When I was pregnant, I read so many accounts from first-time moms about how it took a few months to truly feel love for their child — that one day, they just looked down at their baby and felt this inexplicable, unconditional bond.
Blah, blah, blah.
After Leon came home, I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know if I’d ever feel that sort of love for him. I spent several nights Googling “when does having a newborn get easier” and poring over the forum threads in the search results. I knew I loved my baby based on my reaction to him spending time in the NICU; he was fragile and innocent and didn’t deserve to be sick. And part of me was excited that he was finally here. But there was definitely a part of me that was resentful of the fact that I now had just a few minutes to stuff a sandwich down with my left hand while bouncing and swaying him in the carrier. That after struggling through a painful feeding, I had limited time to pee, shower, nap, or do anything before we’d have to wrestle through it again. That I would be so sore — not just from my c-section, but from mastitis, cracked nipples, strained neck muscles, constipation, clogged ducts, etc. That I would go days without venturing outside, but the effort required to get Leon ready (combined with the fear of a public meltdown) made leaving the house completely unappealing. That I would be so tired I would literally hallucinate and forget where I put my child.
I knew having a baby would be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard.
But week by week, and before I could even make sense of everything, it started to get easier. Leon still eats a lot, obviously, but we don’t have latching issues anymore. I love seeing him smile when he realizes he’s about to get food, and my heart melts when he puts his hand on my chest like he’s clutching a bottle. He’s more content entertaining himself, so I can put him in his swing or sit-me-up chair and he’ll coo and gnaw on his fingers while I eat (he even sits in his high chair while Minh and I eat dinner each night). And he’s usually sleeping 6 to 8 hours in one stretch (according to my Fitbit, I got more than 10.5 hours of sleep last night).
Sure, doing extra laundry still sucks, and washing a million bottles every night is pretty much the bane of my existence. But now, the hard parts are a different kind of hard. Now, I worry about if he’s stimulated and/or held enough (seriously, the mom guilt is real). I fret about tummy bugs and unvaccinated children (and whether or not I’ll turn him into a germophobe because of my overreaction about it). My mind races every time I wake up before he does.
There’s still a lot I have to learn about Leon’s personality — what’s his favorite hobby, does he like sports, is he creative — and I can’t wait. My favorite part of the day is picking him up from daycare and getting photos with a report of what he did that day. He’s my go-to conversation topic at work, which I’m sure is super boring to my coworkers but he’s just. so. perfect. When he unexpectedly falls asleep for the night at 7:45 p.m., I find myself disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to play with him much or give him a bath. His personality grows every day, and I’m excited to be an impressionable part of it.
It’s scary to love someone unconditionally. It’s scary to NOT CARE that I don’t have time to run anymore despite wanting to get back into shape, that I carve time out of my day to sit by a machine and be pumped like a cow so he can exclusively drink breastmilk, that the skin on my stomach isn’t as firm as it used to be because I hauled around his big-ass head for 39 weeks, that I wake up earlier so I can be the one to take him to daycare because I want to see him as much as possible before I go to work. It’s scary that I don’t care about those things because Leon deserves to be as healthy as possible and know that he’s loved. It’s scary that I might do all these things and he might still end up being an asshole, but hey.
So to the families expecting or those in the thick of it: I’ll save you a Google search. It does get easier. And I’m not that far out from the newborn boot-camp, so maybe we’re just going through an “easy” phase right now — but whatever, I’ll take it.