I cannot believe my little Emmie is one month today. As I write this, I think of all the moms before me who have posted the same statement on Facebook every month of their children's lives…."I can't believe my baby is one month/four months/six months/5 years old." The feeling I have today, as I realize that it's been a whole month since I gave birth to my sweet angel, is exactly the feeling I began thinking about at the end of my pregnancy—the letting go that comes with being a mother is so hard. I remember holding my brand new baby in the hospital, staring at her for hours, refusing to sleep perchance I miss a second of her life, thinking "ok, I'm still ok, she's only 2 days old, that's still 'new', she's still my baby." I sat there wanting to hold on to that moment forever, wanting to never have to utter the phrase "I can't believe my baby is X months/years old." But, there's a complication: it's also so incredibly exciting to watch Emmie grow and change.
Part of me is constantly waiting, with overwhelming anticipation, to see who she becomes today….and tomorrow….and next week/month/year/decade. As much as I want her silky newborn fuzz to always decorate the top of her tiny head, I'm so curious to see what color her hair will end up being. Will is be curly like mine? Or straight like her daddy's? As much as I cry over how cute her 4 chins are and wonder if she's storing nuts in those enormous cheeks of hers, I am dying to know what bone structure lies underneath all that baby padding. And then there's her personality. How will her loud, brutish, full-body nursing style manifest in an adult characteristic? Will her delicate, girly coos give way to a soft, gentle demeanor?
This is the thing about motherhood: it fills your heart to the brim and beyond, yet breaks your heart at the same time. It's a growing intimacy and bond yet an overwhelming letting go. Two women in my life have put this into words rather well. My sister-in-law has described mothering her first born as "being so excited to meet the new Lila every day, but always mourning the Lila from the day before." And my wonderful doula has said:
I read somewhere once, long before I became a doula,
that motherhood is a long, slow, letting go.
First, of our bodies; then of the selves we knew before;
then we lose control of ourselves in labor, surrendering to the power of birth;
we let them out of us and into their own bodies.
Later they learn to move and we let them off of our chests
and out of the slings; out of our beds;
then later off of our breasts and out into the great wide world.
And on and on for the rest of our lives.
Bittersweet this mothering is.
Meanwhile, I have a new dogwood tree sitting in my backyard waiting to be planted, but I feel incapable of putting it in the ground, because that means letting go of my baby's placenta, which is currently sitting in my freezer, but whose permanent home is below said tree. My husband cannot get past the fact that a placenta is "just a hunk of meat," while I cry over it being called "just a hunk of meat." I feel so attached to that placenta, in a way I cannot explain, in a way that only a mother might understand. It connected me to my baby, and connected my baby to me. It symbolizes the deepest level of intimacy I've ever experienced with another human being. I tear up when I think of that placenta, knowing that the memory of the time my baby spent in the womb will quickly fade for her, but will always be so dear and vivid to me. I don't feel ready to let that go. And that means keeping an organ in my freezer. And maybe that's disturbing to some people, my husband included. But, I'm not ready. I don't think I ever will be.
But, back to Emerson. She is one month old today and has changed so much already! This girl is so well-developed and alert. I've never really felt like she was a newborn. She came into the world with her eyes open and immediately engaged in long gazes and a love for conversation. She's been interacting with us—cooing, grunting, squealing, squeaking—from about the second week, which has been blowing our minds. She loves to listen to her daddy sing for hours every day and tries to chime in with little "goos" and "gaas." She hates getting dressed and hates when I put my boobs away (she likes to always have the option of throwing herself on one if the mood strikes her, naturally). She is so darn cute and sweet, I can't even cope. I just die when she smiles at me. And when I wake up in the morning to find her nuzzled up to me, one hand on my breast, staring at me? I die. She is rarely more than a few feet away from her mama, although most of the time she is directly on top of me. She's definitely a fan of physical contact, which I must say melts me because I get to enjoy her warm snuggles and sweet baby smell constantly, but it is also overwhelming. In fact, "overwhelming" is the perfect word to describe the first few weeks of life with a baby. I will have to write a separate post on that….the reality I wish I could've been prepared for, but know is impossible to be prepared for.
The next part of my birth story will be posted tomorrow! For now, enjoy a whole lotta Emerson (who, I admit, I am still calling "baby girl" like I did during pregnancy when her name was a secret….I'm pretty sure she's going to think "baby girl" is her name for the first few years).
|Our first night together.|
|Going home from the hospital.|
|Weighing in at 8 lbs 1 oz at 5 days old|
|First bath…it did not go well.|
|Rocking out with daddy.|
|She has been holding her head up pretty much |
since she was born.
How is this happening?
|And bearing weight on her legs. |
I don't think she knows she's
only 1 month old.