How could I possibly love more? That was one of my first thoughts when I found out I was pregnant this past summer. I heard about the unconditional love parents have for their children (and I’ve seen it through my parents’ eyes) but I was never able to get a clear answer to what that love actually feels like, let alone wrap my mind around it.
Our 'thumbs-up' baby - ultrasound tech even had to type it on the picture
Sort of like when I was a single gal asking every married couple, “How did you really know your better half was The One? You had to know somehow, right?”
I never received more than, “You just know.”
Kind of a lame answer if you ask me. But when Mr. Right walked into my life, I understood what that meant. You really do just know.
For the past 30 weeks I’ve been journaling on my personal blog about all the emotions and feelings going through my mind. Will I be a good enough parent? Am I supposed to feel this crappy? How the heck will I know what to do? What was I thinking? What’s a Boppy? For real - there are classes out there on car seat safety? Wait…what…how many diapers will I be changing? Omigod, how will I survive on only two hours of sleep and still be a nice person? How much more weight am I going to gain!?
Maybe I should’ve thought about the answers to all these questions beforehand in more depth, but the thing is I don’t always think that way – where’s the fun in that? Instead I gave myself plenty of time to get to know me and explore the world and fall in love...and dream. My husband and I wanted to enjoy being married, just the two of us and then we’d start to think about becoming parents. As we inched closer to our mid-thirties, we knew what our next step was and agreed kids were something we both wanted to experience, but were still deathly scared of the change parenthood would bring.
Right now we have the freedom to come and go. Travel. Go on dates whenever we want. Sleep in or stay up. Put in more hours at work. Watch all our favorite television shows. In short, we get to be selfish, which is pretty awesome in my eyes and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Thirty two years of my life I’ve had the luxury of putting myself first and have had no regrets.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments where I’m excited beyond words to meet our little miracle. I’m already planning fun hiking adventures and picnics and trips to the Science Museum and afternoons of teaching my child to play catch and pass a volleyball. My husband thinks I’m nuts.
But with anything new and unfamiliar there is always doubt, second guessing and the “what ifs” lingering.
This is when I decided to go searching for advice, which I quickly learned is dangerous grounds for first-time parents. Beware. There are those who love to step in and scare the wits out of you—the ones who have been in the parenthood club for some time and can’t wait for you to get a taste of where they’ve been; projectile puke, explosive diarrhea and all. I’ve heard everything from your life is over to your hips are physically going to morph into a new body your skinny jeans won’t even recognize to you might as well say goodbye to yourself now because you won’t be in touch with her for the next 18 years. Not to mention, your marriage and your relationship is about to change big time. Buh-bye romance.
So for the last few weeks during my fifth or sixth trip to the bathroom in the midnight hours I’ve found myself worrying, tossing and turning, wondering how I’m going to be able to survive the next 18 years of my life if so many people have so many negative things to say about parenthood. How will I be able to do it and not lose myself or my sanity along the way? Will I really love this new person as much or even more than my husband…even more than me??? Will I want to make all these sacrifices? How is that even possible?
I can see why the baby takes nine months to develop; maybe it’s more the mother who needs the time to mentally prepare. I know I sure do.
That was until I saw our 3-D ultrasound. My in-laws are pretty awesome and surprised us on Christmas with a gift card to get an up-close and personal ultrasound at 29 weeks. I enjoyed the regular ultrasound at nine weeks and then again at 20 weeks and figured the 3D one would be pretty similar. But something was different, something happened to me this time around. I felt a powerful emotion come alive inside me. But only for a few seconds.
As I was lying on the table and our baby’s face (all round and chubby) stared back at us—and promptly threw us a thumbs up—I tossed my head back and laughed. That was so our baby, I thought, a perfect combination of both of us. Then a rush of something came over me. I paused shifting my eyes to my husband and then back to the ultrasound technician. Did they feel that? Did the room get warmer? Were their hearts beating a little faster? But they were focused on admiring the baby’s feet and toes.
The feeling was almost territorial. That baby on the screen was mine and nothing anyone said or did could take that away from me. We created that. This was going to be ours. And, jeez, I was pretty proud of that. We would be the ones to fill him or her up with love and that was really all I needed to do, everything else would fall into place. The feeling scared me because it was so real, so strong, yet…so simple. And then this amazing calm washed over me as if I had nothing to worry about. As if all those horror stories and worries I had brewing inside me was not even a thought. It was if someone or something filled me up to the brim and breathed life into me that I never knew existed. And I knew I’d have more than enough love to go around. No question.
But as fast as it came, it left. Like a strong breeze on a tired summer day.
It left me incredibly hopeful and eager for more, hungry to feel that again. And I knew I would…soon, and I have a feeling it won’t ever go away. Maybe I was simply supposed to get a little taste to calm my fears, to let me know I’m going to be just fine, and to remember what it’s all about…that this is my story, my little family’s story, and it’s all what we make of it, projectile puke and all.
What did it feel like when you first met your baby?