The past 18 months have been a fantastic journey with ups and downs, some successes and some failures. I admit that I did not really know what to expect from motherhood. After I found out about my fertility issues, I completely avoided children (as much as possible) for a very long time. Maybe it was this or maybe I really do have less "mothering" instinct than others, for mothering did not come easily or naturally to me.
Don't get me wrong. I love P with all of my heart and am so grateful that we were finally blessed with a child of our own. It's just that I don't always feel like I know what I am supposed to do, or how I should handle a particular situation, and am awed by those mothers that do.
I know that mothering actually does not come easily for everyone. And some of those "natural" mothers have confided in me that they really don't have a clue either half the time. Like many things, it comes with time. I feel much more like a mother than I once did. Little P is pretty happy and healthy, so I think that I might actually be good at too ;)
Early on it was pretty tough. But let's be honest - it's tough for everyone. You suddenly have a defenseless creature that needs you and only you to survive, that only sleeps for short periods of time and at odd hours and needs to eat nearly constantly. That's a lot to take in.
I think that I saw the bleary-eyed parents of newborns before, but maybe I just didn't notice them. Or, I thought that maybe they were just working or partying too hard. I had heard the complaints about being a new parent, but just never really took them in. In my defense, I honestly never thought I actually was going to be a parent the way that our infertility journey was going.
Now I understand. I see the "walking dead". The bleary-eyed, exhausted people who are running on a few hours of sleep - if they are lucky. I see them and nod with understanding.
To be fair. We were pretty lucky. P was a very healthy baby. He had jaundice when he was born, but it cleared up with regular feedings. He did actually sleep pretty well (for a newborn), had no congenital birth defects or conditions, and was a good eater.
The feedings were pretty tough at first in that I tried to induce lactation. I thought it would be a way to help me bond with P and that it would help to heal that I was not able to carry P myself. No matter how much I pumped, or ate oatmeal, or took supplements, I just did not produce milk. The most I could do was 1 ounce a day - even after P was born.
I tried a supplemental nursing system. That was a huge pain. It was hard on me and hard on P. I lasted about a week. Mark was great. He helped to keep encouraging me and even went to the lactation consultant with me. We got a special nursing pillow and he helped me with holding P the right way and latching. I wanted to give up a few times, but Mark kept me going.
Then, about 3 in the morning, I came into the bedroom absolutely distraught. I was crying and holding P. I had been trying to get P to nurse for about an hour and it just was not working. Mark wiped my tears, looked me straight in the eyes and said: "I will go and get a bottle". And I knew it was the best and right thing to do.
Even I was not a milk producer, thankfully other people are. We were able to secure enough donor milk from our GC and a wonderful family to keep P on breast milk until he was a year old.
Things did get easier. P started to sleep, so we started to sleep. He grew and started hitting his milestones. One day, he could hold up his head, then he could roll over. Suddenly he started crawling. Then, after months of scooting around furniture, he took his first steps. Now we can barely keep up with him.
P became more and more fun as he grew. Interacting with him melts my heart. He gives us hugs and runs to greet us when we pick him up from daycare. He can even start to tell us what he wants! (As long as it is a banana or "nana" as P likes to say). It is pretty amazing what new things he can do from day to day.
I try not to blink as I might miss something along the way.
The journey to get here has had its ups and downs, but the destination has been worth the trip.