This little baby boy of mine has changed me forever. He was born in November 2018, after a comfortable labour, with just myself, my husband, and our angel of a midwife in the room.
Having a girl was somehow easy for me. Loving her, my first born, was instant, easy, and natural, from the first moment. I trusted my instincts, followed her cues, and trusted her to cry when she needed to communicate something to me. I knew when she needed milk, sleep, cuddles, attention, and reassurance. She would signal a need, I would respond, and she would carry on, content and happy. We worked together brilliantly.
But Boy, Oh Boy…
This beautiful boy of mine, my second child, threw my confidence out the door from the moment he arrived. After spending his first 5 nights on Earth in the NICU, he finally came home. And cried. And cried. And cried. After about 3 months, he cried a little less, but still wouldn’t melt into me when I tried to hold or soothe him. It felt like he was constantly needing me, but then fighting me when I tried to help.
I felt frustrated, irritated, resentful, and robbed of the beautiful newborn period I had envisioned. I didn’t understand him, why he was crying, or why he wouldn’t let me console him.
Breastfeeding was a struggle, every single time. My feelings for and about this little helpless baby was all over the place. I felt so sorry for him. It broke my heart to see him struggle, clearly uncomfortable and agitated. My inability to help him at times terrified me. I did love him, of course, but not as intensely and unwaveringly as I had hoped or anticipated.
His ignorance of my expectations and limits just shone the light on my flaws, mercilessly putting them on display. He wouldn’t let up. My discomfort with his discomfort did not in any way persuade him to tone down how unhappy he was. He just kept on showing me in every way he could, that he was struggling – and I just felt like there was nothing I could do to help. I tried everything, and most of the time, I was unsuccessful.
Truth? The whole situation made me feel incompetent, out of control, and hopeless. Another truth? I hated feeling that way, and blamed him. I resented the fact that he made me aware of how much I still had to figure out and learn. I hated that I felt so obviously, glaringly, not enough.
It gets better – and we grow
But now… he has taught me so much.
He has taught me that I don’t know everything. Humility.
He has taught me that there is always room to grow. There is always more to learn. There is beauty in growing and figuring it out together. I know now, more than ever, that growth is uncomfortable, takes time and effort, and comes at you whether you are ready or not.
He has taught me that in the past my love came with strings – if I hold and sway and feed and console you, then you have to calm down as expected. If you don’t you’ll be faced with disapproval, irritation, frustration, and yes, resentment.
We seem to have expectations of babies, from the moment they get here, to behave. To conduct themselves according to socially accepted norms. You cry, I console, you calm down. The truth is that it doesn’t always work that way. We do not get to expect anything from babies, and even from toddlers.
We are the adults, the grown ups. WE give. We endure uncomfortable feelings and situations, WHILE REMAINING CALM, so that our babies can grow up knowing that we are the calm when the storm inside them becomes unbearable. Until the day when they, by our example, have matured and developed the capabilities to remain calm in the midst of their own storms. And then they get to be the calm in somebody else’s storm.
My Love Is Better Than Before
I have learned to love without expectations of specific results and behaviors.
I have learned to let go, and love, regardless of the other person’s reactions.
I love. You do you. I will love. I will be here – calm, steady, strong, your safe place.
I love this boy fiercely, intensely, and unconditionally. I love who he is, how he is, and how we are finding a unique, beautiful bond every day. I love how he is nothing I pictured, yet everything I needed, and more. I love how he has made me a better mother.
I honestly didn’t even intend for this post to be what it has now become. But the truth will set you free, and that is exactly what this child of mine has done.
Coincidence that his name, in Hebrew, means TRUTH?
Thank you, Emmett, my little truth bomb baby. Mama loves you to forever and back.