficult because I did not know what to do with myself when my baby did not need me.

I often found myself standing in the middle of the kitchen, hair strewn all over, wearing breastmilk stained pajamas that had been on for days and a blank stare.

I was shell shocked.

It is so strange to me, I look like myself. But I was not. Not at all.

And here I am four and a half years later, and I made it.  Of course I made it.  We all do.

And looking back now I do not feel that my mental state during that time was inappropriate or silly or dramatic, I honor it.  I gained great strength from knowing that I pulled it together, and stuck it out, and made lots of good choices.  And I developed a stronger sense of confidence and purpose than I had ever known.

And I accepted that the “normal” I thought I was longing for would never come back.  Ever.

I traded it in for a level of joy, completeness and gratitude that I never imagined possible.

Because with Owen’s birth, everything seemed bigger, more hopeful, brighter and chock full of possibility.  I wondered what I did before this gorgeous little being joined our family, and how I ever felt happiness without him around.

Those first weeks and months with my first baby were the  most difficult of my life, but every moment was just as it needed to be. I know with every bit of myself that no matter how long the days are, and how many mistakes I have made, this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

And that ultimately there is no better mother that could have been given to my children, than me.

An unfair trade: I gave up "normal" for these two. Whoever got my normal, lost big time.


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