The moment I felt like a mom
The bonding process with a baby is an interesting one. Some moms feel instantly connected with their sweet babies. For others, it can take a while. Since I was dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression, it took me a while to feel that thing. You can't really describe the thing, that moment --
when you really feel you're a mom at the center of your being, when you see a piece of your heart outside of yourself.
For me, that moment didn't come until Ella was months old. She had been having digestive issues and was struggling to go to the bathroom. One particular night, Tim and I were trying to put her to bed and she just wasn't having it. Her earth-shattering screams let us know she was in too much pain and discomfort. So Tim made her a little bottle with some warm water and brown sugar (helps to settle babies' stomachs and go to the bathroom), and I took her into our bed and rocked her. She was screaming, and straining, and after a short while, she threw up all over my chest. And I didn't blink. Barely even realizing it, I kept trying to soothe her with humming and any calming technique I could think of.
I didn't think anything of it until my husband brought it up after we finally got our sweet girl comfortable and in bed. I changed my shirt, came out of the bedroom, and my husband told me he was proud of me and he wasn't sure if he could have acted as calmly in that situation.
I remember feeling surprised. Surprised that I didn't react to the throw up (as one who has always been squeamish around that sort of thing). Surprised I didn't think about not flinching. All of it.
All I remember in that moment as I rocked my screaming baby girl is wanting to cry. Not because I was tired and frustrated, but because she was in pain. And no amount of regurgitated anything could have taken the focus off soothing her and doing anything we could to make her feel better.
Later that night, as my husband and I chatted on the couch, I remember feeling equipped; that even though I sometimes may feel like I don't know what I'm doing or I'm overwhelmed, that I will find it in me to be my sweet girl's mom in those moments of uncertainty and nerves.
This weekend is, of course, Mother's Day. And as I celebrate with my little family, I'll also be celebrating the women who have showed up and been a mom to me when I needed it. That, though, not all of them have children of their own or they had their own children to take care of, they treated me as one of their own. They found it in themselves to stay up with me when I was sick, lend an ear or a shoulder, set an extra place at the dinner table, or teach a lesson I needed to learn. These are the women who have taught me how to show up for my daughter, to be present for her. And to put on a strong face and not blink in the eyes of the daily (wonderful) chaos of motherhood.