It was the last Tuesday of September—the eve of a new life. At thirty-eight weeks, two days pregnant, I woke up to a beautiful, warm autumn day after a full night’s sleep. On my way to work, I noticed a few trees drained of their summer green and instead burning with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. The beginning of autumn, my favorite season, was already blossoming. Change was filling the crisp air around me, and there was a grand metamorphosis stirring beneath the surface waiting to transform me instantaneously, permanently, completely. Anxiously, I was counting down the last days of the month in anticipation for October, for the birth of my first baby boy. Although I could slowly feel my body preparing for labor as the quick, sharp pains of Braxton Hicks contractions seemed to be more and more definite and defined with each step I took, I could not have known upon waking up that morning that the next twenty-four hours, and all the hours after, would not only change the season but also change my whole world forever.
Time is a strange and fascinating thing because as my words reach you in this December edition, my son will already be in his third month of life, but as these words are leaving my heart, there is a tiny baby sleeping next to me in only his third week of life. And with a heavy guilt, which I am sure in retrospect I will realize is only the fog of sleep deprivation and out-of-whack hormones, I am so anxiously wishing, pleading, praying it was already December, or better yet, next December. It has been three weeks since I last walked into work like any other day. Three weeks, already? They say, and yet, I sigh, it has only been three weeks.
Millions of moments in these three weeks have blurred together for me. I haven’t slept in three weeks. I haven’t been myself in three weeks. Over three weeks, I’ve cried more than I did during pregnancy, more than this new little baby has cried. Suddenly, all the positive feelings of patience, peace, and perseverance during pregnancy have drained from me like the life-filled green draining from all the autumn trees. My heart and body ache tremendously. I am terrified. I anticipated motherhood to come so naturally to me because I planned and prayed for this baby, and yet, who is this little stranger crying next to me? How can something so tiny and cute be so terrifying and stressful?
I kneel over this tiny crying stranger after changing him for the second time in fifteen minutes, one wet and one very orange-filled diaper. Three snaps to close the onesie and two quick catches of his feet inside the footie pants, and just as I slide the pants up, he poops. Again. Who knew a poopy diaper would make me cry? My tears fall on his bare feet as I undress him again. And there he lies quietly, contently as I cry over orange poop. Finally, we dance around the living-room, but instead of staying quiet and falling asleep to my desperate whispered prayers, he cries again. And I cry too, because I don’t know what else to do. I can’t do this. This beautiful little baby deserves the world, and I don’t think I can give that to him. I am a terrible mommy. All of these feelings flood out of me as I drop to my knees, burry my face against my baby, and rock back and forth, back and forth. Out loud, I cry and beg God to teach me to be a good mommy.
God does answer prayers. In his indirect, mysterious ways, He sends to us the answers we seek. Sometimes we have to open our eyes a little wider to see those answers. Another week has passed, and so it has been one month. One month ago, a perfect little baby waited with God. God looked down to Earth, and out of all the people, He chose me, entrusting me with the most extraordinary responsibility of loving and nourishing this
new little life. I am humbled and blessed as a new mother. Even when he frustrates me and makes me angry in his infancy and as he grows older, I have to thank God that he can because some babies can’t. Some babies can’t color on the couch, some babies can’t cry, some babies can’t go home with mommy and daddy, some babies never get to meet mommy and daddy. My little Andrew is healthy and perfect. And for that I thank God. God chose me to be Andrew’s mother because He knew I am a perfect match for everything this child needs. And for that I am so humbled and blessed.
Becoming a mother is the hardest, most terrifying and amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’ve only just begun. I will not always know why he is crying, and sometimes I will succumb to simply crying with him. Arguably, the infancy stage, especially for a new mother, is the most difficult stage. However, I know each stage of childhood and beyond comes with its own challenges. I realize I should not wish to rush my baby’s infancy because time is already stealing so many precious moments from us. As I said before, by the time my words reach you, my favorite season with all its vibrant colors will be swept away by winter snow, and the first few fleeting months of my baby’s life will be gone. During that time, there will be a million more moments full of crying and poopy diapers, the moments that will strengthen me as a mother. It is the fleeting moments, however, that make it all worth it.
Lindsey Staples, a teacher’s assistant for the UPK program at Heritage House Childcare and Learning Center, earned a B.A. degree in English/Creative Writing from Keuka College in May of 2009.