What's your first memory of motherhood? Was it hours of grueling labor? Was it the moment you first gazed into your newborn's eyes? Was it the first time you held or fed your child? Was the moment you realized you were a MOM when you first took your child home, realizing with increasing panic that you were now responsible for this being?
Was it something else entirely?
For me it was.
I never experienced any of the above scenarios. They weren't part of my journey into motherhood. In fact, my daughter was 3 months old before any of the "momness" clicked in. As many of you know I was too sick after delivery to be a mom in anything but name. I couldn't even take care of myself, spending 9 weeks of my daughter's first 12, in hospitals, relying on nurses, family, friends, and strangers to pick up my motherly duties. I am so thankful for all of those who did what I couldn't. Especially, my husband who, without flinching, became father and mother to Emeline.
The first time I felt like "Mom" was in mid-late August of 2010. I was healthy enough to have stayed out of the hospital for weeks and was slowly regaining my strength. I wasn't quite ready to be left alone with Emy, but Josh and I were slowly establishing a routine.
Each morning, around 7 am, when E would wake, famished (as would become her norm), he would roll out of bed to prep her bottle. As he did this, I would enter her room, get her, and change her diaper. Josh would meet us in the living room, handing me the bottle before going back to bed to catch a few precious moments of sleep. Emy and I would snuggle into the dark green recliner we purchased the night before she made her dramatic arrival, and she would happily begin to eat.
I vividly remember holding her, unsure of whether I should stop her mid-bottle to burp, or take my cues from her. In the end, I left it up to her. At 3 months of age she had far more experience with this whole feeding thing than I did. Most of the time she would drain the very last drop before stopping. I'd prop her upright on my shoulder, her toes barely reaching my belly button, gently pat her back for a few moments before she'd let out a monstrous belch. A sound that made this mama proud.
We'd settle in for a cuddle. One arm would drape around my neck, the other would find her mouth. She has always been a thumb sucker. Our first 3d ultrasound revealed this about her.As well as the fact that she had my nose, and often liked to sleep with her arms stretched above her head. There is no denying that she is my kid.
We'd drift off to sleep that way. Emy stretched out, her full weight - all 8 + pounds of it, pressed against my chest. It was the first time in months that I felt whole - at peace, able to sleep deeply. For close to 3 hours we'd sleep. We'd sleep through Josh getting ready for work, making coffee, and I'd wake only slightly, when he kissed me goodbye before he left the house. At some point the doorbell would ring and it would rouse us enough that we'd be able to start the day. Usually it was my home care nurse Kathy, quickly followed by whichever dedicated soul had signed up to care for us that day. Their presence, while welcome and very much needed, was enough to break the spell and return me to reality. The reality where I was sick and blind and couldn't care for my daughter in the way she needed.
But that time before. In the early morning hours, with the shades drawn tight, my baby snug against my chest, that is when I became "Mom".