I tell Matt all the time that this is the happiest season of my life. I so love being Luke’s mom. It has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined.
I was extra alert on that car ride home from the hospital, sitting in the backseat with him, our tiny precious cargo, wondering if the carseat straps were tight enough. (Come to find out they weren’t. But we were driving like Miss Daisy.)
Bathing him felt like very fragile business. What if we dropped this teeny slippery baby?? I didn’t bathe him much that first month, not just because they say babies don’t need baths often, but because I felt uncomfortable doing it by myself if Matt wasn’t there to help me. I have since grown in my comfort level with this and now happily anticipate his nightly baths. He loves doing little kicks in the water and melts me when he smiles as I gently pour water over the back of his tilted head. So sweet.
And then afterwards he smells like a dream and we snuggle and I’m transported to some kind of heaven.
When I’m holding him after he has eaten and his sweet face is at my shoulder, I love sniffing and nuzzling the back of his fuzzy head and kissing that squishy soft cheek. It feels sacred, those quiet moments just him and me. And I breathe it all in, every tender minute.
I look forward to picking him up in the morning, and even though I’m tired, I’m also excited to greet him and hold him.
During wake time, I love watching his wide, curious eyes take in the world around him. The world of reflections and patterns and light and shapes and color. He loves to stare at the ceiling fan and the gray curtains and the black and white picture frames above the couch and any lightbulb that he spots from his angle below the shade (which, by the way, makes me wonder…Is that dangerous for him to stare directly at a light bulb?? Like it’s dangerous to look directly at the sun? Just in case, I try to block the bright light bulb with my head.)
He loves books and will lie calmly and look on with interest when being read to. My heart swells watching him study the pictures. It’s the sweetest thing. Matt and I find ourselves washing dishes now and saying things like, “Big A, little a, what begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator, A…A…A!”
We found a working rhythm pretty early on, and honestly that first month wasn’t as big of a shock as I was anticipating. I daresay, it felt rather natural. Getting up in the night to feed him wasn’t a burden; I was so grateful to HAVE a baby to get up in the night with! I didn’t feel riddled with anxiety or confusion because we had a plan that gave us a fair amount of confidence. Also, there was the adrenaline of caring for a new baby. And Luke was a pretty content little guy from the beginning. (Not that I didn’t have my moments – On Day 4, I just started crying out of the blue into Matt’s chest when my hormones were coming down (or going up…or whatever they do after you have a baby), and I was finally processing all the events of labor and delivery and bringing Luke home.)
The effects of sleep deprivation set in the 2nd month, when I started feeling more draggy and was dealing with some breastfeeding issues. One Sunday morning, I developed a milk bleb which shot lightening sharp, excruciating pain from my breast to seemingly every nerve on the planet. I told Matt I might choose unmedicated labor again over having a milk bleb. SO painful if anything touched it. Consequently, I couldn’t nurse Luke on that side. Matt tried giving him a bottle which Luke wouldn’t take. He then tried feeding him my breast milk with an eye dropper, which just made Luke frustrated and cry harder. I was crying in the other room because I couldn’t feed my baby and felt so sad for him and helpless about it. There was the physical pain, but hearing Luke cry like that just broke my heart. That was a hard day. I cried lots of tears. Matt was my champion though, staying home from church to care for us, researching solutions, driving around town to get nipple shields and epsom salts.
That was also around the time when I felt more sensitive if Matt ever, even benignly, questioned any “mom” decision of mine if it seemed to go against something we had decided together earlier. Not that he was unreasonable or unkind, but I wanted all my decisions on Luke’s behalf to be revered as unequivocally right and good and wise (even though I was starting to second guess some of my choices too, sometimes a lot in the same day).
The internet was both a help and hinderance when it came to researching all things baby. One of the great things about being a new parent in the present day is that there is a wealth of resources available. My mom said all they had back when I was a baby was Dr. Spock. But I have multiple books and websites and blogs and forums to access. And access I did. I soaked it all in like a big, new mom sponge. I’d type in my question, and I’d get a thousand different answers. I ordered new books in addition to the ones I read when pregnant. I kept a log during Luke’s nap times, so I could find patterns. I read up on a bunch of different schedules and routines to see if I should tweak mine, meld some different ideas together perhaps. I didn’t initially feel stressed, just alert and aware and determined to make well informed, sound decisions. But then over the course of some weeks, my mind started to get fuzzy and cluttered with all the information. And while a lot of the information is fine and good, I found that too much information, instead of providing clarity, was just causing confusion and stress. I was picking up and implementing all these nuggets as I learned about them, sacrificing consistency. Does that make sense?
My friend Liz recently said to me, “The internet is not a new mom’s friend.” I laughed at that, then wanted to cross stitch it and hang it in Luke’s nursery as a reminder to myself to stop the maddening research and stick with my original plan and my gut and the Holy Spirit to gently guide me.
He gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11b
The internet didn’t feel gentle. There are some pretty accusatory and mean comments moms spew at other moms on the internet for their parenting convictions and decisions.
Fortunately, I have been blessed to be surrounded by some wonderful, experienced moms who have been nothing but encouraging and helpful sources of information and wisdom for me. I’m so very grateful for them. That’s one of the benefits of having children late. You can learn from your friends who’ve gone before you!
I did have a lactation consultant come to my home recently and I LOVED her! She was like a magical fairy – her with her flowery skirt and turquoise cardigan, who quickly figured out that I have an oversupply of milk. An oversupply? I never would have guessed that. Basically, I’m producing too much foremilk, resulting in Luke trying to slow the flow (which is causing me pain) and him getting too much lactose which causes him to wake early and have excess gas and green poo. It’s a whole thing. She drew up a plan for me to level out my milk supply, and things have been going much better. Is it weird that I want to buy her a friendship necklace? And go on vacation with her? I will forever be grateful to Miss Brandy.
(I am a little sad though that I can no longer eat the occasional lactation cookie. I guess I’ll just have to eat regular cookies now…which doesn’t feel as responsible to me.)
Aaaanyway, I’ve learned that researching baby stuff is a balance. It requires some restraint for my sanity, but still involves a fair amount of detective work. And that balance is hard for me to find sometimes, but I’m getting there.
Speaking of detective work, I’ve been watching reruns of Columbo on one of the channels here. It reminds me of sitting in the big chair with my dad when I was a girl and watching it with him. I love Columbo. His calm, humble, and direct approach to tricky cases and suspects. The clever ways he solves each mystery. Ya know…, now that I think of it,… Columbo is kind of like a good lactation consultant! Or a thoughtful and intentional mom.
So, in closing, I love motherhood. It’s the most wonderful, mysterious, humbling ride. I’ve teared up a time or two from the sheer joy of it. Other times from frustration over something I can’t solve at the moment. But I mostly feel joy. Inexplicable JOY!