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Friday, June 9, 2017

For When You're No Longer Pregnant

He's seven pounds, 11 ounces, Mom.

The cheery nurse smiled a wide, 9:30 a.m. grin. And her words struck me. First, with pride and an unveiled layer of understanding: my son has gained a whole pound since we left the hospital.

This is why I stumble to his basinet at two o'clock for a feeding. This is why I squirm under a cover up when there is company, or when my husband and I are brave enough to shuffle into the world outside our city condo. This is why I change my outfit at least three times before we leave the house.

I am, at this time, meant to help him grow. 

And it works. It powerfully works. 

The second?

"Did she just call me Mom?"

There are a few things in the world that will change your life instantly.

Watching the screen on piece of plastic you bought half-panicked, half-hoping at the grocery store fizzle into good news is one of them.

The moment you have your child in your arms and you're no longer pregnant is another.

Everything changes. Everything. From your clothing styles (maneuvering pre-pregnancy clothes to nursing appropriate pieces), to your favorite tracking apps on your phone,  and, bless it, no longer having to run to the restroom every 25 minutes. (For the record, I would like to tell everyone who told me to "sleep while I can" that I am sleeping more now postpartum than I did the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy). 

Forty weeks go by. Forty weeks. You become the very literal definition of navel-gazer, watching your belly, your appetite, your hormones and annoyances with the outer world grow.

Everyone can see the changes happening to your body. Everyone knows: you're about to have baby.

And then it happens in a flash. A decision. A prod (or four) with an epidural needle. An incision. A muffled cry. No longer pregnant. Forever-longer a mother.

Though the change was instant, the realization seeps into your every day.

It happens at the grocery store when patrons no longer give you too-long side stares or let you pass through them in the line. The world doesn't know you're three weeks post c-section, and that's why you're walking a little more tenderly.

Seven pounds, 11 ounces, Mom.

It happens when you return to the hospital the night after you come home from having the baby. It happens in an embarrassing bout of anxiety and high blood pressure. Your first time away from your boys. Completely unprepared to nourish your child while you're gone for three of the longest hours of your life, just a half-hearted can of formula tucked away in the cabinets. Unused bottles still pristine in their Amazon Prime boxes. 

11 ounces, Mom.

It happens when you forget to bring a pie to your mother-in-law's house for dinner. One that you strategically placed by the door that you breezed right past in the flurry of buckling the car seat and tucking those tiny feet into a pair of still-too-big socks for the fortieth time.

It happens when you relay the forgotten pie anecdote to your brother in law who simply puts his arm around you, laughs and welcomes you to "the club."

It happens as I write this post on my phone while diffusing my wet curls, wondering if I'm doing either well: my hair frizzy, already tired from fighting the summer's humidity, my words misspelled.


It happens in the moments beyond the gushing and starry eyes. It's packed with tangled, type-A thoughts: if I feed him now, will we make it through a two-hour church service? Will he need a diaper change at grandma's (heavens, yes)? Will he let our visitors hold him (most of the time)? Will he notice if I set him down in his basinet for the night (yes)? Will I wake up wake up frantically searching the sheets of our bed, convinced I was holding him in my sleep to find him safely tucked away in the corner? 

 All of this happened both in an instant and slowly. Like how you step into the ocean – you still get wet but you have to wade a little bit to get deep.

And that's how, I'm finding, you come into motherhood. Loving those seven pounds 11 ounces both all at once and bit by bit.
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