On Friday, February 20th, 2009, at 4:49pm, a new LAW was entered into the books. This LAW received only local recognition, with no ties to any political party. However, it is the most important, most controlling law of my life – my son. (Yes, his initials accidentally ended up being “law” and yes, we are attorneys, and yes, we realize the irony…)
My doubts melted away in a manner of instants. Wholly unprepared for this, I entered a small room with a bed, table, rocking chair, recliner chair, and many medical gizmos. I cried, screamed, and desperately begged for an epidural. I focused on ejecting this little alien from my body. Brief moments afterward, I found myself launched into a whole new world. Emotions I didn’t think could exist flowed through me. Meanwhile, I still couldn’t feel my feet. God bless drugs.
I find myself treading emotional water. The first night in the hospital, I had me some grand plans. I intended to have the baby taken to the nursery, and from there, I would sleep one of the last good sleeps for a while. We called family; they came, visited, cooed. Exhausted, I requested that he be taken to the nursery. Adrenaline flowing through me, I sat awake. I emailed from my phone. I contacted students to tell them that class would be going online for the coming weeks. I contacted people and responded to congratulations. I prepared for what I hoped would be a restful night after the physical and mental exertion of the day. I found myself wondering about my son. I waddled to the nursery, gazed through the window like a visitor, and waddled back to my room. I tried to sleep. I tossed. Turned. Emailed some more. Checked my Facebook. Finally, I dozed for a few hours. However, I couldn’t stay asleep. Around 5am, I finally called to have my son brought back to me. Confused, I realized that the reason I could not sleep lay in the fact that he was away from me.
Wholly unprepared, I tell you. I looked at him, afraid to pick him up. I watched him. I actually thought of asking the nurse if it was ok if I fed him when he looked hungry. Then I realized that they would just laugh at me. I fed my son for the first time. I put him in the bed with me and held him. Wholly unprepared.
Visitors came. Visitors went. I found myself keyed up. Paying attention to every movement of my son. Looking at him for any signs of discomfort. Astounded that this little person belonged to me. I wanted to touch him, hold him, hug him, kiss him. I couldn’t get enough of him. He was like a drug. Powerful. Controlling. Gut wrenching. Mind numbing. Wholly unprepared, I tell you.
Again, I had the nurse take him away. I accepted the proferred sleeping pill to help me fall asleep. That night I managed six hours before waking and calling to have him brought back to me. I took him out of the bassinet. I held him. Stared at him. Wondered at him. Suddenly, I found my mind wandering. Thirty years from now, he will be the one who is a father. I will be in the position of my mother and mother-in-law, watching as the next generation is born. I looked at him and realized that this emotion was love. Not romantic love. Not platonic love. This love is…weird. It is powerful yet almost insidious. I looked down at my son. I began to feel this obsession about him. Not the unhealthy, boil a bunny type of obsession. The type where you find yourself wholly focused on the object in front of you, fascinated yet frightened, amazed yet giddy, awed yet proud. I realized, staring at my son, less than thirty-six hours old, that he will break my heart. This pain is inevitable. He will outgrow me. This intensity will never fade on my part. I realize this. I also realize that some day he will not need me, will not require me for things. This is and will be my goal as a parent. That does not make the reality less frightening in its own right.
Wholly unprepared, I look at myself. My vision of the mother I thought I would be and the mother that I find myself to be are not the same. This intensity is so great that I find that I am unsure as to who or what I am in some ways. I viewed myself as a certain type of mother. The cool mom. The kind of mom who, while obviously devoted to her child, also recognized her own independence. I find that while still myself, I am a newer version. A 2.0, if you will. I now fear that I will be too intense in my feelings for my child. I fear that instead of being independent, I will smother. I fear that in trying not to smother, I will be distant. These were never concerns I had. These were never thoughts that crossed my mind in all of the things I worried about prior to giving birth. Wholly unprepared, I tell you.
Thus, with this new rite of passage, I find myself surrounded, smothered, and liberated by emotions I did not know existed. I find myself conforming to this new LAW and thrilled to be ruled by him. I find myself happier, and more frightened, than I have ever been in my life. However, I look forward to following the rules of this LAW and am proud to say that I passed this new LAW into the world.