9 months in, 9 months out

Although, as I like to point out, that last is a lie (the average 40 weeks of pregnancy are closer to 10 months than 9, and you really feel that in the last few weeks).

Yes, I’m still alive. By some miracle, we all are. Although you haven’t heard anything for a good couple of months, we are all ticking along, trying to figure this family thing out. Want to hear something funny though? Although it is crazy, hard, emotional and insane, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever done. And that in itself is pretty surprising to me.

You might recall, I was pretty pessimistic and skeptical about the whole exercise. Pregnancy was a pain in the ass, and early motherhood was, without one single doubt, the hardest and most crap thing I have ever lived through. But lived through it, I did. And what do we have now? An 8-almost-9-month-old (hell, he’ll probably be 9 months old before I get around to posting this), and I love him to pieces.

That connection I was hoping for? It didn’t come in the first second, the first week or even the first month. Although I loved him and fiercely wanted to protect him, it didn’t come all at once in a brilliant flash of light at all. It snuck in, during all the sleepless nights, and pacing up and down the corridors with him. Through the endless drives back and forth to daycare and the doctor and everywhere else in between.

The first time I realised that I loved my child in the way that I believed a mother should, was when he was sick. It was an ordinary night, and we’d had an ordinary day. I can’t remember how old he was – 6 or 7 months, I guess. We had some level of sleeping routine going by then (all hail the odd full nights sleep) but this was not a night I was going to get a full nights sleep. No, that night, my poor boy got a mad high fever and cried as though his tiny heart was breaking. And I didn’t feel mad or upset, I felt sad and worried and helpless. I wanted to hold him and make him feel better. I wanted to cure all his ills. I cradled him all that night, through his fever and out the other side, just offering him all I could, which was my comfort (and painkillers to manage the fever). And it was that night that I realised that I loved him. I loved him as much as I had ever hoped, and luckily, that love has only increased.

In those first weeks and months, I thought I was defective. Every cry and every need felt like an extra chain looped around my neck. I thought I’d never escape all the chains that bound me to this helpless little thing. As an aside, I think I am not a good newborn mother. We got through it, but it was through grim determination and a LOT of help from my husband and my in-laws and especially my sister.

These days, although I do the majority of waking during the night (husband is much better in the early morning than I am, and tends to manage the 4-5am wake up calls), and I’m much happier. Maybe it’s the fact that our little love is more interactive these days or that his face lights up when he sees us. Maybe it’s the fact that I am happily and gainfully back at work, and he is at daycare which allows us both to get the daily stimulation we need. Maybe it’s watching him grow from a helpless newborn into a bouncing (crawling, eel-like, climbing) baby boy has been one of the most fun things I’ve ever seen. I don’t know.

I do know that I’m grateful. I’m grateful that it did sneak up on me. That defective feeling, the endless sad and hopeless feeling, that has faded (I’m also taking a herbal supplement to manage anxiety, so that might be helping).

But if there are prospective or new mums out there who are concerned about a lack of feeling – try not to worry to much. It might not come like a tidal wave or a flash of light. It might not even come at first, but you’ll get through it. And one day you’ll realise that your heart is squirming around on the floor and bashing himself into everything, and it’s all OK.