And he is pretty strange. Well, mad. And hungry. And he looks like a frog. After nine months of preparation and worry with a giant human growing inside of you, you finally give birth and there is a teeny tiny baby looking all wobbly and upset waiting for you to know what to do with him. He arrives with his own set of needs and preferences. I find that so strange. How does someone so new have an opinion on seemingly everything? And how in the world did I not know how to solve his ailments intuitively? I felt every movement he made from the first second possible and I can't explain why he likes to sleep sitting up or has a mini panic attack if he isn't fed within 1 minute of waking. I guess all babies have the same basic needs but I am still getting used to the idea that I am the person who provides for those needs.
When Matt and I took the labor and delivery class offered by our hospital I remember the moment reality began to sink in. The nurse teaching the course was talking us through the different stages of labor (I suggest now they change the names of those stages as part of my new Honesty About Childbirth Initiative. Stage 1 shall now be called "I Can Probably Do This As Long As I Stay Calm", Stage 2 "Yeah, I'm Gonna Need Those Drugs You Kept Offering Earlier", and finally, Stage 3 "I Heard You. I Am Pushing. And If You're So Great At All This Why Don't You Get Up Here and Have This Damn Baby Yourself Cause I'm Going Home".) She began discussing Stage 2 she mentioned that now is when the real "discomfort" (their word) starts to kick in and "when the moms start getting a little upset". I remember thinking "why would my mom be upset? Ohhhh. You mean me, the mom. Oh shit. I'm gonna be a mom". And in the delivery room the midwife kept asking me if I was "afraid of the pain", which admittedly, I kind of was, but what I was really afraid of was the baby. I couldn't say as much because I couldn't talk at the time, but what I was thinking was "no, I'm terrified that if I keep pushing I am going to have a kid!" I really, really wanted to be done with the labor but the prospect of becoming a parent was enough for me to want to stall. A little.
I studied Early Childhood Education in college, have read about infant and fetal development extensively before I even thought about starting a family of my own, and worked in an early childhood center in the infant room. Also, I love my own mother with a cult-like devotion. Strangely, aside from my love for my own mother and my education providing all evidence to the contrary, I realize now I have been assuming I would have to earn my child's love. Like, if I mess up enough midnight feedings by being really annoyed at the fact that it's a midnight feeding, my baby is going to resent me and wind up with tattoos and run away to Alaska after sophomore year in college to write, but not well, and end up frozen to death in a van. Or go to business school and join the Young Republicans. But it doesn't work like that. When he is fussing and he hears my voice, it soothes him. Wild. He prefers my company and my solutions to his little poop-pants needs. I fix it. Me, just stupid old me who has been making a joke out of this whole thing for months now, is, by this guy's standards, doing the right things. He doesn't know any better. It took me a while to realize this, as I am primarily the one he is yelling at all day long, but I don't have to convince him of anything. I just have to be willing to let him nurse 22 hours a day and not mind terribly when he tries to pee on me (his aim is still a little weak). I have screwed up a lot in my life-- my completion rate of Things That Really Matter, sucks. I dropped the ball with college- all 3 times. I have been a waitress for a decade- just waiting for something to fall into my lap, I guess. Having a baby is the one thing I couldn't fail out of, couldn't not show up for. Now that I'm stuck with him, and he doesn't seem to mind that too much, I think its possible that I might just see this thing through. That's not to say he won't end up living with us well into his 30s while working on his "music career" out of a slap-dash recording studio in our garage that features a beer bottle pyramid, or working for Michele Bachmann's re-election campaign. But some things can't be helped.