I should warn the reader at the outset– this post is neither newsy nor rife with pictures. My day thus far has consisted of lots of nursing and holding Lucy, and I just finally showered as she succumbed to a nap at last (2:30 PM Rome time…), so there are no adventures to speak of. But my Lucy-induced home-bound-ness got me musing on motherhood in general, and my (brief) experience of it so far.
I think it’s probably a cliche, but one always hears parents say things like, “I fell in love with my baby the moment I set eyes on him/her!” Most birth videos show the crying parents the moment their tiny, screaming, slippery babe is presented to them. I’ll admit, I would get slightly choked up at some of the birth videos I watched, but when Lucy was born, I was more surprised and relieved and triumphant than anything else, and there were no tears, from either of her parents. Probably partly due to the fact that we’d only had about 2 hours to really wrap our minds around the fact that she was arriving that day, and one of those hours was spent pushing her into this world. I didn’t have a long, drawn-out, traumatic labor, thanks be to God, so perhaps the emotions we felt were tied to that reality.
It may sound cold and very un-parent-like, but I can’t say it was “love at first sight” when Lucy was born, at least not the emotional high that is implied in that phrase. What I felt was joy, elation at seeing her little face, utter relief that she was safely born, and a sense of awe that she was here, and that we were now charged with the care of this tiny, wrinkled human, no longer safely nestled and quiet in my womb. Everything was just so new, and wonder-filled, and Lucy was a little person we would have to become better acquainted with, this side of the womb. Of course we loved her. We’d loved her into existence, after all. But for the first few weeks of her life, those strange, sleep-deprived, sometimes frightening weeks, I would look at her and feel like I was babysitting someone’s adorable newborn. It took a little while for her to feel like she was mine. Almost the way it feels when you start dating someone whom you really like; you’re falling for him/her, but you’re still a bit tentative in the getting acquainted stage.
Over the last three months, I have found myself thinking about Lucy in this or that expression she makes or little quirk she’s developed, like the way her face changes as she slowly wakes up , her eyes blinking in the light, and her expression owl-like, as if the waking world has surprised her. Or her delicious chortle when she can’t take how happy she is to see one of us smiling at her and chokes on her own joy. I have realized that I’ll think of it and then feel such a powerful sense of connection to her and love for all that makes her who she is. And that love is because I know her. I know her facial expressions, and sounds, and erratic limb-motions, and (most of the time!) what will make her happy. It is, in every sense, a love that grows the more I know her as a person. I loved her from the start simply because, in Pieper’s words, it is good that she exists. Now, I love her because of the countless things I know of her– the good, the bad, and the smelly. It’s exciting to look forward to watching as she grows and becomes more able to communicate with us and reveal more fully the mystery of who she is. Sure, she wants to be held 75% of the day and hates her car-seat and makes me wait a few hours before I can wash the dishes (or my hair), but this phase will be short, and I’m just grateful for the time to get to know and love her all the better.