Today my little guy hit his 6-month-birthday. Part of me is tempted to think, “where did the time go?” but to be honest, I feel like the last half-year has been a perfect blend of whizzing by and slowly passing, full of adventure, tricky challenges, and perfectly quiet lovely moments. I broke down a few of my thoughts into three little nuggets to avoid gushing on and on about the whole of my life since September.
Everyone feels differently about their labor and delivery experience, but if asked, all the advice I have for those anticipating the birth of their first child can be summed up in just a few sentences: Of course it’s wonderful and miraculous and all the rest of it, but I will not lie to you–do not believe anyone who tells you it won’t hurt–they don’t know your body, every labor experience is different, and the truth is that the pain can be shocking in it’s strangeness and its intensity. BUT, you can do it, and in the words of my amazing doula, “time is just a thing,” and it will pass, and labor will at some point be over, and you will be confronted with the most amazing overwhelming little being when it is. Secondly, and along the same lines, prepare to be unprepared, no matter how many books you’ve read or how many classes you’ve taken. The experience is out of this world, and I suspect this applies to labor and delivery as well as the next 18+ years. (Everett’s full birth story from my perspective available to download here, if you really want all the details. Warning: it’s kinda long b/c I tried to recall all the details I could)
The first thought that both Eric and I had when we saw Everett’s funny-shaped little head was, “who ARE you?!” It hit us in that moment that we did not know him yet; he’s not a mini-Emily or a mini-Eric, he is a whole separate person. Whoa. This was not in any way a negative realization. Rather it filled me with an overwhelming sense of respect for this tiny being–for his life, for every need that he has, for the person he was at birth and the person he’s going to become under our watch. Respect was not a sensation I expected to feel for a baby, any baby, and it was a pleasant surprise. Close on the heels of Respect came a humbling sense of honor that I get to be this little being’s mother, the one who gets to be with him through so much growth and development, experience new life with him, and hopefully help him out a little along the way. What an amazing privilege, like receiving the most sought-after commission from my high commander. I hope and pray Eric and I can hold onto these sensations into toddler tantrums, childhood sass, teenage attitude, and whatever else might come our way.
The other night I went into Everett’s room where he was sleeping soundly and felt so special that it was my right and privilege to be able pick him up and hold him and kiss him just because I wanted to, because I love him, because I love the feeling of his warm skin and limp relaxed body when he’sasleep, and because he’s mine. Then a rush of grief seized me as I suddenly thought of all the mothers around the world who have mourned, and are mourning, their babies lost to
earthquakes and tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes, and fires; illness, famine, starvation; war, even American missiles, insurgent attacks, suicide bombs, nuclear meltdown; cancer, leukemia, genetic defects, famine; freak accidents, vindictive psychotic ex-husbands, car wrecks. I held Everett and wept, praying, and praising God that my baby is healthy, safe, and close to me at all times.
I maintain that Eric and I became a family the day we got married, 2 1/2 years before we found out Everett was on his way, but his addition and his steady growth from single cell to 6-month-old has resulted and is beautifully tangled up in steady growth for all three of us together. His milestones may be more obvious but there can be no doubt that Eric and I have grown as individuals, in our marriage, and of course as parents. I don’t mean to gush too much, but it really is fun to sit back and reflect on how miraculous this whole family infrastructure truly is.