Learning What it Really Means to be a Parent

When my son was born, I remember looking into his sweet, newborn face and feeling like I was complete for the first time in my life. His little sounds and movements left me in awe, and though the rest of my body was in severe pain from tearing in two places and all of the other “fun” that comes with postpartum, my heart was full. The next 30 hours in the hospital truly felt to me as if we were on a different planet. I remember looking out the window on the day we took our Eli home and being shocked that the “real world” was still there waiting for us.Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 8.43.42 AM

Everything was new. My husband and I were no longer just “husband and wife”, but now we were “momma and daddy”, too. We were totally unprepared for all of the emotions that baby Eli brought to us. We had never experienced so much joy or so much worry at the same time. We did not realize that all over the world people everywhere were so concerned about the number of times another human being peed, pooped, or threw up. (This is a new, and now totally normal, thing for us). We didn’t know that it was normal to think that any little mark on his newborn skin could possibly be something serious. We were concerned about every little cry, the way he latched (or didn’t latch), the way he slept (or didn’t sleep), and even the way his little toes curled in. We were concerned because the moment we saw his face, we loved him completely. In that moment, our worlds narrowed to be consumed with two tiny sweet cheeks and 10 little fingers and 10 little toes. He changed everything, and we don’t ever want to go back.

Everything felt perfect.

The months following, however, were far from perfect. I slowly turned into a hot mess of a mom (or, just a “mom”, actually) up 6-7 times a night feeding my little and freaking out feeling like I would never sleep again. Instead of loosing weight with breastfeeding, like so many of my friends told me I would, I gained weight like crazy.
(For all of you mommas out there who have experienced this, here’s something good to keep in mind. Once our bodies are signaled to make milk for our babies, they go into protection mode, too. This means that your body is signaled to RETAIN fat so that in case of an emergency where you might not have access to food, your body will have enough fat to break down to make milk for you baby. While here in the USA this isn’t as much of a concern, in other countries around the world it most definitely is a concern. So, be thankful for it!) My body was completely different and I remember for the first 5 months of his life, I sobbed almost every time I tried to get dressed because none of my clothes fit and I just wanted to feel normal again. While my husband would lovingly embrace me and remind me that in his eyes I was the most beautiful woman, I just couldn’t see it. If that is you, too, you are not alone! Give yourself some Grace. I learned that my little loves me no matter what size I am, and he needs to see me confident in my skin. Sound familiar?

Life was moving on all around me, and I felt like I couldn’t catch up with it. The dishes and laundry were piling up. My friends were continuing weekly get togethers’, but I continued to stay home to try and help my little develop a bedtime routine. My husband and I felt disconnected from the whole world, and even though we had just added another human to our family, there were many times were we felt completely alone.

Everything felt lonely.

That is when I finally had this realization that I think moms (and dads) everywhere eventually come to: our life felt different because it WAS different, and that’s OKAY. We felt alone because our friends didn’t have kids yet, and though we loved them dearly, it truly is a world of it’s own. They didn’t know how to relate to us, and that’s OKAY. I had another realization. My body felt different because it WAS different. My body GREW A HUMAN BEING. My body was currently SUSTAINING a human being. I didn’t snap back to who I used to be, and that is OKAY.

We had to stop trying to plug in to our life before our son the same way we were used to, because that life was gone. That didn’t mean we couldn’t hang out with our same friends or do the things we loved to do; it just meant we had to learn how to do those things differently. Our son became our priority! We had to realize that this didn’t make us lousy friends, but instead it made us good parents. Our friends eventually adjusted, and a set of them even got pregnant and had a child of their own. We also realized that we needed to find a new village of people who were parents, too, in addition to our old group of friends. We needed both to help keep us sane and stable. Once we made some friends who were parents and understood that 6:30pm on a weeknight just doesn’t work out when you have a home full of kids who need bedtime stories to be read and their teeth to be brushed (before you have to brush them again, because let’s be honest, they rarely do it right even when they said they did). We felt at peace and we felt a new normal emerging. Eventually, we became so close to them that on nights we wanted to hang out we did bath time with all the kids, and story time with all the kids before going home and putting them to bed.

Everything was finally okay.

Being a parent is about the ability to have constant flexibility, and the realization that time invested in your family is never time wasted. Now that I have realized that, I am determined to soak up every second that my son is little. What amazing memories we are making in our life. Life has moved on, and that is okay.


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