CaseyLand: An Essay on Motherhood

Friday, May 6, 2016

An Essay on Motherhood

Sometimes when I'm having trouble falling asleep I re-live the day Nathan was born. I start with the first contraction, and I usually fall asleep somewhere around the time that I'm getting my epidural. Which is fair, because that's when I started sleeping through my labor. If I'm lucky, I get to the part where he was born. My only thought being, "He's real!"

That first night in the hospital, the nurses volunteered to push Nathan's little bassinet around the hallways so Alex and I could get some sleep. I said yes, feeling grateful and relieved, but when I woke up later I was in tears over sending my baby away. A baby cried in the hallway and I sat straight up in bed, panicked that it was him. That he needed me. That he was confused and scared about being thrust into this life and then separated from me. I wanted him back. How could I have sent my tiny helpless baby off with someone I barely knew? I felt sick. I thought about waking Alex up, while trying to reconcile with myself that if my baby needed me they would bring him to me.  That was the first time I really felt that all encompassing love people talk about. The whole day had been so overwhelming, it didn't hit me until right then, at 3 a.m. the next morning.

I don't really know how to do this mom thing. I don't feel too bad about that, because I haven't met a mom who does. It's hard being a mom during this social media era - everyone has an opinion and it's very easy to share. People go to Facebook and google to get their answers, always stressing, always worrying, "Is this normal??"

For the first three, almost four months of his life, my baby would only sleep on top of me. Curled in a little ball, his face an inspired and peaceful work of art. His chest moving up and down, his fingers resting on my arm, his little legs crossed one over the other. Alex and I noticed other babies Nathan's age, quite content to sleep anywhere, and we looked at each other with raised eyebrows. My dad held Nathan during my sister's wedding luncheon because he refused to be left by himself, strapped safely into his car seat on the floor.

Is this normal?

He has always wanted to sit up straight and tall. Since the minute he had the option, a reclined position was less than desirable. To be able to see the world, take in the other people and objects, turn to glance at me for a reassuring smile that this is good. This is life. This is safe. This is...

Normal.

We ask if it's normal and then we reassure each other with the words, "Every baby is different."

If every baby is different, is there really anything normal? And if that's the case, it brings to light the fact that we're just doing this whole mother thing by the seat of our pants. Each time, a new experience, a new person, a new "normal". As they say, the only constant is change. The only normal is difference.

Nathan has been sick a few times, and each time I try to gauge how I feel about it. Am I overly concerned? Am I not concerned enough? I usually end up calling the doctor, speaking tentatively into the phone, "My baby has a small cough...been going on for a few days... wasn't sure if I should bring him in or not..." He's always just fine. Tall for his age. Solid, not chubby. I pointed that out to the doctor and he laughed, saying, "Yes, it's like he has the body of a three year old, but he's a little baby!"

Is that normal?

It's my normal.



old pictures from Christmas... look at my three month old!! I thought he was so big back then. :)

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