A friend of my husband had her baby girl yesterday. We went today to visit at the hospital and I had a lot of nostalgia for when Aerilyn was born. I know she’s only six months, and still such a little baby but I remember her being so helpless and fragile. The photographer came in to take pictures, and I watched our friend dress her in her outfit. It made me wonder to myself, “how did I ever do that with Aerilyn?” I was so unsure of myself, trying to put her little arms through the holes on her dress, afraid that I was going to hurt her. All she knew had just changed, she was torn from warmth and safety, pushed into a bright cold world. I know I loved her when I saw her but it was still so strange, looking at her after she came out. To know that she was inside me, one with me for one moment and then in the next a new little person suddenly who just wanted to be one with me again. It took a little to sink in for me I think. But I immediately wanted to comfort her, be skin to skin so she wouldn’t feel alone or cold any more.
Our friend had a cesarean. That’s how I was born as well, and I know lots of other women have had it. In fact, I know a few women who prefer it. But I feel like I was incredibly blessed with my birthing experience. I went in at midnight to be induced, started having real labor contractions at exactly 5 am, and gave birth to her at 9:07 am. I fought the pain medicine at first until I was shaking, and despite telling the nurse no she felt bad and gave it to me any way. I also fought the epidural as long as possible. I just wanted her to come out the way my body was made for her to. I would get up to go to the bathroom and sway my hips for as long as I could during the false contractions, trying to keep in touch with my body and Aerilyn. By the time I got my epidural, I had to start pushing because her heart rate was dropping. But she came out rather quickly, and I just remember her throwing her little arms up in the air, as if she’d scored some kind of victory and I had to smile.
I think the reason I had such a wonderful experience is because I was so in tune with my body and with Aerilyn. She was with me through so many painful, and gut wrenching times in my marriage. I would speak to her, beg her to please not feel my pain and sorrow. I would apologize to her, try to focus on how much I loved her. I did not want her to ever feel how badly I was hurting inside because of my husband, that was not her burden to bear. I also talked to her a lot, both aloud and mentally. I felt like she could hear me, even if I was just thinking to her. I would tell her about the things I would teach her and show her, how much I would love her, how smart and beautiful I knew she was going to be. I would lose myself in my love for her to escape the pain I was dealing with.
I loved the three months she spent sleeping in our bed with us. Everyone told me, “she’s going to be spoiled and you’ll never get her out of your bed”. We laughed, knowing they were full of it, that we had control over the situation. Breastfeeding was hard but never at night. I always went to sleep with my breast out for her, and her cuddled up to me, usually falling asleep nursing. The skin to skin contact I think is what has helped turn her into such a happy and sweet baby, along with the nursing of course. I feel like I’ve done a good job so far of meeting her needs, helping nourish her heart, body, and mind.
Now comes the scary part of this journey I suppose, she’s at the age where she has to learn what ‘no’ means because she is so curious. It’s hard for me, someone who has little patience, to hold back my frustrations. I’ve worked really hard at it tho, and I’m getting better. I just want to shape her into a good kid, because I was a good kid. I was the one who waited patiently until my parents could afford to buy me what I wanted, while my sister threw a fit. I was the one who owned up to my mistakes when confronted, because I didn’t want to lie to my parents. I’d like to believe my kind heart and good willed nature comes from my dad. I feel like it’s my duty to be that influence on Aerilyn, so that she will be a good person too. I also do not want to ever hurt her the way my mother hurt me, with her guilt trips and degradation.
I wouldn’t trade any of this for the world tho. Sometimes being a parent means dealing with frustrating things like potty training (not looking forward to that at all!), and having to ask family for help because you don’t have money for food, diapers, or much of anything else after you pay bills. It also means being responsible and putting someone else before yourself a lot of the time. None of that matters when you see something you’ve created and nurtured turn into a big ray of sunshine. The way they smile when you kiss them, or get excited to see you after you get home from work, or the way they laugh when you do the simplest of things. It’s a love that nothing can break, and it makes Aerilyn my rock in the waves of life.