On September 18, 2014 (that’s five days ago) at 11:45 am, I became a parent. I’m sure all my Facebook friends are completely sick of all my “hey look at my kid!” pictures I’m always Instagramming or Tweeting (sorry not sorry), but it’s because I feel like the world deserves to get a daily (or hourly) viewing of the world’s most perfect baby. Because really, he is. Lying there on the operating table (I had a C-Section), I marveled when I first saw him. I couldn’t believe God would give us something so…perfect…in every way. I know this is something probably every mother feels when she sees her child for the first time, but I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the emotions I would feel when it was my turn (nor was I prepared for the intense nausea I would feel at that moment which would, if it were even possible, perhaps dampen the moment a bit).
While it’s only been 4 days, and in reality, I still have everything to learn about parenting, here are a few things I’ve observed about being a brand new mom:
1. I cry all the time.
Not what you think. I don’t usually cry because I’m sad lately. While I believe Postpartum Depression is a very real thing, I don’t think I’ve experienced it yet. My mom says I don’t have PPD, I have PPH (Postpartum Happiness). I cry because I am simply overwhelmed by how beautiful this gift from God is—so much that I could literally just sit and watch him sleep for hours. I cry because I can’t believe how richly blessed we are. I cry because I’m so touched by the outpouring of love by so many who have showered us with love, encouraging words, and gifts to welcome our son into the world. I cry because I am so afraid that tomorrow he’ll be bigger and different and I’ll never again have this moment to cherish (okay that part is a little sad).
2. Things that are a big deal suddenly don’t matter.
As I was gazing, enamored, at my son, I said to my mom right before we came home from the hospital, “It’s funny…all the things that used to matter to me.” I keep having to go through my phone to delete pictures so I can take more pictures of Ezra (that’s my perfect baby’s name), and it’s crazy to me that all the things that used to be important to me just aren’t so much anymore. I have a ridiculous amount of cat pictures. I take way too many pictures of food before I eat it. I used to think an awful lot about my hair and makeup. Even in the past month, I’ve cared a great deal more about how my house is decorated than I probably ever will now. I cared a lot more about girly drama than I think I’ll allow myself to care about now. I used to think poop was gross. Okay, poop is still gross, but not when it’s in the diaper of my baby. Then it’s a celebration because I know he’s getting the nutrients he needs. I used to think urine in your face was about the grossest thing that could happen to you. Then it happened to me twice in 24 hours, and you know what? I’m still alive. And I’ve learned a thing or two about pee-pee shower prevention.
And don’t even get me started on the delivery. In many ways, it was a nightmare that pre-baby Hannah would probably need therapy to overcome the terrors of, but post-baby Hannah sees that the end result far outweighs anything it took to have it. John 16:21 says “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” and it’s absolutely true. The moment I heard that first cry, I didn’t care about the hours of labor which turned out to be for nothing, I didn’t care about the failed epidural, I didn’t care about the risky surgery—all of that was petty stuff that happened in the past. My one reality was the gift God had given me, and I was happy.
I’m still so flawed on so many levels it’s embarrassing, but your priorities quickly have a way of changing when you transition in this way—suddenly everything is about his health, his happiness, his future. Everything else is just stuff.
3. Things that don’t matter suddenly do.
But you just said…? Right. Everything flip flops. I used to not know anything, or care anything about things like diapers, pacifiers, car seats, or anything of the kind. Now I can’t put a pacifier in my baby’s mouth without researching and seriously pondering all the possible ramifications—all the ways this decision could affect his health and happiness. I can’t eat or drink something without thinking about how it might affect his breast milk. I can’t watch someone hold him without wondering what kinds of germs they may be giving him. I used to laugh about the little things about which parents got all bent out of shape. Now most of those “little things” don’t seem funny to me at all. What’s overwhelming to me is that these are all things that affect his physical health—these little things are not even comparable to the things that will affect his spiritual health–his eternity. I’m just thankful that I can go to the perfect Parent who will give me wisdom for all the decisions–big and small.
4. I appreciate my mother more than I ever have before.
Guys, I’ve always loved my mom, but in the past few days, my mom has appeared more like a superhero to me than anything else. She has been my rock, my cheerleader, my defender, my housekeeper, my cook, my babysitter, my nurse, my sounding board, my counselor, my best friend. I simply cannot imagine doing anything I’ve done this past week without her. There’s something so poignant and beautiful about understanding firsthand what it’s like to love your own child, and now that I have my own, I see so much more why she cares so much about me, why she is so willing to sacrifice so much time (away from her husband, I might add) and energy to help me. But much more than that, I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for all the sacrifices she’s made for me since she brought me home from the hospital…I see now that she was completely willing to lose herself fully in order to give me a beautiful existence. I see that every decision she and my dad ever made for me was a prayerful one and often a heart wrenching one. I will understand this more and more as I continue my journey as a parent, but for right now, I simply hope I will be able to one day do for my daughter (if I ever have one) what she’s doing for me right now. It’s truly the most loved I’ve ever felt in my life.
5. Nothing is more beautiful than watching my husband bond with my son.
I’m falling in love with my husband all over again, but in a much different way than I did in college. Watching the man who has always been afraid to hold babies begging to hold ours and rushing home to be with him every day is fascinating and, in a way, profound to me. I think God makes that change in men when they become fathers, and it’s a wonder to behold.
6. You just figure things out.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, will try to tell you how to take care of your baby. Everyone will tell you the horrors of their own delivery, and everyone will tell you all about all the best ways to feed your baby, put your baby to bed, clean your baby, diaper your baby, and anything else that has to do with how to parent your child. But everyone has a different opinion of what is best, and you just have to take it all in, save the sensible bits of advice, and throw away the silly ones. Then you just have to do the best you can, not stress out when things don’t go according to plan, and just figure out what works for your family. I may end up doing a Babywise schedule, I may not. I may cloth diaper eventually, I may not. I may end up buying expensive special baby detergent, I may not. But for right now, I’m going to do whatever works. I’m going to do whatever makes baby happy and healthy. And I’m determined to keep my advice to myself unless solicited for it in the future. Although I have a feeling my advice will be, “Try different things, but do what works best for your family, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks about it.” The only one you have to please is God, and God will be pleased if you love your child and teach him how to love Jesus. That’s it.
I’m sure I’ll be discovering lots of other things in the days to come (at this rate, in the minutes to come), but for right now, I’m busy. I have to stare at this face for an hour or so before heading to bed. You would too if you could.