August 8, 2010

What I Didn't Know

"I could not get my fill of looking.
There should be a song for women to sing at this momentum or a prayer to recite.
But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment. "

I wrote Amelia and Sky letters a few weeks ago. What I neglected to do was write one to myself. If present day me could have written to the formerly pregnant me, she would have given her some warnings about how life would change after the delivery room. It would go something like this...

Erika-
What changes possibly more than anything? Time. You will blog at 3:30 am. You'll eat Junior Mints at 2 am. You will discover The Black Keys at 4 am. You'll be on random adventures on the Internet for hours and quickly get bored with them. You'll see the sun come up every morning and hate it. You will wish for naps like you never have before.

The first time you cry and you know it's hormonal, it's from thinking about how your Grandma Smith, who died about 15 years ago, will never get to meet your daughter. Something about this drives you instantly to tears. After this, however, it seems as if anything is fair game to cry about. It's not that you walk around in a weepy daze, always sad about something. It's more like you're continuously three seconds away from it.

People exhaust you. Not Amelia, but everyone else. You find yourself on edge about little things, and it takes more and more patience every day just to be civil sometimes. You won't be alone at all the first week home, and you are both grateful and resentful of this. You crave a day to just be a family with Sky and Amelia, to lounge around in pajamas and watch TV, but it seems there is always someone to see or somewhere to go.

People also amaze you. You won't mind people saying she's beautiful- in fact, it's quite nice to hear. But you are already tired of having to say how old she is and that, yes, she is your first. You are in awe of people like the total stranger who stops you in the mall, and asks you a string of questions that include "breast or bottle?" You realize that if you thought people were a little rude during pregnancy, it will be five times worse now. You also want to tell people that it takes more than being mothers to have something in common, and when people share their labor stories you will feel lost and think you have much more in common with your kid-less friends than with the mom crowd. And you think people asking you if Amelia is a boy or a girl when she's wearing a little pink dress is the stupidest thing ever. Your constant hope is to make it through one store or one outing without having to talk.

You think about your body a lot, and worry about it a lot. You've again turned into another version of yourself, but this time you're unsure about what you see. The stretch marks you thought you had escaped sneak in during the last week of pregnancy, and you look at them in the mirror every day. You are annoyed with people who say they are battle scars, etc., and that you should be proud. Instead, you wonder if you'll wear a two piece again, and if Sky will be able to look past them and think you're attractive. You feel completely unattractive.

You will be stereotypical. You find yourself watching her chest rise and fall to make sure she is breathing. You go to the movies with Sky for an hour and a half matinee- you're walking up the theater steps when he said, "This feels so wrong", and you instantly agree and feel lost without your daughter. You have a good time at the show, but you always have her on the back of your mind and miss her, just like you couldn't completely focus on movies when Sky was away.

You'll love your daughter more than you knew you were capable. You adore every expression she makes and every sound. You take fifty thousand pictures of her every day, just like you knew you would. You can't document enough how perfect she is. You gaze at her in awe and wonder how someone as flawed as you are can give birth to someone so amazing. You wish everything good for her.

You become a mother quickly. The first time this sinks in is at the hospital. You hear a newborn crying in the hallway, and instantly know that it's Millie. She's brought into your room and you look at her knowing that there is some kind of magical bond you've never had before. Some things come naturally and some don't, but you somehow instinctively know enough to keep her usually happy, and warm and full. You are comforted by how she is comforted by you. You are terrified by how quickly the first week flies by, because you know it will only get faster and you will desperately miss how tiny and fragile she is now.

Labor was hard and childbirth was harder. Little things pile up into big things and you have, at times, felt in over your head- not because of the baby, but everything that comes with it like everything listed above. You had no idea what you were getting into that night you saw a little plus sign on the test. You realize that you are much weaker than you thought.

You are also much stronger than you could ever imagine.

3 kind comments from you:

Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...

This is great. You're so honest I love it.

Nicholereo333 said...

oh me, oh my, but oh so beautiful

Kat said...

this is so beautifully written!

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