Saturday, February 10, 2007

Great Expectations and First Impressions: The Beginning of Love

Welcome Motherwear Readers to the February Blogging Carnival on Baby Love

With penetrating blue eyes and indie rock hairstyle, my kid was born cool. That was my first impression,"This kid is cool." As a cesarean baby, he had very little warning that he would be removed from the comfort and security of my womb,but his eyes were open when the doctors took him out. Maybe I am reading into things, I know newborns can't see very well, but he looked around to survey the area before he started to cry. He was awake. Calm and curious and awake, just as I expected my little Tai Chi master to be. The biggest movements I felt during my pregnancy occurred during yoga savansa when the teacher played Aum chant music. It felt like he was doing Tai Chi. A kid excited by Aum? Very cool. I got a quick glance at him in the OR, but I didn’t hold him until I was back in my room. I quickly discovered that I had been confusing his lack of room to move with an even temperment!

It wasn’t love at first sight, it was wonder. Total amazement. He seemed like a beautiful little alien. He was perfect and yet, he didn’t seem real. Somehow I thought I would recognize him since he’d been my constant companion, but I didn’t. I recognized my husband’s nose and mouth. I recognized my sister’s knit brow and skeptical expression, a look that has come to be known in our family as “The Katie”. I saw my father’s chin and the face and eyes of all my siblings, but the total package was new and strange and perfect.

Without the benefit of labor to get me out of my head, I was still trying to make sense of it all intellectually, to reconcile my expectations with reality.
I thought I would meet my son after a long, unmedicated labor. In my fantasy, I imagined I’d be pushed to the limits of my womanly strength and just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d emerge triumphantly on the other side, victorious, with a baby. I would cry with joy and relief as I clutched him to my breast, where he would start nursing a la Madonna and Child. Instead, we checked into the hospital at 6am and he was out of me by 8:10am. It was so easy* it felt almost like cheating. So easy that when I looked at him, I marvelled at his perfection, but I couldn’t make the connection that he came from me.

For the first few days, I just held him close letting the reality of him soak into my skin. I just kept saying to my husband,”I can’t believe it, can you?” How could we, in all our failings, with all our shortcomings, have made someone so wonderful? Were we even deserving of him? Every sound he made was fascinating. He threw his head around trying to see and kicked his still-bent frog legs trying to stand. Amazing. With his head on my shoulder (as he demanded to be held upright even in his sleep), I listened to the sound of his breathing. I stared at him trying to memorize the details of his face. Before he was born, I thought all babies looked the same. Afterwards, I knew there was no way I could ever confuse him with another baby.

Finally, on the third day of my hospital stay, that feeling of euphoria came over me and I knew he was mine. Of course, he was mine. He was the one I’d been waiting for all of my life. It was as if I’d always known him and always loved him. He is my sidekick, my muse, my only perfect creation, a physical manifestation of love, my connection to eternity and all the other cliches. I get it, now. And wait, two people felt this way about me? Mind-blowing.

Loving him helps me love myself. I want to be a better person for him and at the same time, I know that I am already enough. I love everything about him and when I see myself reflected in him, I love those parts of me. I love my son because he exists. He doesn’t have to do anything or be anything. I love him. Whether he is screaming his head off and stomping his foot like Rumplestiltskin or giving me a look and a smile as if he’s sharing a hilarious secret with me, I love him. Watching my husband with him fills me with joy and confidence. I love my husband for loving him. Ian is counting on us to teach him to be a good man, a good world citizen, to reach his dreams, to learn from pain, to be the best that he can be. We must do our best.

Happy First Valentine’s Day, Ian. I hope you feel loved every day of your life.

Check out the other bloggers at:

Tanya at Motherwear on "How My Body Loved My Baby When My Mind Could Not"

Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3, who contributes 10 strategies for "Helping Your Child Welcome a New Baby into the Family;"

Sinead at Breastfeeding Mums, who writes "Love is All Around Me;"

Andi at Mama Knows Breast, who reviews the book, "Babyproofing Your Marriage;"

Jen at The Lactivist, who writes about how baby love makes you do crazy things.

Melissa at Booby Juice, who contributes "In Love with My Babies,"

Colleen at My Baby and More, who writes about "Baby" Enjoy!

*Except for the recovery, but I recovered quickly. My unmedicated VBAC 2.5 years later proved to be much easier.


Andi said...

What a beautiful post. I'm linking to you for the carnival and would love to know more about why you're in Cairo. Can you email me so I can include it in my post.

tanya@motherwearblog said...

Love your post, Karen. It really captures the wonder of those first hours and days. So glad that you're part of the carnival!

The Mommy said...

I have tears in my eyes, literally. That was so beautiful and filled with emotion. I love reading these carnival posts!

ansateza said...
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