Saturday, July 01, 2006

Learn It, Know It, Live It

Nathan asked me to do an occasional post, which I am happy to do if only to say thank you for all the prayers and support during this simultaneously difficult and exciting time. However, I am also eager to share some of my unfolding thoughts with those who care to read on.

Being labeled "mom" was always something that seemed distant to me. I knew instinctually that I wanted to be a parent, but couldn't wrap my brain around the logical gap between wanting a pregnancy/actually being pregnant and wanting to be a mom/actually having a baby. So once I did get pregnant, I thought being so would help the reality of eventually being a parent sink in. I believed the natural flood of hormones would assist my brain's evolution and I was convinced that once I felt that first fetal kick everything would become intrinsically clear. Instead, my difficult pregnancy was confusing. My hormones became my definite enemy, not a natural force of revelation. My body was in turmoil for that brief five months and my mind followed suit.

The circumstances surrounding Woody's birth only contributed to the confusion. The last few days before he was born I was on an IV drug design to dull my central nervous system and narcotic pain relievers, blurring the lines of reality. I gave birth in a crowded buzzing surgical room and our baby was whisked away immediately. The first time I saw Woody was 36 hours later, with him in an isolette and me in a wheelchair. What I saw didn't look like a baby - especially in the very early days, he had an alien-like appearance. I didn't feel like a parent, probably because we couldn't actually do most things parents do. I couldn't feed him, we couldn't change him, and we weren't able to touch and hold him. But I knew instantly that I loved Woody immensely, and those feelings kept me coming back to the hospital each day to learn him - to know him - to just be there for him.

Slowly he started to look normal. All his parts are there, he's just smaller. In staring at him for hours, I've noticed his little pug nose (not sure where exactly he gets this), his forehead that crinkles into a consternated expression just like Nathan's, and his huge blue eyes. He has a big personality and he's frisky. He bosses the nurses around by holding his breath against the ventilator (resulting in all sorts of beeping alarms) when he wants to be changed or have his head repositioned or get an extra blanket. Nurse J mentioned she doesn't need a clock around to know when to feed Woody, because his intentional alarming will notify her that he's ready. He enjoys kisses and being held. He is and will be a normal kid.

As the surrealness of the early days of Woody's life begins to recede, as he begins to look more everyday like a "real" baby, and as I have physically recovered, I'm beginning to feel the responsibility and shear elation that must come to every new parent. For me, it has been a process, not a Eureka experience, that has led me to realize my inner "mom." In fact, while contemplating this post, I came to understand that parenting isn't something bestowed, it's something that earned. It's the interaction with your child, the act of caring for your child, and the internal reflection of this relationship that creates the definition. I come to the point, and I know this is incredibly cliche, but it is true - "Mom" is a verb.


At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Grammie said...

Your beautiful essay made me cry! Thanks for articulating so eloquently what it means to "mom." You're doing a great job.

P.S. Haddens are known for their pug noses. I've been teased about it all my life.

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Aunt Susan said...

I'm crying with Grammie!! I am so sorry that you didn't have the typical beginning to parenthood, but I know that soon it will all be a distant memory. You will now go by 'MOM' and occasionally Maggie. You won't need an alarm clock anymore...You will be a busy lady, but you will be SO LOVED. Enjoy....

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Granddad Steve/Mimi Sherri said...

Maggie - this is beautiful - it didn't make ME cry (Susan/Grammie: step back from the keyboards - computers don't do so well when wet!) However, it reminded us of one of the reasons we respect and love you so; you are articulate and care so deeply about those you love.

We really enjoyed our time with you - all that food and painting and conversation and planning for the future. Things are going to be so different on future visits when W.X. is set free - heck, we may be ordering a lot of pizza delivery... Take care!

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous jared said...

Heartfelt, insightful, and beautiful.

The words, the author.


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