My husband has left for a several-day work trip, and I am once again left to the devices of my 12-lb baby girl and whatever she decides to do tonight.
Thus far, she has decided to be fussy even though I’ve nursed her and burped her and coddled her for almost 90 minutes. I recall why, when my husband is home, I just pump extra all day and do bottles throughout the night. They’re quicker, easier…she chugs them and passes out, for the most part…I can add in gas drops, gripe water, some natural baby ZZZzzzzs potion…
But the breast, at night…UGH. She’s fussing and I’m trying anything. She finally calms down enough for 15 minutes, I can pump some hind-milk, stir in the usual “potions” and reposition myself in the nursery rocking chair for a second wave of defense against her sleeplessness, THIS time, with the trusty bottle. Along with her fussiness, I’m also battling the California heat and no central AC, the windows all open (trying my best)…the smell of pot smoke and the sound of the people up the hill partying wafts in through the window, and I curse them silently, since the world should definitely be revolving around me and my newborn and WHY ISN’T IT? And I want to yell, but I can’t with the baby…
I pop the bottle in her mouth, and we rock…back and forth, back and forth…
In the dark, using my right toe, I find a stuffed elephant on the floor that plays music. I press it’s tummy with my foot, and as the music starts, we continue to rock…back and forth….back and forth…
I am tired and frustrated, but then I recall a reflection I had not even two weeks ago on this time I have with my daughter as an infant. I realize this is one of those moments when I should call it to mind, believe it, and let it change the moment for me.
I look down at her. She glows just faintly pink in the light of the salt rock in the corner of the room.
Her tiny, pudgy fingers are wrapped around mine, wrapped around the bottle. I realize that in just a couple of months, she will never touch me as tenderly and hungrily as she does right now…or in those moments when I’m breastfeeding her and those tiny hands wrap around my breast as if it’s a kitten that could run away…grasping, holding…hungrily, needily, gratefully…
I hear the sound and sigh of her little swallow as she takes in the food I’ve made her. By some miracle. Food made to sustain and grow this little person by 9oz every week, by my own body. Despite the orange chicken and friend potatoes, donuts and Nutella…her she is, and on she grows. Amazing.
She needs me, and she can’t help it.
Crying is her only words. And as a person who talks and types all day, should I even question the couple of hours she maybe cries (talks) per day at most?
“Wahhh,” (mom I’m hungry)
“Wahhh,” (mom I’m tired)
“Wahhh,” (mom I’m hot)
“Wahhh,” (mom I’m dirty)
“Wahhh,” (mom I’m overstimulated)
“Wahhh,” (mom…I miss your touch)
One I should respect and soak in.
She doesn’t argue with me, she doesn’t yell at me, she doesn’t tell me I’m wrong or that I don’t get it…she doesn’t call me unfair or uncool, she doesn’t tell me to go away or that she hates me.
She says very simply, “I need this,” I give it to her, and when she STOPS crying, falls asleep or smiles, she says “THANK YOU.”
I should treasure this. This ask, give, and thank-you we have going now. For this won’t be forever.
We rock still…back and forth, back and forth…the bottle, almost gone.
I see my legs stretched out on the rocker ottoman. Dappled with cellulite, visible even in the dim light of the nursery. I would have dieted it away or circuit-trained this off by now if I was “old me.”
But “new me” is focused on making my new little person gain weight instead of making me lose it. “New me” stays up late making sure she’s fed, changed, peaceful and the right temperature, instead of late-night photo editing and design projects. “New me” is sitting in a nursery, alone with the one person it seems I manage to spend time with these days, with spit-up in my hair, no makeup on, wearing an outfit for the third time this week, breast pads askew and peeking out of a poorly positioned (and also dirty) tank top.
Because ages ago, I dreamed of when I would be a mom. I dreamed of when I would even love a man enough to make me a mom. Then I found him, married him… Had my fun and waited until we were ready… Then I prayed for her…BEGGED for her. And when she just faintly existed in my womb, I LOVED her and WAITED for her. And when it was time, I WORKED and LABORED for her.
I sacrifice. Every day. I am EVERYTHING for her.
Am I not blessed beyond measure to have everything I have asked for??
This is the abandonment of “self.”
It is the complete understanding and acceptance of a purpose greater than all of one’s preconceived purposes.
It is realizing that you are not what “they” say is great…you will not be in a hall of fame, or on a silver screen, or touted in any other sort of accolades…
You are GREAT, period.
And the peace and joy in motherhood comes with accepting that even if your child is the ONLY person who ever thinks so…that’s okay. And even if your child never thinks so, YOU know.
YOU know the love, the sacrifice, the ABANDONMENT OF SELF that came with giving this whole new person life. A great life.
And don’t you ever let yourself forget that.
Abandon the “self,” BUT…
smile every day knowing you have surmounted the greatest of feats, are climbing the tallest of mountains, and are contributing the most miraculous of miracles to be nurturing a new life into a person that will impact the world in some way.
And in this, FIND yourself. Be exuberantly joyous about what you’re doing, this thing that ONLY you can do.
Then look into your child’s face, and you’ll find yourself, your true self,