A year ago today, I took a home pregnancy test and found out that Daniel and I were well on our way to becoming parents. From that moment, my life changed. I remember watching as the line rapidly formed in the window. I stood up and my heart was beating fast. I was overwhelmed with joy, with this huge sense of pride and accomplishment. I remember washing my hands slowly and looking in the mirror. I was beaming. I was going to be a mom. Already, I was a mom!
Getting to share that moment with Daniel: when I rushed into our bedroom and jumped on the bed as he tried to catch his last couple hours of sleep in peace was (and I think always will be) one of the most exciting moments in our marriage.
And I think that's what I've learned in the past year. Being a mom-to-be, a mom, a parent is a series of highs and lows, of pride and embarrassment, or accomplishments and even failures. It's rolling with the punches, the setbacks, the sleepless nights and going forward. Laughing. Crying. Learning. Growing.
When we started our "Journey" trying to conceive and then when we told our friends, family and the world we were expecting we heard different variances of similar things. The one that always stood out to me was "You're going to be such a great mom (parents)." I remember Daniel driving us to Chipotle when I was pregnant and I asked him how everyone knew this to be true. He told me he thought they genuinely believed it and that they wanted to make us feel good. But I wanted to know how they knew. Was it because we are generally happy people? Was it because they just wanted us to be? I remember having a fear that we'd finally made a baby and I was going to screw things up somehow. I was going to disappoint our friends and family, Daniel, or worst of all, our little girl. Daniel said something to put my mind at ease and I pretty much relaxed from that moment on. I was meant to have this baby. I had wanted this for so long, had the perfect partner for me to be a parent with and we were going to do great. I was going to be "Super Mom".
Things were not easy that first month or two... hell, they're still not easy. There were moments where I did not know what the hell I was doing. I remember reading in books that it takes time to fall in love with your child, but to trust your instincts and the love will come. The books were wrong. I fell in love with Zoe the very moment I saw her, when they held her up for me to see in the operating room. My heart ached with all the love I felt. Seeing Daniel with her only added to this love. But the instincts? I was unsure and scared. I felt like I was all thumbs when I held her. I couldn't seem to get her to latch without feeling like my nipples were in an iron vice. I couldn't tell what her cries meant. She had mild jaundice for almost a month and I felt like it was my fault because she wasn't getting enough to eat, because I was failing at breastfeeding. Everyone told me how huge she was, so I took that as I had somehow overfed her and made her fat. She had a temper. When she cried, her entire body turned bright red and this was magnified by the jaundice. I was sure she didn’t like me. I cried a lot. I apologized a lot. I'd imagined that I was going to be this amazing mom because I wanted to be, and instead it wasn't easy.
The hardest part of it all was I did not feel like I could share any of this with anyone except for Daniel. No one wants to hear that a new mom is sad! Who wants to hear about what a hard adjustment it is being a new parent and all the insecurities? And I felt guilty because what the hell? I wanted this so badly, got pregnant, had a healthy, beautiful daughter and I wasn’t brimming with happiness every single moment? I worried that if I talked about this with anyone but Daniel, they would think I was ungrateful and that maybe I didn’t deserve all my good fortune and Zoe. And then people would tell me how great I was with Zoe. My mother told me I was a better mom than she was. I felt like an imposter because a lot of the time I was just guessing. I’ve learned with Zoe that it’s all process of elimination. She’s crying? Offer her the boob (because we got the latching down now). Still crying? Burp her or change her, or both. STILL crying? Let her sit up. Change positions. Start all over again. Or, just hold her close, give her the binky and sing to her. Eventually, we find something that remedies the situation even if it’s only a brief reprieve.
What I do know is that I am the best mom for Zoe. I know when I look at her and she is looking at me that she is not judging me or waiting for me to fail. She is waiting for me to succeed, to make her smile and make everything better. It took me a few months to really believe that, but now I do. And when I have a moment of weakness and feel like I’m screwing up, maybe I’ll come back and read this to myself.
Happy Anniversary, Zoe. Finding out you were on the way changed your Daddy’s life and mine forever. Thank you for coming to us at just the right moment in our lives and thank you for everything you’ve already taught us. We love you.