I worshiped at the altar of motherhood for the first time in my life.
As dawn broke on the eleventh day of the seventh month, I welcomed my son into the world alongside a small birthing team of doctors, nurses, and family members. The final push followed by a sensation of “empty”, and suddenly this small mewling creature was on my chest. He was quiet. Peaceful, even. His head was a bit misshapen but he was unmistakably mine, with a head full of thick black hair.
Two days of pro dromo labour and twenty-four hours of active labour. At four thirty in the morning, I was exhausted and completely awestruck all at once. I watched my husband’s eyes underneath the harsh lights as they cleaned my son’s passageways and checked his vitals at a station near my bed. In my husband’s leaf green eyes, I watched the expression go from overwhelmed to overwhelming love. After all, I’d spent almost two days in varying amounts of pain. No one likes to see their loved ones in pain.
When they placed him on me — very little blood and almost no filmy layer of vernix, in spite of not being cleaned — I couldn’t see him. The lights blinded me. But I could feel his warmth. I could feel his tiny fingers as they grasped for sustenance. I could partially see the head of black hair (this child was certainly pieces of me).
“He’s perfect,” I heard myself say. “He was worth all of this and more.”
As I write this, my three day old son is laying in the same bassinet that I used when I was that small. We have been challenged. We are tired and scared and anxious. We question ourselves. We question our assumptions and research everything.
Google has become our only web page as we investigate remedies for late breastmilk, the pros and cons of using pacifiers, the best breast pump to use and buy to bring in more breast milk, and so on and so forth. We are patient with each other. I’ve cried that I’m not a good mother because how can I be a good mother if my milk won’t come in? I’ve cried that I miss my parents — they went home the day after Gabe came home from the hospital — and that I wish I could be near my mother.
I look into the big, steel grey-blue eyes of my child (which are sure to change colour at some point soon) and know that in spite of the sleep deprivation and the tears and the anxiety, he truly is worth everything.
Today, I’m weeping openly about where I’ve come from and where I’ve yet to go. I started off as this nonchalant mother-to-be with very little concern for the things that I thought maybe I should be concerned with, even if they were superficialities. I graduated from nonchalant to pensive, considering options and philosophies.
The moment the altar of motherhood was bestowed upon me, I became a Mother. Mama. Mommy. There is no going back now.
But then again… why would I?