If I had one word to describe the last few weeks, it would be “surreal.” It’s 5 a.m. and there’s a baby on my chest, snoozing in her new Snugli carrier. This would be night number 3? 4? where Tim or I is up at some ungodly hour because she’s gassy and fighting sleep.
I didn’t think this would be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess I thought it might be… easier? I suppose I expected I’d feel better suited to the task of motherhood… that after going through pregnancy and birth, I would feel like a Parent-with-a-capital-P.
But to be honest, I still feel like a kid playing house.
Oh, there are good days, of course… days when I’m competent and calm and can handle anything she throws at me. Then there are the days when it seems I can do nothing right, when she will not stop crying no matter how much rocking, soothing, and feeding I do. It’s those times when I feel like the worst parent in the world.
I haven’t quite integrated “mother” into my world view. In short, I can’t believe she’s ours to keep. Any day now I expect the “real” parents to walk through the door and say, “Thanks for taking care of our baby girl for us! We’ll take her now.” (Admittedly, on the nights when I am most hurting for sleep, this is more than just a fleeting thought… it’s a full-fledged fantasy). Then life would go back to normal… just T & I, hanging out, responsible only to ourselves.
On the other hand, if something like that were to actually happen, I know I’d never let anyone take her from me. I’d do anything to keep her safe. The mama bear instincts are definitely there, but they’re taking more time to assimilate than expected. Daughter, sister, wife… mom? It’s like a new pair of shoes that have yet to be broken in… the role fits, but it’s not quite comfortable.
So after 3 weeks, the verdict is: it’s hard sometimes. But then the other day I was holding her, and her eyes locked onto Tim and followed him–it was as if she were truly seeing him and recognizing him for the first time–and then she smiled the most beautiful baby smile I have ever seen. Yeah, it was probably just gas, but it brought tears to my eyes. And those rare, almost heartbreaking moments make these early mornings totally worthwhile.