After giving birth, I felt like I could do anything. The first time it happened was so thrilling! The adrenaline that pumped through me made me want to jump out of that hospital bed and run through the halls. Move mountains? Sure. It was an all time high. But then the doctor discharged me and the pediatrician discharged my baby. I was standing there holding my beautiful bundle and the free diapers and hemorrhoid cream they let me take. I was told to go home and do everything myself. “But, I never had a baby before. What if I put it somewhere and forget where I put it?” The nurse reassured me that babies are not like car keys or cell phones. They let you know when they need something.
When I got home with her, I had no idea what I was in for. Of course I read all the books. I was already a pregnancy expert after signing up with every single baby site there was. I got weekly updates. I sat in Barnes and Noble and read any book I was able to find. At my doctor appointments I would talk about anything that came to mind - one of those things being an epidural. I openly told my doctor that I did not want an epidural. She looked at me kinda shocked and said “Are you sure about that Rebecca? Go into labor with an open mind so you don't get disappointed.” I scoffed at her. What did she know? I mean, she kinda was my doctor, but HAH! I knew much better. I read a book about it. Needless to say, after many hours of laboring and no progression, I was induced and had an epidural. Come on, I'm not a martyr. But the whole thing ended in an emergency c-section. I never read the c-section chapters. They weren't supposed to be for me.
My mother-in-law came to help me, then my mother. Then my mother-in-law sent my sister-in-law to help. Those were good times – except for the c-section part. But then they all left. The way I see myself and my husband back then is like watching two people fumble in the dark. We had no idea what we were doing. I didn't know what the rules were on anything baby related. I didn't know that after you give birth you give half your brain cells to your kid. So here I was constantly forgetting things like dishes, laundry, and showering. Mistakes. There were lots of those.
I used to think the cause of postpartum depression was trying to fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothes. Can you believe that I actually brought a pre-pregnancy skirt to the hospital to wear home?! I know, so stupid. I met a wise woman at a function I attended after giving birth. She saw me snacking on carrots and she asked how old my baby was. I told her she was just a few weeks old. She said, “I hope you're not making yourself crazy about dieting.” I looked at her and my eyes welled up. I told her that my clothes don't fit. Her response was, “So buy new clothes!” Genius! I bought new clothes.
Having a second daughter shortly after the first was quite the traumatic experience. Mostly because I had to learn all new mommy techniques. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't wait to have another baby because I wanted my dream birth to happen (which thankfully did). But, how was I supposed to take two kids to the store? In an attempt to figure it out, I went to the store. I put my newborn into the Baby Bjorn and my toddler into the cart. They were both fine. I wasn't. It was winter. I had my coat on, my purse on my shoulder, a baby on the front and a tall kid in the cart. The baby kept kvetching so I had to walk with a jump and somehow manage to hold her pacifier in while I tried to keep my purse on my shoulder and see over my toddlers head (I'm of the short variety). Stores are heated. The outside isn't. Where was I supposed to put my coat after I got in?
Now that my first born is seven, I have evolved. When I have young babies, I stay home during the day and save the food shopping for evening. Instead of food shopping being one of the many chores on my daytime To-Do list, it is now a time for me to peruse the aisles and zone out. Never in my life did I think that perusing the aisles at Wal-Mart would be like walking in an oasis. That reminds me of the time I was in the vegetable section deep in thought when the vegetable guy (you know the one who refills the crates?) saw me and said “Smile, it can't be that bad!” I looked at him and said, “Sir, I am making mental menus right now and concentrating on the fact that I have no children with me. Do you know how much concentration that takes?” I don't think he has children because he had no idea what I was talking about.
Evolving from the first kid to subsequent kids, in my opinion, makes for better parenting. With each kid comes learning experiences. I learned to patch up holes in the wall, repaint colored-on surfaces, super glue anything, know which cleaning products remove which stains, know that how long the kids have been quiet is an indicator of how much damage I can expect to find, remove cracked tile from the floor, fix a toilet, change a diaper with one hand while the kid is running away, and somehow manage to serve dinner on time.
Bottom line is, the first kid is thrilling and each kid after is even more thrilling. Watching each personality form from the moment I brought them home to listening to them fight with each other as they grow up, is priceless. But whats more thrilling is watching my own personality change over time. I'm not the same parent I was in the beginning (even though I refuse to believe that I have aged at all since I got married.) Mothers really can move mountains. We shift them a little more each day.