For nineteen years I have held this secret; a secret that, for many years, I thought defined me as a parent. Here goes…I did not have an outpouring of love when my first child was born. There, I said it! I was a total wreck after labor and delivery and I was too spent to feel anything but exhaustion.
I am, in no way, saying my labor and delivery was difficult. Compared to many, it was easy. Sure, my blood pressure was elevated, which precipitated my being induced. Because I had high blood pressure and was hooked up to the pitocin drip, I was not allowed to get up and walk around to ease the labor pains.
I was at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. and the IV line was put in at 7:30 a.m. By 9:00 a.m., I was having full-blown contractions, three minutes apart. My husband, bless his heart, would look at the monitor and let me know that “a big” contraction was coming! Thank you very much, I think I was aware of the upcoming pain. The pains became so intense that during the down time of the contractions, I began to hyperventilate. By the time I regained my regular breathing, another contraction was coming on. There just was not enough time to recover from the onset of the contraction, through the hyperventilation and on to the next contraction. By 11:00 a.m., the nurse said it was too difficult for me and I needed to consider an epidural. I WANTED TO DO THIS WITHOUT DRUGS!!!! But the nurse was right; there was no way I could continue labor this way.
Our son was born at 1:16 a.m. If you do the math, I had between 350 and 400 intense contractions during the time that labor was induced. I had told the doctor that I wanted to avoid a C-Section at all costs but it became very apparent that I was not going to be able to deliver him without help. Out came the forceps and with a little help that way, he was delivered.
After his delivery, I was given oxygen because I could not catch my breath. Looking back, I am pretty sure my body was in shock. I was not in good shape at that time. It had been a hard and grueling day.
I had envisioned the birth of our first child so differently. I imagined my new baby being placed on my chest and being filled with love. NOPE, that did not happen. I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep. I felt guilty that I wasn’t overwhelmed with love, that I didn’t feel that immediate bonding. I feared that my first foray as a mother was going to define me forever.
Things didn’t get better. I just wanted to get home to my own bed, the new nursery, the comforts that made our house a home. Our son was born on a Saturday and by Sunday afternoon, I was on my way home. I felt great! I had rested some and I was ready to tackle my new role as mother.
Sunday, December 31st, I was home to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I don’t even know if I had sparkling juice, but it didn’t matter, I was home. Then came January 1st! I woke up and was in severe pain. I thought I would be a trooper but I couldn’t get passed the pain. I needed to get the pain medication prescription filled. My husband went into town only to find all of the pharmacies were closed. Luckily, he saw a car in the parking lot of our pharmacy and knocked on the back door. The owner (head pharmacist) was doing year-end inventory and was more than happy to fill my prescription. (Remember this was 19 years ago, 24 hour pharmacies did not exist)
January 2nd my husband had to go back to work (no Family Medical Leave Act back then either). That meant my mom would come out and spend the week with me. She was a blessing when things were tough.
On January 2nd my son had his first visit with our new pediatrician. In 3 days our son had lost over a pound in weight and I was frantic that my breast-feeding was not going well. He was supposed to be eating every 2-2.5 hours and that just was not happening. And then to find out he was losing weight. I was going to be a horrible mother! For the first few months of his life, so many people said he looked so thin. I was struggling with breast-feeding and then people were telling me how skinny my child was. There seemed to be more and more evidence that I would be an inadequate mother.
January 3rd, I made an “emergency” visit to my doctor because my right breast was bright red and there was a huge lump forming. A biopsy was performed to see if it was something more than a clogged milk duct. To this day, I see that scar every morning and it is a reminder of how rough things were in the start. In general, I was still in really bad shape. (Sometimes, to this day, it can still be painful.)
Things did get better, but my son weaned himself from the breast at four and a half months. I felt I was such a bad mom as I couldn’t even provide my child the nourishment he needed. He preferred formula over me. It was another indication, I thought, that I would not be a good mother. Transitioning from formula, to cereal, to baby food, to “human” food was a challenge.
We went on to have another child, a girl. And while I wanted more, God had other plans. We are so blessed to have the two we have. And I try to think that I have been a good mother. I have been open to conversation about anything and I try to be understanding in all situations. I am a mother, not their friend. I have expectations of their manners in public and at home and I hope that their core values will help them make an impact in the lives of the people with whom they associate.
I love my children more than life itself. I am glad that I did not allow the first few days, or the first few months of my first born’s life, define who I am . If I would have allowed that, I would have not seen the potential in the gifts I have to offer, or the future I see for my family. I would have wallowed in the pain and inferior sense I had as a first time mother.
Do not let a few things define who you are. As we get ready to start a new year in 2015, find what you do well and excel, find a cause or a hobby which you want to learn and participate, take time to drink good wine, eat good food and love those around you. Don’t let your past define you, but let your future guide you to be the best.
I did not have that love at first sight experience with my son. But every time I see him now, which is few and far between as he is at college, my heart swells with pride as to the man he has become. My eyes fill with tears of joy at his future. I know that I had a part in helping him be who he is now. I know that my love is deep, for both of my children. And I know that I have done all I could for them to have a bright future.
Bless you and your family on this final day of 2014.