It’s funny how when things happen to people close to you, memories that otherwise seem buried can reappear with clear detail and strong emotion.
This morning, my sister-in-law had her first baby.
And I wept.
Because it took me back to when I gave birth to James, my precious son. I remember the toll of the hard labor. I remember the relief that washed over me physically and spiritually when I felt him come out and heard him take his first choking breath. I remember the utter joy. Joy that brings me to tears.
Then I remember the fear. The fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of harm coming to my child.
Then I remember the smiles and hugs of people that love us.
Then I remember the lack of sleep and the sore nipples and the unrealistic expectation to rest when the baby rests… As if I would/could stop watching him breathe!
I remember the absolute devotion my husband showed the both of us. He was there during the entire labor and delivery. He held one leg back with one hand and my barf bag with the other. He looked at me, an oxygen mask over my face, with such kindness and love. And I don’t remember this detail for sure, but I think he said something like “you did it, babe” when James was born. I was still his babe.
At home, when I undressed for the shower and had blood running down my legs and onto the floor and bath ledge, he didn’t flinch. He just wiped it up. Asked me if he could do anything to help.
I remember the midnight, 2am, 4am, 6am stress of trying to keep our baby quiet in our little one bedroom apartment. But when inevitably my husband did wake up, usually in a very tentative and loving way, he’d ask what he could do, but in my desperation of knowing the answer was nothing – I’d just snap back at him… I remember not being proud of some of those moments.
I remember my first car outing with James by myself. Talk about terrified. I remember being proud that I made it out, though, not only to a work happy hour with Jacob’s company, but that I was (relatively) clean and nice-smelling, enjoying company at a wine bar, breast feeding in public (gasp!) and changing James’ diaper in an ill-equipped bathroom. He was 13 days old.
After that I felt like I could do anything.
And yet, I also remember feeling grateful to have learned these lessons (and so many others!) on my own, so I try to remember to not just blurt out advice, counter a friend’s story with my own, or tell people what they should try/do/be. I try to listen and let them learn their lessons, too. Remember and rejoice in their little victories and fond memories. Cheer them on!
All I can hope for my sis and all new moms out there is that they do their best to remember every moment. Even the bad ones. Just remember.
Because it’s all over before you can truly appreciate it.