Hand him to me.
Hand the baby to me.
No, I don’t…
Really. You need to give him to me and just go lie down for a while.
So, I did.
As she looked steadily into my wild, panicked, devastated eyes, I handed my mother-in-law my tiny, baby boy. My crying, unhappy baby. My miserable, colicky, life-changing, impossible-to-please, horrible, nasty baby. My baby who, at least at that moment, I couldn’t be around for one second longer. Shouldn’t be around for one second longer. And she knew it.
I gave her my baby. And then, alone (very, very alone) I went upstairs.
I lay in my bed and, through my silent tears, listened. I listened as she spoke to him quietly. As she paced the house soothing him.
Predictably, he responded to her calm and slowly….slowly…slowly…he stopped shrieking and became the contented child I didn’t know at all. The contented, happy child I clearly didn’t deserve.
Because she, unlike me, was a Mom. She knew how to be a real Mom.
And, all I knew was how to be afraid.
Afraid that Husband and I had made the biggest mistake of our lives in having this child.
Afraid that this child, who clearly hated me, was slowly succeeding in ensuring the feeling was mutual.
Afraid that, in the most important undertaking of my life (of anyone’s life), I was nothing but a failure.
I was failing my baby. And, he knew it. The little bastard knew it.
In hindsight, of course, it all looks so clear. My sickness. Postpartum depression. My OCD personality devastated by complete lack of control after childbirth. I was a mess. But, I was lucky to have help from my mother-in-law and from my own mother (not to mention my incredibly patient Husband) as we all muddled through it without any professional help. Without recognizing overtly that I was, in fact, not “right”.
When the baby was about two weeks old, his pediatrician told me not to worry. That the colic would likely not last beyond six weeks. That he’d be alright.
It sounded like an eternity. Another month of this?
He’ll be alright? What about me?
I was pretty sure we’d both never make it.
Today, when friends ask me (real friends, at least) to wax poetic about all the joys they can expect of their impending motherhood, I’m usually honest. Because, let’s face it, most people aren’t honest.
It’s really, really hard. Really hard. Don’t be afraid if you don’t feel the way you think you should be feeling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to admit it sucks sometimes. Call me. I’ll understand. I understand that sometimes it isn’t one bit easy.
But, I also understand that babies are the single greatest blessing (and I don’t use that word easily) ever given to any of us. And that parenthood is, ultimately, worth every struggle, every tear, every feeling of utter failure.
Because, one day, he’ll fall asleep snuggled up atop your heart and you’ll feel his silky hair brushing against your chin.
And then, not too long after, he’ll give a happy, crooked smile at the sight of your face.
And, one day, he’ll look up at you and he’ll call you “Mommy”. And you’ll feel the depth of what that title means.
And you can’t possibly imagine how you ever lived without him.