I have been sitting here in the dark, quiet room, listening to the sound machine sounds on the other side of the wall where my baby, ummmm....toddler 🥴, is sleeping. I’m partially anticipating for him to wake up soon, so I can nurse him back to sleep at almost 22 months. That is our norm and while it may seem bothersome to some, I enjoy our ritual. Yes, we still nurse, including at night. I don’t mind. It’s become a sweet way for us to connect when the rest of the world is still. He only nurses for minutes at a time as a way to just make sure I’m right there next to him. So that’s what I want to talk to you about....being close to my baby!
When I was pregnant 2+ years ago, I imagined getting to a very large-and-in-charge stage of my pregnancy at 40+ weeks. And every time someone heard that my due date was at the end of September, they lamented on how I was going to manage the Georgia heat while pregnant and I just shrugged it off. And then the wildest thing happened!
My water broke at 30+5 weeks of pregnancy in the second half of July. That was a game changer! I didn’t have my baby immediately; it was just over 72 hours when I finally had my baby. And it was nothing like I had imagined it. I had planned a homebirth, but I birth him in the hospital. I was going to take my time snuggling him Skin-to-Skin for hours, but he had to be whisked away and attended to by NICU staff, and it was several hours later before I first held him against my skin. I did get to hold him shortly after birth, but he was swaddled already to keep him warm before transferring him to the Special Care Nursery. He was so little at 3 lbs 15 oz that when I first held him in the NICU, he fit on my chest between my breasts. Although, I wasn’t actually allowed to nurse him quite yet because his suck-swallow-breathe reflex wasn’t fully integrated. I remember this overwhelming sense of love, fear, and disbelief that came over me. I never held a baby that small, but I knew exactly how to handle him, even with all the wires. Pete was a bit more hesitant the first couple of days.
Over the next 4 weeks, I was on the very epitome of a roller coaster of emotions, hormones, and physical changes. My body didn’t change very dramatically during pregnancy because I hadn’t even entered that stage where you gain a lot of weight because I barely entered the third trimester. My hormones were ebbing and flowing as they do in the early postpartum period. So one minute I was elated as I held my baby boy with all the 😍eyes, and the next minute I was leaving salty tracks of tears on his tiny body. I was also pumping around the clock to make sure he had my breast milk and plenty of it. And then the emotional toll all of this took on me, Pete, our family, work, and whatever else. We spent 2ish hours driving to the hospital for 26 days in a row. We cried off and on while snuggling our baby and then cried off and on leaving him at the hospital for 26 days. My anxiety was through the roof, so was Pete’s. Most showers I spent crying by myself because I was so tired of crying in front of others. I had become too familiar with fear and the constant hum of nervousness. I stopped having the volume on my phone turned up from a fear of bad news. What felt the worst were my empty arms. People would congratulate me on our baby, and he wasn’t there to show off.
But then the day came. We weren’t really well prepared, as we headed to the hospital for one of our daily visits, the nursery called us and told us that we could take him home with us if we wanted. Of course WE DID! The day finally came. And we drove home in rush hour traffic for over an hour to get home. He was so tiny. His shoulder straps almost touched the tops of his ears they were so high up on his side. That car seat looked humongous for our 5+ pound baby. We came home, excited, elated, and quite a bit terrified. But he was finally in my arms 24/7. And it felt like 24/7 for the first year and a half of his life. I was terrified to leave him because I couldn’t fathom having empty arms again. I wore him, snuggled him, nursed him, while working, eating, traveling, etc. He was my little shadow and I his.
Today as we snuggled, nursed, and I put him to sleep, I appreciate the notion of Mother’s Day in a different way than I ever had before. My Mom would always say growing up that everyday is Mother’s Day. And I now truly understand the meaning of that. Whether your baby is in your arms, in your heart, or in your dreams, you always hold them close because you are a Mama every day 24/7 and you are worthy of the celebration of motherhood.
Motherhood: nothing and no one prepares you for it. It is the most overwhelming, gut-wrenching, and joyous feeling that consumes all of you. You are forever changed and there’s nothing you can or want to do about that.
I would love to what your stories of motherhood. Feel free to share below.