This time my extended absence is wholly justified… You see, at the end of January, my husband and I brought a new baby girl into the world. The last 6 weeks have been both a massive blur and the first time in my life, since childhood, where I have truly lived every moment.
Having a baby is incredible. I’m not sure I heard that much from people going in, quite the contrary actually. More than anything, we were given multiple warnings about how our lives would change: we’d never be able to go out again, we would lose our sense of spontaneity, I might all of a sudden be obese (this was a very real fear), we might never sleep again, I might come down with depression, my husband and I might divorce, in short- life with a baby was made out to be pretty terrible. On account of that, I spent the final weeks leading up to her arrival in a state of mild panic. One night, I cried, convinced that I might not have a motherly instinct after all, and what if I didn’t love her like she deserved to be loved? I wasn’t cut out for this- no, no, take me back please.
Then one Monday in January at 6 am we made our way to Mount Sinai for her scheduled delivery. I cried through multiple attempts to get the IV in, I cried when I had to leave my husband and make my way into the OR alone for what amounted to a 15 minute separation from him, I shook in terror on the surgical table wondering what on earth would happen. And then, between the talk of planned vacations and light hearted medical directives, they called the time, “8:40 a.m.” and I knew she had been born. And then I heard her cry. And it was the most unbelievable, utterly magical, insane moment of my entire life. The carried her past me and I thought surely I had gone to heaven- her perfect complexion, framed with a full head of dark brown fluff, her piercing blue eyes, her tiny little frame. My husband was beside himself. For the umpteenth time that morning, I erupted in tears.
It is difficult to describe how the experience has been, but I will try. People say it is a love that you didn’t know you had, and that is 100% accurate. It is an addictive type of love, a heretofore unattainable high. When they put her little body on my chest in the recovery room, I was beside myself. She was in there, this whole time? This angel’s spirit made tangible in the flesh. I guess I knew that there had been a physical being in there- there were kicks and turns that I felt, and sometimes saw, occur. But it was wholly impossible to link those movements to this little being in reality- it all felt like an illusion. It is an active type of love, one that impels you to do things you never believed possible- including yes, rising out of bed at ungodly hours to attend to her. But it is also one that forces, in that instant, a new hierarchy of the important things in life- one that places her so far above anything else that I previously cared about so as to render the rest near obsolete. We had only been in the hospital for a day or so before I was asking my husband if he was keen on having another.
I don’t know where the days go. We are fortunate enough to have full time help; and yet, I can’t tear myself away from her. She is the most poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of time; I see it in every ounce she gains and every changing facial expression she makes. And suddenly, tearing away for this dinner or that somewhere seems like an utter waste of time. I know I will feel differently as time goes on, and that this is largely the effect of some evolutionary instinct that would impel even the most scatter brained human to take care of her offspring- but nonetheless- I have wholly welcomed the change of pace. For someone who always had to have a full calendar- a trip always on the horizon and some perfect hotel chosen to stay in in that picture perfect locale, it is a wonder of the largest order that some of my greatest joys can be found in the most mundane moments at home.
I’d be remiss not to mention what it means to create one’s own family. Again, this is surely nothing new to anyone who has had children before- but it was and is a revelation to me. When I married M, I knew of course that he would be the father of my children. But I didn’t know how tremendously he would rise to the occasion. I have found in this experience a new well of love for him too, that I didn’t know had been there. The long and short of it is that over the course of a marriage you are able to see so many different sides of a person, and this one of M’s has been so defining of the strength of his character. It’s brought me so much joy. Now, more than ever, I realize how grateful I am to have found him. And how lucky our daughter is too- to have a father like I have in mine.
In some ways, having finally experienced all of this- I find myself wishing I had known it all sooner. If only I’d known how much I’d enjoy marriage, and parenthood, perhaps I would have embarked on it sooner. Or perhaps, it was the prolonged and exciting (sometimes tortuous) journey there that has made the destination all the sweeter. How is one to know why life unfolds the way it does. What I do feel now is that I have tapped into my reason for existence in a very real way. I was telling a good friend the other day that motherhood is one of the rare roles in my life that rewards tenderness. My desire to achieve career wise had made made me such a hardened person, and I hadn’t even realized that until I took an extended absence from the daily battle. That lesson has been eye opening- how can I go back, knowing what I know now of the person I actually am, and reconcile it with the person I was? Luckily, I won’t have that decision forced on me for yet a while. But it has been on my mind all the same.
Until then, I plan to return here more often, having thus emerged from the 6 week fog. Hello world. Is it me you’re looking for?