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Holly’s Intro

My son and I when he was 3 months old.

“Mama?” my son says to me in the most desperate, pathetic voice possible.

“Yes, baby?” I ask.

“Maaa Maaaa…” he says again, holding his arms out to me, sounding even more desperate.

This scenario plays out at least a dozen times a day in our house. Of course, I always pick him up and he communicates to me what he wants. Without words, though, because he’s not quite talking yet.

Before having my baby, I couldn’t imagine myself as a “mama.” I was hardly the mom type. I was pretty self absorbed, and I could only really picture myself in my future. My education. My career. My husband. My dog. My travels… I wasn’t exactly sure how a baby would fit into the picture, but I figured he would fit in there somewhere.

Then I had him and he turned my life upside down.  Suddenly, I couldn’t imagine putting myself first, and I couldn’t imagine a future where he wasn’t at the center of it all. From the first moment I held him (shaking, crying, and amazed to actually feel his skin against mine), I knew my life was no longer about myself. It was about my baby. My family. My husband and I were no longer singular beings. Our baby tied us all together like a ribbon on a package.

I floated around in those first few days (or was it weeks?), a little lost and confused. I was tired and pretty scared that I was suddenly responsible for the most important person in the world (my world, anyways). I was woefully unprepared for motherhood. When I was pregnant, I was much more interested in books about natural labor than books about being a parent. My labor prepared me to accept the unexpected though, as I went in (twice!) to be induced at almost two weeks past my due date and ending up with an epidural, something I desperately wanted to avoid.

The one smart thing I managed to do while pregnant was attend a breastfeeding class. This came in handy on my second or third day home when I remembered the lactation consultant hotline. I called them in tears, begging them to tell me what to do with my child who just kept crying.

“Start feeding him every two hours. From the time you start feeding him until the next time you feed him should only be two hours,” the lactation consultant told me.

“Yeah, he eats for like an hour at a time,” I said.

“Yep. You might only go 30 minutes or an hour between feedings,” she said.

And I think that’s when reality set in. This child wasn’t a side project – he was my life. That’s when I mentally pushed all of the people out of the room and out of my house and just fed my baby (the people were still there, but I don’t think I noticed them anymore). And I fed him. And fed him. And fed him. Finally, he stopped crying and we settled in. Mostly we just settled into the rocking chair in the living room as my husband brought me food and water and talked to us. Through those early nursing sessions, my baby and I really got to know each other. Even when I nurse him now, I see the same eyes and the same look that he gave me in those first few days home from the hospital.

That’s when I started to become a Mama. His Mama.

I was still pretty confused though. My son wouldn’t sleep in his co-sleeper. He would only sleep when he was touching me (and that hasn’t changed!). So I took the pillows and big blankets off of my bed and I put him next to me to sleep, and he would nurse. I felt like a horrible mom because only bad moms co-sleep. That’s what I had been led to believe anyways. During the day, I would hold him all the time and he would nurse for most of the day. No one told me it would be like this. I worried I was doing something wrong, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was just responding to him.

Then my friend came over with a gift and that’s when I really feel like I came out of a fog. She gave me Dr. Sears’s The Baby Book. She said, “My sister loved this book, so hopefully you’ll like it to.”

“I’ve heard of Dr. Sears,” I said. “I didn’t know he had a book.” (Geez! I was clueless!)

After she left that day, I started reading the book from the beginning. He talked about his seven “Baby B’s” of Attachment Parenting. I couldn’t stop reading. He was telling me that I was doing everything right. For the first time, I was reading a doctor’s words who told me that I was right. I was a good parent. My baby wasn’t doomed with a mother like me – one who wouldn’t put him down, who breastfed him every time he cried, who let him sleep next to her at night. I will never forget that feeling I had that day when I realized that I might be able to handle this Mama thing after all.

Sixteen months after the birth of my son, I still don’t quite know everything about being a Mama, but I’m learning something new every day. I am still breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and wearing my baby. I also go to work four days a week, attempt to prepare healthy meals (but I’m not opposed to a frozen pizza every once in a while), obsess about how the environment is impacting my son, and am trying to figure out how to discipline without being too scary. I’m slightly addicted to reading research about babies and children, but I’m learning more and more that my instincts are going lead me down the right path every time.

Being a mom is often a confusing and difficult job. Every time I hear my son say, “Mama,” I’m reminded just how lucky I am to have that title. Through this blog, I hope we will help other new (and not-so-new) Mamas and I look forward to learning from others. We are still becoming Mamas ourselves. I think this is a process that will last a lifetime.

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Published in Random