The “terrible twos” are upon us! Well, anyhow, that’s what we hear every time we walk out the front door. In reality, the “terrible twos” started back in August, when you were just 18 months-old. It was almost as if the moment you turned 18 months-old, our world was jerked upside down. You started to dance, to have opinions, to play with other children, to take your first steps away from me and into yourself. Our world was turned upside down and mommy’s head came out of the dirt and was popped into a big beam of sunshine.
To be honest, our first months together were rough, Eva. Even from the very first moments everything seemed to be wrong. Not how I ever imagined it. You came into the world via emergency cesarian section and, well, you know that ubiquitous image of a baby’s first moment on the outside- that image of a newborn being coddled by her ecstatically happy mother? That image that is shown throughout the world to symbolize a child’s sweet entrance into the world? It haunts me every time I see it. Dada was the first to hold you, not me, and it was only hours later when I came out of the recovery room that I was able to grasp you in my arms for the first time. I don’t remember it.
The next few days were marked by extreme pain as mommy was unable to take painkillers. They would lay you on my chest in an effort to have you feed. It was supposed to come naturally. But you wouldn’t latch. You lost weight. You cried inconsolably. It was terrifying. We stuck with it, though, darling, and by the time you were a wee four months-old you were latching without the assistance of medieval mommy-torture devices.
Speaking of four months-old, this was about the time that mommy was suffering her fourth bout of mastitis, which landed mommy a nice overnight hospital stay as her fever had spiked to just short of 105 degrees. I came home the next night and cried and cried until there were no tears left to cry. You were four months old, but you were still colicky. Despite constant illness and the immense need to rest, we were still breastfeeding and you were still crying five to six hours every day and mommy was still only sleeping just a few short spurts throughout day and night. My first months with you, darling, were the most challenging of my entire life.
These first months were so challenging because I couldn’t let go of that feeling that I loved you more than I loved myself. I couldn’t stop breastfeeding, even though it was a major compromise to my own health, because I knew it was best for you. My heart screamed when you couldn’t be consoled, not because I felt like a failure, but because I knew you were hurting and I wanted so badly for it to stop. And, sure, ok, I’ll admit it. Hearing a baby scream for five hours straight can drive even the most patient and loving mom straight to the psychiatric ward.
There were other ways, too, that our experience diverged from the “norm.” Unlike what seems like the sentiments of every mother on the planet, I couldn’t wait for you to grow older. I became ecstatic at the image in my mind of you taking your first steps. I felt overjoyed by the prospect of watching you hold hands with your first friend. I even became overwhelmingly excited when I would envision us later in life: dwindling down our separate paths but remaining the best of friends. Even from the moment I learned of your existence in my womb, I never saw you as a part of me, but instead a very
little person that would grow alongside me. And I couldn’t wait to be a part of your life every step of the way.
Your second birthday is rapidly approaching in just five short days. You are starting to make your own choices in so many exciting ways: from matching orange-striped shirts with red polka dot pants to demanding macaroni and cheese at breakfast (who could blame you, kid) and mommy is beginning to feel those overwhelming “joys of motherhood,” albeit a bit late. I find myself soaked in pride every time you learn a new word. When I go to kiss you goodbye at nursery school and you just say, “bye bye mama!” without even giving me a glance, a smile spreads so wide over my face at the joys of your growing independence.
A friend and fellow mommy-blogger, Jenny Studenroth Gerson, recently wrote an incredibly moving account of her very joyous first few months of motherhood, called “They Should’ve Warned Me.” As I read it, I first felt a bit sad that my experience was not much like hers, but then it hit me. My experience was exactly like hers. But, for me, it just happened one quick year down this wonderfully rocky road.
Happy birthday, love. May this year bring even more joys than the last.
With Pride and Joy,