kind of VERY nervous to do this, but I feel it is time. I will be sharing some short excerpts from my book No Guarantees over the next couple of months, and I hope that you will (pretty please???) read and enjoy them. I will be creating a "Book" tab up under the EANFE header, and will collect these various excerpts there as I head into the next stage of publishing.
Are these chapters perfect? No. Thus the nervousness. But as I work and rework and work some more, I'm coming to the conclusion that perfection will probably never happen, but telling this story (fiction this is not my ebook) is truly one my favorite things.
I am currently knee deep in a book-wide revision from my conference, and am just itching to share some bits and pieces with all of you. So I hope you can humor me for an occasional snippet from what I'm working on. Without further ado...today's chapter:
I was conscious of the moment’s every detail. I wanted to remember this forever- the joy, the awe, even the pain.
A warm bundle was resting on my chest, small tufts of hair tickling my chin. As I breathed in out, in out, I felt the tiny bundle breathe in perfect sync with me. My eyes fluttered open and as I glanced down at the beautiful face peeking out at me from the tight bundling, a smile slowly drifted up my face. My son.
So many things about childbirth and new motherhood were force-fed down my throat by experts and fools alike during my expectant period. Walking into the mall to purchase a smoothie, I was given advice on how to get my new baby to sleep. Ordering a burger at a drive through, I was given proven ways to go into labor should I go overdue. Smiling kindly at a mother with toddlers at the grocery store, I immediately became subjected to an “I wish I had known this then” list. A friend of a friend felt led to go into graphic detail of her labor experiences and tell me exactly what I should expect to go wrong.
Everyone has the answers; the facts; the ugly. But no one tells you what this feels like. No one tells you that your heart leaves your body and forms a protective second layer of skin around this seven pound fourteen ounce baby. No one tells you about the feeling of possession that overcomes you; the intense desire to protect; the knowledge that you will never be the same-love the same- again.
Tears pooled in my dark brown eyes for no reason whatsoever, my shoulder length brown hair was flat and stringy because it had been ignored for the past thirty-six hours, my makeup was half removed from my post-labor shower, and my slender shoulders were slumped from exhaustion. But this? This was the greatest moment of my life.
Nothing had adequately prepared me for the celebration of blissful arrival into motherhood. Meeting for the first time the child who I grew-through all the sickness and inconvenience, seeing his eyes lock onto mine for the first time, feeling him nestle into me with ultimate trust, watching his crying pleas for immediate nurturing- I was in love with my baby and with life. I couldn’t imagine life getting any better than this.
Soft snoring met my ears, and I glanced over to my left while tightening my arms around the precious baby resting on my chest. My husband’s tall frame was sprawled out onto the hospital’s sleeper chair that appeared to have about as much cushioning as the elaborate brick walkway in front of our house. The fact that he slept so soundly despite comfort level spoke volumes as to how tired he must truly be.
Other than his slumped form a few feet away, the room was empty and small; crowded with the necessaries, yet devoid of every luxury. I was alone, and yet not lonely. I had never felt more exposed and vulnerable in my life, and it was necessary for me to recharge myself in the comfort of silence where my thoughts were the only speaker. As I nestled into those thoughts, I was surprised to realize that the state of vulnerability was so much more than the simple physical aspect of near nakedness underneath this flimsy robe that played peekaboo with my backside.
For the past two days my body felt as though perhaps it was enduring war against itself and yet losing every battle. I kept surrendering but no one seemed to listen or care as the next wave of conflict came in form of contraction after never-ending contraction. My romantic childbirth ideals formed through hopeful wishing that my strong pain tolerance and mind games skills were stronger than a few little contractions were crushed after a mere eight hours of deep breathing. Labor was hard. There were many moments in those hours of labor that made me think that perhaps my desire to stay in control and not let any sort of drugs overtake my body was the wrong choice. “I can’t do this.” I bawled more than once glaring into Jake’s calm eyes and feeling strangely ticked off that he got let off so easy in this whole process of becoming a parent.
And yet reluctantly grunting aside my annoyance and focusing on his consistent coaching and visualizations of what I was working for, I kept breathing, gasping and eventually pushing for the ultimate prize of becoming a mother. Now my baby was here in my arms, and I was ready for a lifetime of mother-son moments that I had been dreaming of ever since I was a little girl in pigtails, holding my baby doll, singing softly, and rocking the plastic baby into a deep sleep.
With many events, truly the anticipation is better than the actual thing, but in the case of motherhood? The last twenty years of longing and hoping for my own baby was nothing compared to the serene joy that I felt in this moment. I was a mother.
Humbled and ecstatic in the same breath, I’m not sure that anything in my life prior to this could even compare to the conflict of emotions overwhelming me in the moment that motherhood welcomed me with open, shaking arms. Blissful, content, delighted, overwhelmed, scared.
Breathe deeply in, out, in, out. My perfect baby sighed deeply and followed suit. My entire pregnancy, fear like a creeping vine touched every part of my happiness. I constantly worried that when I looked at my baby for the first time, I would be met with difference. My heart housed an apprehension that I couldn’t express out loud even to Jake. The prenatal screening, the eagerly shared horror stories, the statistics, the worry that this is all too good to be true- modern medicine gives pregnant women hundreds of reason to fear. As crowned Worry Queen, I allowed my mind to tumble all too often from “what ifs” to “worse case scenario”.
But now as I looked at my perfect baby snuggled against me I wondered why I even wasted a minute on the fear. Gazing down at the baby tagged as mine, I could find no fault. Curly dark hair exactly like his father’s, clear blue eyes that stole thunder from the clearest of summer skies, ten fingers with ten perfectly formed nails that grasped eagerly toward me, the most delicious rolls of fat on his thighs, and lips that were forming a handsome pout that I knew right now that I would never be able to say no to.
A small round mole graced one ankle that initially made me cringe. But the longer I stared at my little boy and reached down to place a kiss on that dark brown marker on his ankle; I realized that he had been blessed with a small beauty mark. My imagination immediately jumped to a scene including him as a toddler, wearing sandals and shorts on the beach with his ankle mole decoratively splattered with sand as he built the strongest sandcastle possible against the waves that were sure to come. Then he was a teenager hanging out on the back deck of the house with his strong legs propped up on the opposite bench with the mole showcasing his very own unique ankle. In my mind’s eye he was then an adult proposing to a beautiful young woman, down on one knee with the top of the mole visible over his sandal as he declared his undying love. I hated the beautiful young woman already for taking my baby away from me.
The thought sent a warm smile back to my face because I knew that I would be that crazy mother-in-law who couldn’t let go of her son. This mole didn’t take away from his perfection. It enhanced it. Even now as he was bundled tightly sleeping against me, I could picture the slight curve of his birthmark resting on his ankle like a permanent etching of the kiss that I just left there.
My previous fears about motherhood now seemed inconsequential. Of course I will do whatever it takes for me to take care of this helpless embodiment of perfection. He was my son. Why had I even worried? The weight from his small frame rested on my heart in a reassuring way that actually made it feel lighter.
Quickly fading adrenaline combined with exhaustion from labor overcame my ability to stay conscious. My entire body stilled as a restless sleep won over the desire to place more kisses on the rounded forehead that reminded me so much of my own.