Thursday, October 25, 2012

Falling in Love

I've had somewhat of an adventurous life.  I'm 31 years old, and have tried not to waste any of those years.  I've traveled a bit of the world, met some really interesting people, participated in events that made a difference, drank a lot of beer and made a lot of friends.  I've also savored the experience of falling in love.

The head over heels, world spinning outside your door, glowy feeling that comes when you stumble over that special someone is like no other.  Sometimes you feel like a superhero, invincible and strong.  Other times, it can make you feel week in the knees and stomach, like your heart will jump out of your throat.  And in the tenderest of moments, you feel melded into the other person, two becoming one and never to be separated.  Nobody else matters.  I've spent the last year slowly falling in love with my son.

Once I found out I was pregnant, I was in a state of shock for quite some time.  It wasn't an entirely unplanned pregnancy, but I wasn't really prepared for it, either.  I guess you could say nobody really is, but in my case, my world had just been flipped upside down, and this followed on the tails of another big, life-changing experience.  I had just broken my leg while serving in the Peace Corps, and had to come back to the USA much earlier than planned to live with my parents, as I was homeless, jobless and injured.  Pregnancy was another big stressor, and I wasn't in the best of places to handle it.  But, I did, as best as I could, and had a textbook labor and birth with no complications. 

I did not experience an immediate connection with my son, or have romantic feelings about him or us.  Previously, I had decided I wanted to have an unmedicated birth and nurse, because those were the best choices.  And I dutifully read the books, consulted the experts, joined a support group for breastfeeding moms, and have not wavered from giving him these gifts.  I had some help from my sister and mother, so I was not completely alone.  We waited for my then fiancee to receive his visa so he could come and be with us while he waited in South Africa, not knowing how long that would take.  But for many months, I felt overwhelmed and barely able to be me.  I was getting lost in the swell of the baby, of motherhood, and I was so angry.  I was many times balancing the feelings of anger, regret and sadness at the loss of self, with those of joy, peace and giving of things and time for my son.  Maybe I was struggling with a bit of post-pardum depression?  Maybe those feelings are normal, but people don't talk about them?  In any case, I wished I could be a little more relaxed and just enjoy being a new mother instead of worrying about finding a job, a home, getting my fiancee to the USA, and never having any time for myself.

When my son was about 6 months old, his daddy finally received his visa and we went to meet and accompany him back to the States.  That was not a smooth transition, and it has taken about 6 months for us to adjust and get along.  I had so many expectations of him, what he should be doing to help with the baby, and around the house, I wasn't very gracious at giving him the chance to adjust himself!  I'm not proud of that, but I just couldn't physically be kind and gentle.  I was like a wounded animal, lashing about and feeling guilty about my sanity flying out the window on a regular basis.  I wanted to be peaceful and zen-like, I knew it was possible, but I just couldn't get there.  There were moments of clarity and sanity, but much of the time it was like a roller coaster ride.

Now, it has been 13.5 months since the birth of my son, and I can honestly say I am in love with him.  His morning babbles, his soft skin, smooth little head with whisps of brown hair, his toothy grin that lights up a room, the relief on his face when he sees me, his precious closed eyelids as he drifts off to sleep.  All these things and so much more are the joy of mine just because I am his mother.  I may not do everything right, but I never fail him.  Even when I feel weary, or when I don't feel like it, I play games.  I hold him.  I sing and rock.  I patiently pick up blobs of food after he's finished a meal.  And I don't resent it.  It's certainly not what or how I imagined, but it's motherhood.  I have the peace of mind now that the storm has settled, to realize I am still me.  I can look back on these months and see his gradual independence when it seemed he would be attached to me forever, growth and change, and it's a really neat thing.  I feel privileged to have a healthy baby and to be the center of his world.  It feels great to finally be on the up, and be in the groove again.

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