For however different the birth of Baby 1.0 was compared to how I thought the birth was going to be, actually holding her tiny body and gazing down upon her perfect face induced a feeling I couldn’t have imagined I was capable of. While she was technically my first human child, she was hardly my first mammalian infant responsibility, as I’ve fostered enough baby animals to claim dual-citizenship with the animal kingdom. When they look up at you, their little paws clutching your fingers while you bottle-feed them, your heart swells. Or at least mine did. But when cradling our little babe for the first time, my heart didn’t just swell; it did the human equivalent of the Big Bang (the cosmological event, not the T.V. show, or the South Korean pop band). And from that explosion, a new state of being was formed: A giant emotional gas cloud composed of sticky, intoxicating love, a hefty smattering of fear, a few black holes of depression, and countless little glimmers of pure joy. This new feeling, which will henceforth be referred to as “Motherhood,” was completely and utterly life changing from the very first second she was set in my arms.
This is my heart, exploding all over, making a big ol’ mess out of motherhood.
Speaking of which, from the very first second she was set in my arms, Baby 1.0 started crying. It was to be expected, in those first few seconds, or minutes I suppose. But it continued. For a long time, which is a story for a later post, but I’m mentioning it now for the 15 people who read this regularly, so they won’t say “but you didn’t mention the crying after she was born!” She cried, y’all. From the get-go. Aside from the monsoon of baby tears, there were a few other unexpected discoveries right from the beginning. Perhaps one of the most shocking, our baby was born with what could only be described as troll toenails. They were tiny, or at least they had the capacity to be tiny once trimmed, but they were long and pointy, and caught me by surprise, literally. They would snag my very chic hospital gown when I was awkwardly maneuvering her about to give her the proper amount of “skin-to-skin”, or nurse her. Even with my new galaxy-sized mother heart, the feeling of them scraping across my abdomen was enough to gag me a little. “Learn how to trim toenails” was quickly bumped up to the top of the extensive list of ‘Things To Learn How To Do.’
Cute baby toes! I googled “Troll Toenails,” which I regretted immediately. Don’t do it. I dare you.
Our two days in the hospital flew by. The nurses were extremely attentive, and would happily do anything from bring you a juice, to join you in the bathroom once you discovered you had peed and couldn’t get up. They offered a smorgasbord of great pointers, many of which contradicted each other, but at least then you always felt like maybe you weren’t doing it wrong. For two days we ooh’d and aww’d Baby 1.0’s every movement, and diligently recorded her meals and corresponding diaper deposits (turns out there is an app for that). We put up the requisite “Meet Our Baby” Facebook post, and received more well wishes than we knew what to do with. It was an idyllic time, minus of course, the crying. Our comfort level grew from fear on par with handling a dangerous snake, to a place where we could safely determine which end was up, and which end was most likely to spray liquid on us.
And then, just like that, our stay was over. At 11am on the dot, our nurses switched from caring best friend mode, to border patrol guards and booted us with the efficiency of a fast food line cook. It wasn’t until after I’d dressed in actual clothes for the first time that I wished I’d heeded the unsolicited advice of a client a few weeks earlier. “Bring baggy clothes to go home in,” she’d said, with a knowing smile. In my head I’d sneered and thought, “I will be skinny again then, you insufferable clown.” But after wrestling my bread loaf-sized combination ice-pack/pad into my yoga pants, I understood what she meant. We collected our things and waddled our way down the hall towards the car, half expecting a slow-clap, but instead being fully ignored. I’m not sure if maybe everybody there didn’t know I had just birthed a freaking human, or if they just didn’t care, but either way, I think at the very least, I deserved a slow-clap.
Put this in your pants. Or use it to make French Toast, but definitely don’t do both.
We walked out of the hospital into the hot, July, midday sun, and my mind was flooded with a wave of unexpected worry. The sun! Get her out of the sun! The pollution! Oh dear God, why do we live in a city? It’s so loud! WHY ARE YOU HONKING, ASSHOLE?! We got her in the car, and very slowly and very nervously drove away. My husband was at the wheel, admittedly more nervous than when he took -and failed- his first driver’s test (for the record, he is an exceedingly safe driver, and passed his test on the very next try). Fortunately, we lived about 4 minutes from the hospital, so our journey home was very short and uneventful, even when going 15 mph.
And then we were home, and we were three (or six if you count our three pissed-off cats, seven if you also include my mother-in-law who was staying with us for the week. Also we had a fish. Eight. We were eight). Just like the Big Bang, there was no going back now. Life as we knew it was brand new, and hurtling towards an unknown future at an immeasurable speed.
I am not a science person, or at least in the sense that I know all the ins and outs of the Big Bang Theory. I’ve done a bit of googling about it over the last week, but I’m sure I made a mess of it when using it as a metaphor. Maybe the speed is actually measurable. Maybe black holes didn’t happen right away. I dunno. But just go with it. Or feel free to tell me about it.