3 Things Thursday: 3 Things that Surprised Me about Motherhood

Thursday, April 25, 2019


3 Things Thursday: the "rule of three" principle suggests that sets of threes are inherently more humorous and satisfying than any other number of things.  On Thursdays I feature random lists pertaining to anything and everything -- grouped in 3, of course.



3 THINGS THAT SURPRISED ME ABOUT MOTHERHOOD

(1) How quickly I would become an m-o-t-h-e-r mother

Do you have a childhood memory of your mom morphing into an actual rabid beast, triggered by some offense given toward you or your sibling?  My family, in particular, often recounts a memory of my mom, 9 months pregnant with me, threatening a young boy at my sister's school (I actually can't remember exactly what transgression he had committed against her -- broken her pencil? Poked her with a pencil?  Broken her pencil and then poked her with it?  It had something to do with a pencil, I know that much.)  We're all familiar with the 'mama bear' metaphor, but I had no idea that I would become a living, breathing 'mama bear' so quickly after birth.

Less than 24 hours after my son was born, we had a major scare that required him to be taken from my arms and rushed out the door of our hospital room for emergency scans and tests.  (To date, I have only shared this experience with a handful of people, and am not able to speak freely about it; I still have a lot of unprocessed trauma from this, so I would respectfully ask that the specifics remain unknown both in the virtual space and in person -- I will not discuss it.)  Up until that point of my brand new postpartum life, I had only moved with the utmost of care and caution.  Just walking to the bathroom required full-body support to the toilet and back again.  Sitting down took approximately 13 minutes and if the inflatable donut wasn't available, forget about it.  Even changing position in the bed was shockingly painful.  I couldn't fathom walking around like a normal human ever again, or at least for a few weeks.  So when my son was taken in a flash of panic and chaos, I sat helpless on the bed, stunned and motionless, until suddenly I wasn't.  I lasted about 10 seconds before throwing the blankets off the bed, swinging my legs over and onto the ground, and sprinting -- I mean sprinting -- down the hallway in search of my son.  I felt zero pain.

It took less than a minute to find him -- he was undergoing tests in a room while my husband stood overseeing from the window.  As I stood beside Joe and watched the tests being administered on my baby - my baby who had essentially not left my bare chest since I pushed him out - I felt a switch flip.  From that moment on, my instincts dominated.  I would gladly jump in front of a moving train, I would walk headfirst into a lion's den, I would wrestle an alligator without hesitation, I would happily take a bullet, I would do anything for my son.  I was a certified mother.




(2) How quickly I would start dreading my son's wedding day

Also while still in the hospital postpartum, I was holding my son, staring mesmerized at his face in shock and awe that this was who I had carried around for the past 42 weeks -- it was him the whole time.  I swear 90% of my postpartum stay in the hospital entailed me staring adoringly at his tiny, perfect face.

As I stared, Monica Gellar's voice played on loop in my head -- the scene in Season 10 where she tells her newborn son, "No woman is ever going to be good enough for you!"  The laugh track roars and the viewer thinks, "Oh, what a silly, crazy lady!"  Or so I had thought.

It suddenly dawned on me that maybe Monica was onto something; someday -- a day that would come sooner than I could fathom -- this baby would grow into a man who would choose independence over my care, who would choose a new love over the love that only his mother could provide him, who would pursue a life of his own outside the four walls of our home, within which I so desperately wanted to keep him safe forever and ever.

I thought of the popular children's rhyme that I would later decide to hang on the walls of our nursery: Hold him a little longer, rock him a little more, tell him another story - you've only told him four!  Let him sleep in your arms, rejoice in his happy smile.  He's only a little boy for such a little while.

He's only a little boy for such a little while.  I held him close, and wept.  And then I wept some more.



(3) How quickly I would want to do it again

We opted to stay a second night in the hospital (did anyone else do this? I just didn't want to go home, I was loving the whole experience so much!).  That means that when I walked in the door of our home upon my return from the hospital, our son was 3 days old.  That means I had pushed him out of my body 72 hours prior.  That means that I was still walking at the pace of a snail and sitting with the assistance of the inflatable donut.  And yet, when I saw the green couch on which I had labored, I started to cry.

I missed labor.

This makes absolutely no sense, especially because the pain of childbirth was still brutally fresh in my mind.

And yet.

I turned to my husband and said, "I want to be pregnant again."

I longed to feel the kicks, the movement, the life inside of me.  I wanted the natural-birth-high all over again (to some extent, I was still on it -- oxytocin for days and days, better than any manmade drug - hands down).

Of course, my husband thought I was insane, and laughed off my request to make our son an Irish twin.

But as I recall these memories -- the revelations that so surprised me in those earliest postpartum days -- what surprises me most now is how little I even knew then.  Just as I had no idea that the baby in my womb was the baby I would push out, how could I ever have guessed that that 3-day-old angel would grow into the most precious 2-year-old of all time?  I had zero knowledge of the unique personality that makes him him.  And I love thinking about - dreaming about - all that I still have yet to learn as he continues to grow into the person he will become.

I know it will go quickly.  I breathe him in every day and relish this time with him now -- the constantly-wanting-to-be-held, the cries for "mama!" 10 times per hour.  I haven't gone to the bathroom or showered alone since before he was born, for crying out loud.  What's not surprising, though, is how little I mind all of that.  Because, again, I know it will go quickly.  He's only a little boy for such a little while.

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