When I was preparing myself for the arrival of my first child, I read somewhere in a book, “The first few days are a time to readjust to your new life and because everything is unknown, it’s important to realise you may feel overwhelmed at times.”
Um…are you joking?
From where I sit now, with a baby in my arms, hardly a minute to myself and some very severe circles under my eyes, all I can do to understand why you would say that to me is to ask you this, oh Book-of-Guidance.
Why would you lie to me?
Why would you not, after the typing of that sentence add a Please Note, and why wouldn’t that Please Note say something along the lines of this:
Please be aware that the before-mentioned sentence may be, sorry to scare you, a dramatic understatement. You won’t be overwhelmed at times, you will be overwhelmed a lot of the time. Constantly.
You will swing between ecstasy and agony. And all before breakfast.
The first night you arrive home, you will be waiting for Child Services to knock on your door and take her away, giving her to someone more qualified, more comfortable, more mother-ish.
The first time you drift off to sleep, you will startle yourself awake and rush to the bassinette to check that she is still alive, and then stumble back into bed wondering if you will ever be able to sleep again.
Initially, you will clutch onto Joel for dear life and beg him not to leave you alone because WE DID THIS TOGETHER AND THERE IS NO WAY I AM SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING THIS LITTLE CREATURE ALIVE.
You will suck in a deep breath at the strangeness of it all and you will get to know that the Sleep Deprived Rachel is not the Mother Goddess Rachel you were hoping you’d turn into.
Your body still will not be returned to you, and as you feed every hour on the hour, a seriousness will set in as you realise, like my friend Mel would say, this puppy is permanent.
Your days will blend into your nights and the world will feel like one big Twilight Zone.
You will dread the cry of your baby when you can’t figure out what is wrong with her and your heart will break right open when she, helpless and vulnerable, needs you but you don’t know what for.
You will fumble and cry and whisper and lie there stunned, inadequate, infatuated, exhausted.
But Most Of All, you will look at your baby with a fear that you are Not Enough.
You will look at her with the deepest of love and you will fear the realisation that you will, now, forever be Vulnerable.
Because a love so great is scary. A love so great opens your heart right open where forever it will go walking around outside your body with nothing to protect it. A love so great strips you to a place where you are capable of feeling the highest of euphoria and the darkest of pain should anything “bad” happen to her. You feel what she feels. You know her like no one else does.
And through the Rollercoaster Of Your Insides, you will find yourself in A Moment. Staring at her.
Her Innocence. Her Beauty. Her Vulnerability. Her Mystery.
And you will think, my God, I love her.
That, my friend, is what the first few days will be like. Sorry to scare you. You’ll be fine though. Breastfeeding VS Bottle Feeding up next. Get your highlighters ready.