When I was pregnant with my first child I had so many expectations. I spent several hours reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, the book that most mothers who see those two pink lines for the first time, consider the pregnancy Bible. I eagerly anticipated the emails that entered my inbox every week, comparing my baby to another piece of produce (kiwi anyone?). I lay in bed at night as he or she tumbled in my belly and I pondered who they would resemble the most once I finally had the opportunity to meet the baby inside.
During birthing classes I fostered expectations of the perfect birth, pain-free and quick. I paid no attention to the c-section video they showed us. That was not for me. I expected things to go smoothly from day one and for me to bond with him or her immediately and for me to feel like there was no one else in the world but the two of us, once my baby was out into the big, big world.
I expected to be able to nurse him or her right away and easily. I expected to fall in love with them from the get-go and to want to hold my precious bundle always and to never want to leave them. Ever.
As you might expect, many of MY expectations were met with resistance.
When I finally met my baby he didn’t look like me or anyone else I knew. I did not get to hold him right away because he was not breathing right at first and the nurses had to help him to start. The birth was nothing short of traumatic for both him and me and even though I did not have a c-section, because I resisted the suggestion of one, it was not ideal in any way.
Once we came home things got worse. I felt no bond with him and breastfeeding was a complete failure. I cried a lot and was in pain and couldn’t really even think straight. I had wanted this baby so badly and my pregnancy was a breeze but everything was different now, especially me.
New Motherhood didn’t just throw me for a loop – it threw me for triple loop-de-loop and I wanted off the roller coaster. Fast.
All I could think about was starting over, rewinding, going back to the first part of the song, to make it sound sweeter. That was of course, if I could sing. Which at that time, I could not.
At my six-week postpartum check-up Tim and my doctor spoke right in front of me as I sat there in a haze, and decided some anti-depressants were in order. I took them willingly, hoping things would get better. I completely gave up the idea of breastfeeding because the anxiety I felt over it was not good for me or my baby.
It was decided even before my son was born that I would return to work after 12 weeks, mostly for financial reasons. Tim and I looked around for an in-home daycare and found one that we liked and trusted.
On the first day I took him there, the same day I would return to work, I expected to be a complete mess. I even packed my makeup in my purse in case I needed to touch it up. I expected to want to check on him 10 or 15 times that day and the women who ran the daycare said she would understand if I felt the need to do just that. She was used to that kind of thing…
I expected to sob as I drove away. I even tried to make the tears come as my car carried me along the same roads it had so many times before.
But they did not… and I shed nary a tear.
I felt guilty but I also felt free. It is hard to admit that here but it is true.
I believe there were no tears that day, not because I did not care about my son, but quite the opposite. I feel it was because I knew at that time what was best for both of us.
Expectations are a funny thing because they can also work the opposite way. Things can happen when we least expect them to.
This has been proven many a time in my life since I became a mother, over a decade ago.
One thing I did not expect, especially after those first three trying months of mothering, was not only that I would eventually fall in love with my baby, but also the person that baby would become. We spend so much time anticipating the infant’s arrival that sometimes we forget the future and that those baby days are really so very short in the grand scheme of things.
My first “baby” is now 10 years old and a truly amazing boy. He makes me laugh so hard but sometimes he makes me really frustrated. He makes awesome fruit salad and likes to write like his mother. These days he is teaching me to let go and hold on all at the same time.
And I can tell you right now… I never expected any of it.
*My heart decided to write this just a few days before my first baby turns 10 and I am publishing it on the “eve, eve” of his 10th birthday…