I’ve always enjoyed children, but I never really wanted one of my own. I was sure that I would find the diaper changing, burping, bathing, dressing and staring to be, well, tedious. Certain my brain would turn to mush, I was silently pleased when the doctor told me that I would be unable to be a mother. I dreamt of a lush life of party dresses, boyfriends, career climbing and girls-nights-out. But then, she came along.
Being pregnant was easy for me. I loved the extra attention I got from my husband and strangers. I was comfortable with the changes in my body. What I feared, was the end of the pregnancy, the moment they would plop that slippery infant on my chest. The fear started escalating as my due date approached, so I simply pushed it down and hoped that everything would change when I saw her for the first time.
It wasn’t until the nurse told me it was time to start pushing that the reality sank in. I turned to my husband, “Oh my God. We are going to have a baby.” I started crying. I’m sure the nurse thought the tears streaming uncontrollably down my face were a sign of happiness, but my husband knew better. I squeezed his hand until his fingers turned purple. “Oh my God. We are going to have a baby.”
Gabe and I stared at one another, our last exchange as carefree newlyweds. Oh my God. My life is about to change. My world is about to crumble. It’s no longer just about me. It’s no longer just about us. I’m about to be tied to a little person for the rest of my life. Oh God, I’m not ready. Make it stop. I changed my mind. I don’t want to be a parent. I don’t want to lose my freedom. I don’t want to grow up. Oh my God. My life is about to change.
My husband looked down and saw the top of our baby girls head.
“No, “ I said, shaking my head back and forth, paralyzed with fear. But my body pushed against my will and our baby girl emerged. I lay back, exhausted, dazed and confused. Then the nurse pulled back my paper nightgown and dropped this slimy, wiggly body down on my chest. Oh God. What am I supposed to do with this? The little creature nuzzled into my chest and pulled her head up to look at me as if she was curious to finally meet the owner of this body she had been occupying for the last nine months. She blinked her bright blue eyes, kicked her tiny legs and pressed her body into mine for warmth and protection. I looked down at her and saw my heart beating on the outside of my body. And everything changed.
This little soft bundle of love in my arms needed me to love her, protect her and teach her about the world. From that very first moment, I was amazed with every little detail of her growth and development. I loved to chart her every changing reaction to my touch or the sound of my voice. From the moment she latched to my breast, every ounce she gained became an accomplishment. If she sighed in a new way, I made a note of it to tell my husband. Every little first became a milestone that I couldn’t wait to report to my friends and family. Suddenly, I found myself rushing out of bed in the morning to hear her coo with a new tone. I started skipping stairs to get back to her after a meeting, afraid I might miss a smile. I was at the grocery store, picking out tomatoes and got a rush of joy when I thought, I am Story's mom. I can stare at my baby girl for a complete hour and find every moment mesmerizing.
I thought I would be bored. I thought this life would never suit me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.