On December 7th, 2021, I became a mother.
If you’ve followed me along with my previous blog posts, you might have seen that my baby girl was a little too comfy in my belly to come out. She came 10 days later than her due date, with the help of an extremely painful induction.
The moment she was in my arms I expected this rush of love like I’d heard so many mums talk about. It wasn’t quite the love I understood, not in that moment anyway. Instead in that moment I felt mostly delirious. It was more like an out of body experience. I was exhausted beyond comprehension from the labour that all I could think about was sleeping for a month.
The feelings I had towards my daughter changed as I was wheeled from the birthing suit to the maternity suit. It rapidly evolved as I watched her sleeping in her little bassinet beside me making little grunts and sighs. It was amazing to know that just a few hours ago this little human was inside my belly. I was stunned by how miraculous it was to grow life for 10 months and then to give birth. There is no other love that fits the love I have for her, no one else fits in that category. It is a type of love that feels as instinctual as jumping when scared or pulling my hand back from a hot stove. It is knowing that I will do everything I possibly can to protect her. It rises from the deepest part of me. While at the same time she is a stranger to me. Every day I learn more about her as she does about this new world she inhabits.
The days we spend together getting to know each other allow this love to grow into the kind of love that feels more familiar to me. I love gazing into her eyes and imagining what life might be like from her point of view. Her eyes are dark blue like the deepest part of the ocean; endless and expansive, just like her. She is not tied to any conditioned thinking or hooked on judgements, she is fresh and new. Her eyes take me in with profound detail. I watch her watching me observing every detail, scanning across my face with pure unobscured conscious awareness. She studies my every movement, every freckle and wrinkle without judgement. There is a thirst in her to understand this new world she lives in. Her senses are maturing as she adjusts to this bright, loud world outside of the womb. She is literally changing before my eyes. As I unwrap her from her swaddle each morning it feels like opening a present. Especially now since she has started smiling. After an exhausting night being up every two hours, I unwrap her from the swaddle to see her laying there smiling back at me.
This love I have for her is a new form of love. It’s expanded my compassion and opened my heart enough to show me there is no limit to how much love can fit in there. I look at people slightly differently now. Everyone is someone’s daughter or son. Every stranger I pass on the street has someone behind them who loves them dearly. Isn’t it strange how we are a nobody in the eyes of a stranger? But yet we mean the world to someone, just like they do. It takes the quote “strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet,” to a whole new level. It makes other people more worthy of compassion when we think that way, doesn’t it?
I’ve also noticed that since becoming a parent my idea of a ‘day’ has changed. I knew and expected the exhaustion, but everything feels different when it’s experienced. The day for me starts around 12:30am or 2:00am, depending on when she wakes up. The exhaustion from waking every two hours reminds me of being on a long flight and trying to sleep in my deeply uncomfortable seat. Our bedroom plays the sounds of white noise that add to the effect of being on a plane. As many mums who have paved this path before me have said, some days are hard, and some days are great. It truly is polarising. Some days my head pounds from the lack of sleep and I feel completely depleted, other days my heart melts watching her little all curled up as she nurses in my arms.
It’s a beautiful thing to bear witness to her grow. I wonder what kind of person she will grow up to be. I sometimes get nostalgic for what’s happening right now knowing that every passing moment is slowly becoming a memory. Especially since her growth is happening exponentially with every passing minute. I imagine how I’ll feel when she’s grown and no longer needs me in the same way. I can picture an older version of myself relishing in the moments when I could hold her entire body with one hand. I feel life passing through my fingers and want so badly to hold on forever. But I know it’s the nature of life. Nothing lasts forever, and while knowing this gives me hope when things are hard, it brings me to tears when things are going well. Not attaching to people and moments has always been a hard one for me to accept. It that was something that made all the more evident when my sister died. For the first time in my life, I was made aware that just because I loved someone, just because someone was family, didn’t mean they belonged to me.
A friend comforted me with this: “if you are completely present, it will be enough.” That is my goal in this journey as a mother, but also as a wife, friend, daughter. When I look back on my life now, I can recall so many moments that were glossed over because there was always seemingly something more important to think about. I also remember how serious I was in so many situations when I really didn’t need to be. Being serious all the time dries up the fun out in everyday experiences. It leaves no room for things to be savoured and truly enjoyed. My goal these days is to bring my entire self to the little everyday moments. I hope to stay present in the face of severe exhaustion and remember to find time to play even in the face of stress. Of course, I won’t be able to succeed every time. But it’s my intention. If I’m fully present, that will be enough.