My Journey To Motherhood: The Night It Hit Me - I'm A Mom
There are many lasting memories from the birth of our daughter. Memories that at almost four years later are so vivid I can still recall how her skin felt like suede, her cheeks like powder. The words of encouragement erupting into loud cheers from my birth team still echo in my mind as she finally came out on that last push. But there's one moment that really stands out as my, “I'm a mom” moment.
The night I had this slap-you-in-the-face realization was not during the 17+ hour labor where I paced the halls and folded into my husband's body with each painful contraction, or the 3 ½ hours of pushing (on my back) to finally get her out. It wasn't even necessarily the moment where she practically leapt out of my womb onto my stomach. I was squealing with delight, “My baby, my baby!” over and over as I held her in my arms - the nurses feverishly rubbing and massaging her red, squishy body. Just then our eyes met and she reached up and touched my face with her tiny fingers. For the longest time she was looking into my eyes and crying, touching my chin, lips and cheek as if to say, “It's you! It's really you! You're my mommy!” I'm so thankful to my nurse for capturing all of those special moments on camera because otherwise no one would believe us. If I saw that in a movie I'd think, “That would never happen!” But it did.
Even that moment, as surreal as it was, isn't the thing that's etched into my brain as “The moment.” Our two day hospital stay felt like a vacation. The friendly postpartum nurses cared for us like family. They offered much needed help with breastfeeding, armed us with expert swaddling techniques to transform our bundle of joy into a blissful baby burrito, and provided me with cooling gel pads for my already sore nipples. Mercifully, they encouraged us to sleep. Before our daughter's tiny cries could resonate in our heads and wake us from an exhausted slumber, they swept in like angels and scooped her up to comfort her. They answered every last concerning question we had with patience and understanding.
Leaving the hospital was a bit of a reality check for us. “Can we do this alone? They're professionals and we're just first time parents, how can they just let us leave like that?” Driving home looking back at the once empty car seat that was now filled with a tiny baby we thought, “Now what?” Luckily, my mom extended her flight to stay another week. I was exhausted from the long labor and in so much pain from pushing for so long all I wanted to do was sleep. We swaddled her tight, I nursed her and we placed our sleeping baby in her cradle next to our bed. “Wow, she didn't even cry, this isn't so bad after all!” Those were the last words I uttered as my head hit the pillow assuming we'd all sleep until morning. (Two kids later, I find this hilarious.)
An hour later we were jolted out of bed as if a drill sergeant were standing there screaming commands at us while honking an air horn in our faces. “What's going on? Is there an emergency? Someone's baby is really loud!”
Then it hit us.
“That's our baby! Where's the nurse to scoop her up? Has she gotten louder?” This was a harsh reality made all the more jarring as we fumbled around the pitch black room trying to find this miniature siren (right next to us.) This nightly task quickly became second nature, but this first time was frantic, stressful, growing more and more urgent the longer she cried, and that's when I realized that I was the one she was crying for, I was the one who was responsible for nursing her, I was the one who could comfort her - so I scooped her up into my arms and thought, “wow, I'm actually a mom now and this is my baby,” and it felt good.