I guess I didn’t really know what to expect. I mean, I read the books, scoured the blogs, and asked (what I thought were) the right questions. On paper, I was at least somewhat prepared for parenthood and felt cautiously optimistic about the road ahead.
As it turns out, attempting to prepare for parenthood is akin to buying a helmet in anticipation of Armageddon.
Our plans for the weekend of January 9th included taking down Christmas, packing hospital bags, installing the car seat, cleaning the house and washing baby clothes. I was 37 weeks pregnant and wanted to have everything ready to go prior to my scheduled C-section two weeks later.
Side note: Waiting till 37 weeks to do critical baby prep was obviously a terrible idea, but the thought of going into labor early never really occurred to me. Lesson learned.
I rolled out of bed at 8:00 on Saturday the 9th and within one second of my feet touching the floor, my water broke. Because the baby was breech, ruptured membranes meant an urgent trip to the hospital. Cursing under my breath for not packing sooner, I blindly tossed my toothbrush, a phone charger, two headbands (??) and a sweatshirt into a bag. We arrived at the hospital 15 minutes later and I waddled to the labor and delivery triage desk.
“Hi, my husband called a few minutes ago. My water broke and the baby is breech. I’m 37 weeks.”
“You’re sure it was your water breaking?”
(As opposed to peeing my pants, I guess).
“Pretty sure. I’m leaking all over your floor right now.”
(This is when the gentleman behind me took two very slow steps back).
I was immediately admitted and prepped for surgery, and Catherine arrived in all her newborn glory at 10:04 am. Instead of indulging in my regular Saturday morning Target fix, I was on an operating table staring at a baby who looked every bit as bewildered as I felt.
“Is this really happening?” I hissed in Barry’s direction.
“It is, yes,” he whispered back.
In the days and weeks that followed, I struggled with coming to terms with motherhood. I loved my daughter, of course, but I was drowning in my emotions. I mourned the loss of my freedom, my body, and even my sense of identity. Recovering from the C-section was much harder than I anticipated, and I felt incredibly guilty for not feeling whatever it is a new mother was supposed to feel: butterflies, rainbows, warm fuzzies.
I cried a lot.
The logical part of my brain understood that I was strapped into a hormone-fueled emotional roller coaster (I hate roller coasters, by the way, hormone or otherwise) but that didn’t make what I was feeling any less real. Fortunately, baby Cate was easy on me. She demanded relatively little those first few weeks, and the haze started to lift around the one month mark.
I’m still very much adjusting to parenthood, and not a day goes by where I don’t question myself or feel an inexplicable twinge of sadness. However, the good far outweighs the bad these days and I no longer feel like I can’t catch my breath. Everyday is a new adventure, and I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to the ride.