This post comes from guest blogger Monica Burrill, mother of two girls.
I knew I was in love at 3 in the morning.
She was crying again. I was so sleepy that my head was nodding and my eyes felt like they had been scratched by sandpaper, but I got up and plodded numbly to her room.
She was fussing in her crib with her newborn eyes still closed, and I picked her up and carried her to the well-worn rocking chair in the corner of the room. Relying on muscle memory, I maneuvered her into position and starting nursing. The crying stopped. I closed my eyes.
We had planned a home birth, but the labor went too long so we had to transfer to the hospital at 9 pm on that cold, rain-slick, October night two weeks ago. I eventually ended up in a gown under blinding fluorescent lights, being prepped for a C-section and wondering what had gone wrong. The surgery went well, but I was sick on the operating table and delusional by the time I was back in the room with my husband and baby. Overall, it was not the warm, candle-lit, love-filled birthing experience I had planned. Not even close.
The baby was healthy and nursed well, so we were released from the hospital before I had fully caught up on sleep. I got even less as the days went by and the baby proved colicky: red-faced and screaming from midnight to 3 am most nights. Zombie-like and slowly healing from major surgery, I stumbled around my daily tasks, trying to be showered and smiling for visitors, while wondering silently why anyone in their right mind would ever have a baby. I felt robbed by having an unexpected C-section, and when I didn’t feel bonded to the baby right away, I alternatively blamed her and myself. I was miserable, at a time when I should have been the most joyful.
The nursing stopped and I opened my eyes. The room was dimly lit by a night light that cast huge shadows on the ceiling and the rain drummed quietly on the roof. I looked down just in time to see the baby, my baby, look right into my eyes and slowly smile the most beatific smile I’ve ever seen. I knew at that moment that I was hooked for life, that no matter what I had to go through for this little miracle of a child, that I was all in. I knew then that the sleepless nights, the emotional and physical pain, the complete and total sacrifice of my life as I knew it, was suddenly unimportant in the face of the powerful bond between me and my child. I knew I was in love.
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