It’s been a year and a week since mini Gwinn 100% changed my life. That may sound dramatic to those without children (not to exclude you, but it is just really hard to fathom until it happens to you), but to the others in the parenthood ranks, you get it. The day you meet your little biscuit face to face is the day your perspective on everything changes.
When I was playing landlord to this little guy, I imagined what his personality was like. He kicked when I laughed, squirmed and wiggled nonstop when I laid down, and kicked Captain Laser Pants in the face when he laid his cheek on my belly. Back then I thought, “Wow, he’s an angry little sucker, just like his mama!” but now I know how wrong I was. He is the happiest baby I’ve ever met. The slightest tickle or funny face results in an eruption of delicious, angelic laughter. He never stops moving; he is infinitely curious about his surroundings and the faces he sees. Months after he was born, CLP told me a fear he had while I was baking mini Gwinn. He had read studies that proved the mental and emotional state of a mother while pregnant affected the baby’s physical and emotional health. He was concerned that our little bear would be somehow “off” because of my horrible mental state. Miraculously, he’s an incredible child, well adjusted, secure, and very, very funny. He has off days, just like all of us, but I feel so, so blessed to be raising such a precious little man.
This time last year we were struggling in every sense of the word. The exhaustion of taking care of a newborn (for those with family near you, you are so lucky!), the realization of the financial strain of going from two salaries to one, and reconciling the major changes my body had undergone (and would continue to undergo over the next nine months) made life, erm, difficult. The parents that have been kind enough to be honest with me confided that the first three months were just about surviving, and they couldn’t have been more correct. Captain Laser Pants was finishing the hardest semester of his college career (Calculus 2 and Physics, yuck), working long hours and coming home to a madhouse, with his wife as the chief lunatic. I was investing the stress and anxiety I had into running. Mini Gwinn liked being outside, even then, and I (shockingly) felt good enough to start a four mile run four weeks after I delivered our baby boy.
It’s intense for me to look back on those hard days. The emotion is still fresh, the memories aren’t rose colored. The nurses in the hospital told me I would forget how hard the pregnancy and the first few months would be, and with an easy delivery, I’d want more children, and soon. I laugh, even now, at the thought. Perhaps with “eager moms” (those that planned pregnancy, those that enjoyed pregnancy, those that have a normal body image, etc) the idea of having more children is a positive one. For me, the idea of stretching out over a 36+ week course, feeling gross and grossly sick for the majority of the pregnancy, and the immensely strenuous first three months just doesn’t seem worth it.
The wild part in all of this? Despite my strong feelings of not wanting more children, I have had several pregnancy dreams (not pleasant ones, but still) in the past month or so. It could be that many ladies I know are currently pregnant, or just that dumb biological clock ticking, but my subconscious mind is blowing my conscious mind. How a year has changed us. No more double chins, for one thing. But CLP and I seem so much stronger. I know that I am for sure, and not just emotionally. I feel more stable and more unstable all at once. I am strong for my son, and weakened by him. Rather, I am more vulnerable because of him. Give- a- thons for orphaned children make me cry. Scenes in Walking Dead make me cry. Once upon a time, I’d be critiquing the choices of the zombie apocalypse survivors, taking notes on survival tips. Now? I am emotionally involved, I’m putting CLP and I in the place of the main characters and fearing for our son if we had to live in a survival- type scenario.
Everything has changed.
This morning, while shopping with CLP and mini Gwinn, I jokingly asked my husband when I had gotten soft. We both laughed and he commented on the way parenthood has changed us both. I truly don’t mind 99% of the changes (belly skin pleats? I totally mind that). Being a mother has given me an entirely new strength in my life. While every woman has a different path in pregnancy, labor and raising her children, I will say that every good mother (not you, crack addicted mom. You should be shot in the face.) grows as a person in tremendous ways. The change you will experience over the first year will astound you. It certainly amazed me.