Four years ago I thought I was fully prepared for labor, birth, motherhood, the whole shebang after working at a regional parenting publication, being a star student in my Bradley birthing class, quizzing other moms for parenting wisdom, and reading countless books about baby care and raising kids the right way. But from the moment I experienced my first painful contraction, I realized that being a mom is one job that requires on-the-job training. As a first-time preggo, then new mom, I knew diddly squat. I still don’t know much, but I’m learning a little more every day in the trenches.
Four years ago I told my midwife (not the same one I have now) that I felt the urge to push and she said I must be having dysfunctional labor (whatever that means) because I was only 1 cm a few hours before (my water broke early and we were able to decline the Pitocin, but they did want me admitted). About 30 minutes later I was pushing – I was later referred to as warp speed labor girl – and that was the first time I realized the power (and the truth) of a mom’s intuition. I’ve tried to trust my gut ever since.
Four years ago after only about 20 minutes of pushing (you can hate me for my quick, first-time labor – it’s okay) I was crying, holding my first baby, saying over and over, “Thank you, God. Thank you, God.” We have a short snippet of video footage filmed by my husband and the proud, new dad to prove it.
Four years ago I couldn’t conceive loving another child as much as I loved my Madeline. Now as I wait to welcome my third child into my arms, I know a mother’s love has no limits.
Four years ago I wondered if my infant’s eyes would turn dark brown like her daddy’s or blue-green like my own. They’re a lovely brown, but her hair is honey-hued like mine.
Four years ago I tried to imagine what my baby would look like as a toddler, a preschooler. Now I don’t have to imagine any longer – she’s growing up right before my eyes – but now I find myself wondering how her features will change when she’s a teenager, a young woman, a mom like me. I’ll have to wait and see, and I’m going to try to enjoy every moment of the wait because one thing I’ve definitely noticed as a mom is that the days can be long, but the years are short.
Four years ago I had a baby who didn’t sleep much. She still doesn’t, but I’ve learned to accept it and have stopped rehashing all the sleep advice I’ve been given and now just let sleepy girls and moms lie.
Four years ago a man at a restaurant peered at my roly-poly daughter who nursed almost every 45 minutes until she was at least six months and said, “Whoa! You’ve got a future linebacker on your hands. How much did he weigh when he was born?” She weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces, thank you very much.
Four years ago I let innocent but irksome comments from strangers get to me. Now my mom skin’s a whole lot thicker, and I usually just smile politely and file the remarks away as something to laugh (or blog) about.
Four years ago I sang to my baby while nursing her in the soft glow of the early morning or in the darkness of the night. She quit nursing at 22 months, but I still sing to her every day.
Four years ago I tried to envision what likes and dislikes my little girl would one day have. Now she makes it very clear. She likes sleepovers at the grandparents’, being outside, riding her bike, swimming, bug and frog catching, horses, playing hide and seek, story time, drawing, helping around the house, singing, the color blue, feta and chocolate (she’s a girl after my own heart). She doesn’t like sleep, wasting time to poop, peas, or Atlanta traffic (again, she’s a girl after my own heart as far as her aversion to traffic goes).
Four years ago I was worried I wouldn’t be a good mom. I still worry from time to time, but I’ve grown in confidence. I know that while I’m far from perfect and need God, my husband, and an occasional a strong cup of joe (when I’m not feeling nauseous), I’m doing just fine.
Four years ago I marveled at the fact that God had entrusted this beautiful child to me. With each new child and each new day as their mom, I keep on marveling.
Happy Fourth Birthday, Madeline!!! I can’t believe I’ve already had four years with you. I look forward to many, many more. I love you so much and thank God for you every day.