The beginnings of motherhood
I had the pleasure of having dinner with one of […]
I had the pleasure of having dinner with one of my best girlfriends this week while Matthew stayed home with Graham. It was nice for a change to get away to a restaurant and just girl talk without having to breastfeed or change a diaper. My girlfriend happens to be 37 weeks pregnant and at that stage where she is “so ready!” As we talked about how she’s feeling right now, I couldn’t help but re-live all of those emotions with her since I was in her shoes just a few months ago.
I remember feeling miserable: swollen legs and feet, achy back, occasional stabbing pains down below, constant fatigue, heartburn, feeling as big as a whale—just to name a few complaints. As she talked about how her baby couldn’t get here soon enough, I remember how those last few weeks felt like an eternity. We also talked about all the uncertainties of delivery, and I empathized with the feeling of wishing someone could tell me how it was going to feel.
No one can truly prepare you for labor, delivery, or what it’s like to bring your new baby home for the first time. My birth experience was nothing at all like I’d expected; having a C-section after a failed induction related to a sudden drop in amniotic fluid was not what I had pictured. Being at home with our brand-new baby was not how I expected it to be either. The “fourth trimester” was a challenge to say the least.
The first few weeks at home with Graham were tough. As someone with pretty much no experience with newborns, it was frustrating and heartbreaking trying to figure out why he was crying and how to soothe him. It was a whirlwind of sleepless nights and days, seemingly endless breastfeeding, diaper changes and crying (baby Graham—and Mama pretty often too!). I was so in love with my new baby, but so bone-tired at the same time. I remember genuinely worrying that I would never sleep more than two hours in a row ever again. The shattering exhaustion that I felt was unlike anything I had ever experienced.
I remember worrying that things would never be better, that I would never get the hang of things and that Graham would never be “easy.” But it did get better—SO much better. And Graham did become much more easygoing. I remember around the 7- to 8-week mark, Matthew and I started noticing some big changes. Graham suddenly was OK with being put down for a few minutes at a time. He started crying a little less often. Breastfeeding became easier and more enjoyable for the both of us. He started sleeping for longer spurts (and so did I!). And best of all, Graham started smiling at us. Seeing Graham smile was like seeing the sun come out after weeks of darkness. All of the exhaustion, the tears, the frustrations—everything melted away with that little toothless grin. After giving everything you have to this crying little person for so many weeks, seeing this first gesture of love, a happy little smile, is so very rewarding and heartwarming.
Just as no one can prepare you for labor, delivery, and sleepless nights with a newborn, no one can prepare you for the way your heart will explode with love for your new baby. I knew I loved Graham when he was in my belly. And I loved him even more when I first laid eyes on him. And every day since then, I think my heart has at least quadrupled in size.
Now that we’re almost four months into parenthood, things are SO fun! If you had told me that when I had a 4-week-old, I would have had trouble believing you. I can’t describe how much joy we have in our lives now with our sweet baby boy who grins and giggles and coos and sleeps for four to six hours in a row every night. The first few weeks were a steep learning curve, and it wasn’t easy. But things are just getting better and better as time goes on. It is an absolutely amazing gift I’ve been given to be Graham’s mama, and I’m enjoying motherhood more and more every day.