So This is What Love Feels Like?
Ya know, much has been written about the trials of motherhood. And I will certainly not dispute the exhaustion that comes from the repetition, and the managing, and the worrying, and the repetition, and the repeating of yourself. And as much as that is really a HUGE part of this process, lately it has taken a back seat to this un-freaking-believable feeling of love that I have for Ellie.
And it just keeps growing. So much so that I actually wonder how much more love my heart can hold without bursting.
My sister was kind enough to let me in on a very important secret before I had Ellie. “Don’t worry if you don’t fall in love with her immediately,” she said. “It takes time. I mean you will love her when she is born, but most of it will be instinct. Once you two get to know each other…well that is when you really fall in love with them. More and more each day.”
Intellectually, I understood what she was saying. It made sense. Love evolves, and deepens as you get to know someone. Although honestly, before she shared this with me, I wasn’t really aware that this could apply to the love between a parent and a child – but in my personal experience, it certainly has.
When Ellie was first born, I remember rolling over, or more like turning my head because the whole c-section thing makes it impossible to sleep on your stomach for a long while after you deliver, and I looked at Ellie and I was like, “Oh my god…there is a baby next to my bed!” The whole thing seemed a bit surreal. And, I know I have said it before, but I have some major regret because I didn’t soak it up and enjoy it.
In my defense, I was managing a lot of our personal situation – and try to get things in order. The picture below is actually worth a thousand words and needs no further description.
3 days after I had Ellie, my sister delivered my niece Reagan, and 3 weeks after that was Christmas and then New Years, and then claustrophobia inducing snow…throw in there was some really stressful other stuff that I had to manage, oh, and then I returned to work full-time.
Now at the time, I really thought I was enjoying motherhood. Or I thought, “Well this is what it is, so I mind as well enjoy it.” But right around Ellie’s First Birthday, I had a number of conversations with people close to me that pointed out that perhaps I was not really taking the time to smell the baby wash. Those conversations were punctuated by a trip to the emergency room with Ellie because she had a severe stomach virus and, after days of being sick, began throwing up blood. I called my parents and my sister and told them I knew this wasn’t normal and she wouldn’t stop throwing up long enough to get a cab, so I was calling an ambulance.
As I was holding Ellie in one arm, and trying to pack up her diaper bag with the free hand (of which I forgot to actually pack diapers), I remember looking into her little lethargic eyes and thinking, “I got this, okay? Mom is going to makes sure that you get what you need so you can feel better. It might just be me right now, and you might be throwing up every five feet as I walk around this apartment- but that’s fine. I am all over this.”
When we were sitting in the hospital, they put Ellie in this tiny little jonny coat and I got into the bed, and I placed her on my chest as the examined her and started an IV for dehydration and to quell the nausea. My parents arrived not long after we did, and they spend all night sitting up with us while Ellie got the meds she needed.
It was the first time since she had been born that we spent hours on end in that same position. Only this time, I was in the moment enough to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, and an uncontrollable sense of love for the child laying on my chest. I thanked god that we were only dealing with a nasty stomach bug, and I prayed for all of the parents and children who are dealing with much worse.
We were discharged from the hospital and my parents drove us home and got us settled, and we slept for most of the day. Ellie was still sick for a couple weeks more…but things began heading in the right direction. Looking back, I can say for sure, that this was the moment that I fell in love with Ellie. When we got home from the hospital, I suddenly realized, not only that I can do this, but that I am doing this. I finally stopped doubting myself, and wasting all of my energy constantly worrying about all the ways I could fail at being a single mom. When that dissipated, there was so much more room and energy for the love.
And it has been growing leaps and bounds since then. Not only does it fill my entire heart and mind now, but my heart and mind feel like they are about 20 times larger than they were before.
Which is why I think I love this photo so much…it’s one of the first ones where I can actually see that in my own eyes.