I remember when they laid her on my chest, and we met eyes. The exact same shade of blue clashed one with the other, and all I could think was…Finally.
Finally she was here. After three hours of pushing, after 28.5 hours of labor, after two weeks of Braxton Hicks, after ten some odd months of pregnancy, after two years of marriage, after the countless before when I wished and prayed for this moment, after ten years of knowing my first would be a girl. There she was in all her pink chubby glory. And she was perfect.
But ( isn’t there always a “but”) I didn’t feel like a mom in that moment. This surprised me. I kept waiting for the word to sink in during what seemed an endless pregnancy, but it just didn’t seem to fit.
Mom was..well…MY mom, and how could I ever be that? Mom was constance, consistency, unconditional love, and grace beyond my reckoning. Where could I even begin to come close to my heart’s own definition. It was intimidating to say the least.
I thought the bond of breastfeeding would make the word settle into its place finally. It was beautiful and easy for us. She knew just what to do and, oddly, so did I. We clung to each other when all else seemed foreign in that busy haze as midwives, nurses, and family bustled around us. It was too much noise and light and even smell after everything that had just happened. This moment called for solemnity and reverence even. We found our own way with each other. It was incredible, but I still didn’t feel like mom. I found myself panicking.
She slept then, and I found myself alone. I watched her wrinkled brow and fitful breathing. She hadn’t quite gotten used to this new world, and I hadn’t quite gotten used to having her in it.
The next few weeks after were a beautiful blur of sleeping and eating for the both of us. I forgot my own name, much less my panic over becoming a mother. I simply did what needed to be done. The strangest part of it was that I can’t remember complaining or even being emotional. My world revolved around a baby girl, and I thought of little else but her survival and comfort.
Months passed much the same way. She smiled, cried, laughed, and cooed. She started interacting and playing. She sat up, started waving, started solids, and transitioned to the crib. I couldn’t tell you what day she did any one of those things. It simply happened one day and was normal the next.
That’s how becoming a mom is. It’s not in one moment when you read that positive test, or when they say “It’s a girl!”, or even when they pass a baby into your arms. The word sneaks up on you in an evolution of time and self.
I don’t know when I became a mom. I just AM one. I’m not my mother or anything like her. I’m just me as mommy. Mommy means the one who wakes her up and puts her to bed, the one who feeds her and cleans the mess up after, the one who plays and makes her laugh out loud, the one who holds her skin to skin when the tears won’t stop.
“Mother is god in the eyes of a child.” No truer statement have I ever heard. I’m her world, and she is mine. We have been since day one: the day I started to learn the meaning of Mom.