Would you stop growing so fast? Dude. You are freaking me out.
I left for the infamous Blogher conference on Friday. Jim was out of town and getting ready to leave for my trip whilst chasing Madge around proved to be a taxing endeavor indeed. I got her ready for her weekend of adoration, first by one grandmother and then the other. I said goodbye to my daughter in her car seat. She was wiggling and whining and looked at me like she didn’t know me from the mailman. She was cranky. I got no love at all. Walking through the double automatic doors at the airport I was surprised by the unexpected pang in my heart.
I had anticipated a gleeful rush of “Halle-freaking-lujah! I’m Free!!!! No diaper bag to lug! No atomic poopy butts to wipe! Woohoo! ”
Instead, I found it hard to breathe and my eyes stung with tears.
I was worried. What if she was confused by her new surroundings? What if the teeth she was cutting bothered her? What if her runny nose turned into a full fledged cold? What if she cried and cried and I wasn’t there to calm her down?
I was one of those people that just didn’t quite take to motherhood right out of the gates. I was awkward and didn’t feel right. I didn’t know this baby girl at all, and every time I went to retrieve her from her bassinette and found her trying to nurse the side of it I felt really weird and freaked out. What did she want from me? What did she need from me? I felt ashamed that I didn’t have a white-light experience the moment I became a mother. I didn’t hear a choir singing the hallelujah chorus the moment I first saw her. Frankly I felt panicky and anxious. I didn’t know what to do.
I remember a morning about a week after we got home from the hospital. I was trying to pump breast milk for her. I didn’t recognize my own body. I was attached to this milking machine and it felt really weird and icky. I sat, pumping and stared wistfully out the window at my neighbors. I watched them doing normal things like mow the lawn and bring groceries in. I thought to myself “How nice for them, to be so normal.” I wasn’t sure what I was feeling but I was sure it was not normal. I had a machine attached to my boobs and Maggie laid tiny in her crib like some Romanian orphan. It felt like my life was over.
I earnestly fulfilled all of my motherly duties with care and thoroughness. I made sure I did everything I was supposed to. In the back of my mind, I was terrified. I was scared out of my everloving mind that things would never feel right. I was afraid I would forever be this detached mom who was always forced and awkward. What if I could never distinguish a hungry cry from a cranky cry? What if my inability to feel in sync with her scarred for life? Would her relationship with her Dad be enough? I felt like everyone could tell I was struggling. I felt like a fraud. I felt like a horrible mother.
It didn’t change in a day. It actually took a few months. I don’t know if that’s bad, or if it comes as a shock to anyone, but it is the truth.
So, Friday morning I sat on the plane and cried real, surprising tears because I missed my daughter. I missed her so much it hurt. I was taken aback by the open floodgate of my own sadness, and by the overwhelming anxiety I had leaving her. It was oddly very reassuring. I am normal! Perhaps overly attached! Hooray! I am miserable!
Late afternoon at the blogher conference I saw a man holding a baby girl. I blinked and shook my head. It looked like my daughter. I STARED. I wanted to run across the room and get a closer look. No… It couldn’t possibly be….. It was the spitting image of Maggie. Hair, eyes, everything. It was surreal. I was afraid the man holding her would notice I was gaping and think I was some kind of mommystalker. I had to go over and see her close up after the final comments at the Blogher wrap up. No, it was not my daughter, but she DID look a lot like Maggie.
I got home Sunday night and crept into Maggie’s room to look at her as she slept. I stopped breathing for a moment and my stomach jumped. OH MY GOD WHO REPLACED MY LITTLE BABY WITH A 27 POUND ELEVEN MONTH OLD Who WALKS?? She looked HUGE. She was lying on her back with her arms sprawled out. She filled up half the crib. It was alarming how big she looked to me. I accidentally-on-purpose woke her up so I could hold her and rock her. My little amazon baby. I can’t remember anything ever feeling so good. Or right. Or perfect. EVER.