When my daughter was born, she couldn’t breathe. Time went by and that precious sound of newborn crying just didn’t come. There I was, in that precarious, exposed childbirth position, helpless. I saw my midwife’s worried face as she said, “call it” to my nurse. And almost instantly, I watched my room flood with people, running in to code my new baby.
As they worked on her, I looked over at my husband and asked in desperation, “will she be okay?” and the man, who, to this day does not realize there are times I WANT TO BE LIED TO, said, “I don’t know.”
I laid there while a team of strangers tried to save my girl, who I had yet to see, and I wondered whether I was going to leave that hospital a mother... or not. Finally, I heard her, and the man in charge of her resuscitation said, “she’s going to be okay, mom.” And that was it. My title was official.
Abby spent most of her first day in the NICU for observation; where I was repeatedly told by the staff that she was the fattest baby in there. (Who you callin’ fat?) When I got her back that night, I spent hours staring at her and thinking of all the things I would do to protect her. I thought how I would jump in front of a train for her, because, that comes up so often.
Of course, parenting is not a single act of valor. It is much harder than that. It is years of relentless effort and worrying and feeling fairly certain you are doing it all wrong -- interspersed with rare moments of sheer bliss where you are pretty sure you must be doing something right.
When I was young(er) and foolish(er), I’d look back on my childhood and question my mother’s decisions. I have no doubt my own children will question mine. But, I’m willing to bet that once they are old enough to realize life is not a series of obvious, logical choices, but rather a bunch of shoulder shrugging, ‘let’s try that and see what happens’ moments, they, like me, will look at their mom and say, “thanks for doing your best.” (And if they don’t, hell with them... ungrateful little degenerates.)
I’ve been a mother for nine years now; not seasoned, but no longer a rookie. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder if I’m doing the right thing for my kids. I’ve met many women who feel the same way. The advice I offer all mothers out there, struggling to keep it together, is the very first advice I gave my own child: just breathe.
Hang in there, moms, and...
(Abby gave me this card this morning... while I was using the bathroom. And so it goes.)
I like to throw things.