What I Need

This morning, as Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reflecting some on my own motherhood – especially the changes and feelings that occupied my mind in those first bleary-eyed weeks.  Curious about all I had forgotten, I revisited something I wrote when I was a brand new mama.  It ministered to me profoundly this morning.  We’re in a challenging stage in our house right now (though I think every stage has its blessings AND challenges), and it helped me to simply be reminded of the blessing this is.  Maybe it will speak to you today, too.

This was originally posted on January 29, 2009.

I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since Jennifer made her debut.

In one sense, it seems like only yesterday that I labored and pushed and…..wow. The memory is still really fresh for me. (They say women usually forget this, don’t they?) In another sense, though, it seems like a lifetime. I can’t really remember what life was like before her.

As I type this, she’s sleeping in her swing across the room. She’ll wake up soon, I’ll feed her, and we’ll enjoy an hour or so of mother-daughter bonding and eye contact before she again fades away into dreamland. We have our little routine that shapes our days, though it is, at best, a loose routine, subject to change at any time. It’s a dance we learn and relearn every day. We respond to each other’s moods and movements in whatever way we can, hoping that our reaction is appropriate and somehow what the other is looking for.

In the middle of the night, or the wee hours of the morning, when I hear her now-familiar whimpers that summon me from the warmth of my bed, I am thrilled to be greeted by her bright, beautiful eyes looking up at me from her pack-n-play, which is now a prominent fixture in our bedroom. She coos and squeaks, waiting for the shadow of her mommy to appear and make everything okay again; I, groggy from much-needed sleep, hope that I have what she needs at that moment. Her pacifier, maybe, or some time at her mother’s breast. Sometimes, to my sleepy delight, she just wants to be held; this is a desire I am happy to satisfy. In a daze, we retreat to the family room and our spot on the sofa. Sometimes her daddy finds us there, hours later, dozing and snuggling together. I don’t want this practice to become a habit….but I am happy to indulge us both for now.

And during the day, the hours fly by in a blur of diaper changes, naps (hers and mine), and feedings. Many days, I remain in my nighttime new-mother uniform, and she in one sleeper or another. Neither of us fits our clothes well. I am still slightly larger than will fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes and continue to wear many of my now over sized maternity fall backs, and she has yet to grow into many of the adorable items that fill her closet upstairs. I imagine we are a rather bedraggled pair when her daddy – my love – arrives home from work.

He misses her. He comes in and kisses us both – me tenderly, her with the full enthusiasm of a father reunited with his one little girl. He is happy to take over for the evening, and I waver back and forth on whether or not I want him to. I am her mommy, and she is my job; he is her daddy, though, and it is his responsibility and joy to change a few diapers and administer a few bottles while he is at home. I love watching him with her, and she loves her daddy. I anticipate many joyous hours of watching the two of them together. It is a beautiful thought.

It seems like a full lifetime ago that we learned of her imminent arrival. We waited and anticipated and planned for so long, it seems, and she is finally here. The full reality of that fact still has not settled in my mind. I look at her and feel a rush of emotions unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, but there is a part of my mind that refuses to wrap around the fact that this child – this tiny baby – in my arms is the same one who rolled and stretched and kicked inside my own body for those many months. I look at her tiny foot and struggle to remember how it felt when that foot would protrude from my side. I see her sad hiccups and try to remember how those little jerks felt from inside. Those feelings were so distinct at the time, but now, in the reality of her arrival and presence in my arms, I am sad to realize that those feelings are fading. I loved being pregnant. I loved the hope and anticipation of it all, and I miss that. Now that she is here, I feel guilty in admitting that I miss the excitement of that time. I know, though, that my pregnancy was a blessing, and that untold joys and celebrations are to come for us all as we continue to move together from one stage of life to another.

For now, though, we drift from one day to the next, attempting to hold on to the time that we have. She is growing; a few of her tiny sleepers are now too small for her long legs. Before long, she will be a little girl – no longer a tiny newborn – and I will become a seasoned mom. She will soon sleep through the night, and we will no longer have our nightly cuddles on the couch. Soon those tiny whimpers and coos will mature into words, and our relationship will change again. Some of the guesswork will become unnecessary as she is able to tell me what she needs. Today, though, she will cry, and I might, too, as my body adjusts to lack of sleep and hormonal fluctuations. Today, I will work to be what she needs….because that is just what she is for me.


(Note: Those of you who know my family may be confused by my reference to Jennifer. As my girl gets a little older, I’m giving her a pseudonym anytime I reference her in my online space. When I asked her what name she would want if she could have any name in the world, she said Jennifer. So Jennifer she shall be! Here, anyway….)

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