Monday, September 7, 2009

Pondering Prunes and Other Matters

So, a funny thing happened to me yesterday. See, we started Charlotte on solid foods this month. We’ve been doing the rice cereal for a few weeks now, and yesterday we added a fruit. We hemmed and hawed for a while about what to choose for the big premiere, and after a cautionary blessing from my friend, Alexis, (whose advice I sought on the matter) we chose prunes. Cautionary, in case you were wondering, because of the effect it might have on the princess’s bowel movements. So, of course, Charlotte had a delightful smear of prune-mush painted across her grinning face, requisite photos were snapped, and clothing was soiled. Chris and I enjoyed the moment as much as any team of parents would.

But, that’s not the event to which I am referring. It’s what happened after the moment had passed that struck me. Chris had taken the baby to her room for a wardrobe change, and I retired to the laundry room to spray some OxiClean on her bib and pajamas. And while I was doing this, I became irrationally and passionately HAPPY. I’m not exaggerating. I stopped for a moment to take in what I was doing, and I just felt so grateful and overjoyed that I had a bib to spot-treat, that I cried a little. Just a little.

Most of you will know where I’m going with this. As a former infertility patient who waited three years to have a child before finally giving birth to my daughter, I often find myself appreciating the smallest tokens of motherhood, tokens that maybe some people might never notice, and possibly not appreciate, either.

Of course, three years is a drop in the bucket to couples who have spent closer to a decade trying to conceive, to anyone who has attempted to raise the inconceivable amount of money needed for adoption or fertility treatments, to those who endure the scrutiny of their lives and homes at the hands of case workers and adoption agents, and especially to those same-sex couples who do all this AND contend with unfair discrimination, to boot. We were lucky that our insurance paid for all our treatments. We were even luckier that when they didn’t work, we were able to conceive naturally. But, those three years were the hardest of my life. Of our lives. I will never forget the pain of watching the parade of strollers pass by me in the mall, the effort it took to plaster on a smile at countless baby showers, the strength I had to muster to offer a simple congratulations to a friend, and the guilt I felt at not meaning it.

It was a painful chapter in my life, but it is a story for another time. This is a happier story. This is the story of how much I appreciate every moment of the amazing gift I was given. This is not to say that I think I, or anyone else in my position, loves or appreciates their child any more than someone who took one look at those cheerful, pink lines and thought, “Oh, SHIT!” I have seen parenthood shape and transform people. I know that it is, in some cases, the greatest thing that you never knew you wanted. And once you have it, you appreciate the hell out of it. I just think when you have to wait a while for it you gain a little perspective. And then you cry while doing laundry, apparently. I know. I’m very wise.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t have truly awful days. Today was a truly awful day. Hell, last week was a truly awful week. I’ve been sick, and I can’t deny that I miss the days when I could call everything off, drown myself in Nyquil, and sleep until I felt better. Would I trade places with someone who can? Hell no! But, sure, it can be hard when all you want to do is sleep, recuperate, and wallow, and you have to wake up SEVERAL times throughout the night to rock, burp, or nurse your baby, beautiful blessing that she is. It can really suck when she won’t nap all day, refuse to nurse, then throw a tantrum because she’s sleepy and hungry. It totally blows when you can’t get the rest you need, but you have to get out of bed and suck it up. I feel sorry for myself sometimes. I cry out of frustration and even anger.

But then I look around my house. I look at the boppy, the burp cloths, the binkys she won’t take no matter how hard I try, the playpen full of toys. I go to her room and notice the half-read book I had to set down because she started screaming while I tried to read it to her. I see the indentation she left in her crib during her five-minute nap, and I think, “Hell YES! I am a Mommy! Finally!” I take it all in, the good and the bad, and I marvel that, at long last, I have everything I wanted.

Maybe this is something that every parent goes through, no matter how easily they became pregnant. We can never really know how we would feel if things had been different for us. All I know is that I may complain. I might have those days where I daydream about running away and drinking myself unconscious on a Mexican beach. I may even need to take a night off once in a while (like that’s even possible). But, I’ll bounce back. And then you might find me weeping for joy over prune stains, skipping a bag of diapers to the dumpster, or maybe dancing a little jig all covered in spit-up. Because I will never take for granted how grateful I am to be Charlotte’s mommy.


1 comment:

  1. "...the greatest thing that you never knew you wanted." How sage, grasshopper! And yet so true...