2018: lost & found
Updated: Jan 23, 2020
This was my first year ringing in the New Year with a baby in tow. We met up with friends who also have a baby (he and Vivi took turns pulling off each other's socks), ate nachos, and talked about God and politics. So, pretty much my ideal night.
But it went by so fast, in the same way 2018 went by so fast, and it got me thinking that I should spend some time reflecting on the year gone by instead of only looking forward to the year ahead. As I've reflected, A LOT of things have come to mind in terms of what I "lost" and "found" along the way.
What I lost: My "birth experience" expectations
During week 37 of pregnancy, my doctor discovered that Vivian was sitting upright and cross-legged after previously being in the right position. Surprised but unfazed, my doc promptly ended my examination with this question:
"When do you want to schedule your C-section?"
I stared back at her with wide eyes.
Jeff and I read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth and took extensive birth classes. Surgery was NOT part of the plan. (The plan was to hang out in a bathtub for as long as possible, then use the squat bar and push that baby out like a champion.) I was too freaked out to make any kind of decision at that moment, so I fled the doctor's office and called my sister. She said to try flipping the baby with some yoga. I also called my one of my best friends who's a doctor now and she said too bad so sad (not in those words, but basically.)
I tried everything, but Vivi didn't flip, so, with my dreams dashed, we picked her birthday, packed our bags, and arrived at the hospital at the crack of dawn. Within a few hours, I had my daughter in my arms, and everything else melted away for a while. Then the baby blues hit (a hormone dump that made me euphorically happy and overwhelmed at the same time), so I had to weather that storm (plus my stinging incision) with painkillers and long walks in the abnormally chilly April weather.
We made it, though. I'm thankful to God for a healthy baby, skilled doctors and nurses, and especially Jeff.
Some quick tips: If this scenario happens to you, don't freak out like I did. It's not ideal, but it's okay. Birthing a baby is full of unknowns, regardless of how you end up pulling it off, so there's no need to waste your time fretting over what you can't control. Also, if you can, try to leave the hospital as soon as possible. I felt SO MUCH BETTER when I was in my own house, in my own clothes, in my own bed, snuggling my baby.
What I found: The unmatched joy of motherhood
Being Vivian's mother is - by far - the most amazing thing I have ever done. I love her (and Jeff and my family) more than I realized was possible before we had her. Somehow my heart feels ten times bigger.
Motherhood definitely has its hard times and mundane moments, but everyday is filled with rays of sunshine. Whether it's listening to her babble at Jeff in the morning, or watching her try something new and smile up at me when she figures it out, or laughing as she eats pizza or guacamole with a big grin on her face - she is the definition of delight. Sometimes I just want to make time stop so I can spend a little extra time in these moments and live them over and over again.
Becoming a mom also flipped some important switches in my brain. Throughout most of my twenties, I was overly concerned about myself, my writing career, and whether or not people liked me and my work. It didn't feel shallow at the time, but now that I feel the full weight of my decisions because they affect someone else's life, I can't help but see how much I used to go with the crowd rather than be true to myself (because it was easier and made me more popular.)
Now, as a mom, I think things like, What would I want Vivian to do in this situation? What do I want to inspire in her through my example? Do I want her to be concerned about what people think of her faith or her politics or what she wants to say or write about? Or do I want her to learn that she can speak truthfully and boldly regardless of what other people insist she say and do? Am I modeling trendy shallowness or real depth?
Being Vivian's mom humbles and intimidates me because my life is bound up in hers now, and I want to raise a woman who thinks critically, speaks up about what's right regardless if it's popular, and is unafraid of standing apart from the crowd, even if the crowd seems impossibly big and loud sometimes. To raise that woman, I need to be that woman, and slowly but surely, Vivian is teaching me how.