Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Mama 'Hood

Alex and I are heading to my hometown tomorrow so that we can go to a baby shower for my cousin Paige, who is expecting her first little bundle of joy in about a month.

Those of you who have been reading here for awhile may remember that I got a bit, um, emotional when I found out that Paige was expecting, and while I don’t envy her swollen feet and legs right now, I’d give up just about anything – save my husband and my own child – to re-live the anticipation of that last month of pregnancy.

(However, if I did in fact re-live it, I would prefer to get some sleep this time around.)

Yesterday I called Mama to tell her that Alex and I were going to be spending the weekend with her and Daddy, and she mentioned how happy she would be to see the little man. She went on to tell me that it was supposed to be cooler this weekend and I needed to make sure to pack some long-sleeved shirts for Alex. I’m really glad she told me that because my original plans were to let him run around barefooted in his Spider Man underwear all weekend while dousing him with cold water.

The advice that Mama gave me yesterday made me laugh a little bit, but it also served as a reminder that the independent part of me likes to think that I would have figured out how to take care of Alex just fine if left to my own devices. And I probably would have done an okay job. But the reality is that I needed other people’s tips and words of wisdom when Alex was a baby. I still do – even though we’re on the back side of potty training and toddlerdom. There’s comfort, plain and simple, in knowing that you’re not alone, that you’re not crazy, and that you’re not going to ruin your child’s life if you can’t breastfeed for the first eighteen months.

There's comfort, plain and simple, in fellowship with other mamas.

For me, in those first few weeks of Alex’s life, my sister-in-law Janie and my friend NK were lifelines. Janie realized – long before I did – that my milk wasn’t coming in like it probably should and that my young’un, he was HAWNGRY. NK had a baby who was six months older than Alex, and I think I mimicked her entire schedule for feedings and naps. But more than anything, they made me feel welcome in the strange new land of motherhood – and encouraged me when I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. In those days where you’re only sleeping in three hour increments (at best) and wandering around in a daze a good bit of the time, that encouragement is huge.

Paige has so many firsts in front of her, and part of me just wants to hold her face in my hands and say, “Soak it up. Soak up every little bit. It will fly by and before you know it that little baby will be shaking you awake in the middle of the night just to tell you that he or she wants to eat for breakfast.” (I know whereof I speak on this one, because Alex woke me up this morning around 4:30 to tell me that he would like a donut, please, when it’s sunshine outside. I was ever-so-pleased to be awakened with a request of such urgency and importance.)

So will you do me a favor? If you have a memory of those first few weeks of motherhood that’s particularly special to you, would you share it in the comments? If there's a tip that saved your sanity, would you pass it along? Once you’re all done, I’m going to send Paige the link so that she can focus – just for a little bit – on the joy that’s waiting for her about a month down the road.

Just for the record, here’s one of my sweetest memories: on my second night in the hospital, David left to get us some supper, and I sat in a chair with Alex in my lap. I was totally and completely overwhelmed by the gift of his life, by the sweetness of his face, by the way he already knew how to wrap his little hand around my finger. And I told him, even though he couldn’t understand my words, how much we loved him, how much God loved him, and how he was, without a doubt, the greatest blessing his daddy and I had ever known. I thought that I could never love anyone as much as I loved Alex in that moment.

But I was wrong.

Because three and half years later, I love him even more.


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