On August 2, 2012 I was introduced to the love of my life. It wasn't until that moment, when they first laid this tiny piece of perfection on my chest, that I truly knew what it felt like to love something so much and so unconditionally, that it hurt, but hurt in such a wonderful way. Madelyn Olivia Pauken was born at 3:23 p.m. on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. After 15 hours of attempting to induce labor, with no luck, I underwent a cesarean, which, having never had any kind of surgery in my life, was the most terrifying experience of my life! I remember at one point, on the way to the OR thinking, "Nevermind. Let's just leave her in there to cook some more." I'm not sure if it was just my nerves going crazy from the impending surgery, that I would be fully awake for, or the fear that I was really about to become someone's mother, but suddenly I was yearning for more time. "Maybe I'll just stay pregnant." I bet that's not something you hear from a woman 41 weeks pregnant! But all of that went away when I heard that first precious cry from the other side of the sheet. As my OB handed her to the nurse, and my husband and I caught the first glimpse of our angel, he squeezed my hand as he told me how much he loved me. We were parents.
Fast-forward about 8 months. Madelyn is the happiest little chunk I've ever seen. Her smile is infectious and her little giggles just make me melt. Everything she does is magical. I even jokingly tell my husband that even her poopie diapers are cute. He disagrees. She's learning to crawl and talk and is finally at what I like to refer to as "the fun age." But, as much as I love her, it hasn't all been magic and smiles and rainbows. Like many other mother's can attest to, there have been more tears than I can count, and they were not tears of joy.
Prior to becoming pregnant, I didn't even see children in my future. I remember having multiple conversations with my mother, saying that I never felt the overwhelming urge to be a mother. While I wasn't completely opposed to it, as long as I had a good marriage and a job I loved, life would be fulfilling. However, with that first positive pregnancy test, I knew that my life was meant to take this detour. I knew that this was God plan and boy would I have been missing out had I never known the love of my child and the love I would have for her. But back to those tears.
We have been extremely blessed when it comes to Madelyn's overall behaviour as a baby. At 4 months, she was sleeping in her crib for 12+ hours straight. She's happy, healthy and perfect....as long as mommy is always with her. We have now entered the separation anxiety portion of infancy and, let me just tell ya, it stinks. While it is an incredible feeling to know that she loves me so much and is solely reliant on me, the fact that I can't even go to the bathroom and pee without her crying hysterically like her arm is being ripped off is extremely trying, to say that least. I've read in multiple books and blogs and spoken with other mothers who assure me that it's only a phase, but, I'm just going to go ahead and say it, it's freaking annoying. I know it won't be long before I'm wishing for these moments back, when I was her world and the thought of me leaving upset her more than shots at the doctor, but in this moment, as I listen to her wail because I ran upstairs for my phone charger, i find myself yearning for the days to come where she doesn't even notice I'm in the room. It truly is an emotional seesaw. How can I savor her adoration while at the same time resent it? Am I a bad mother because sometimes I want her to need me less? And an even more jarring thought for me, will my baby start to resent or dislike me because I can't make her happy 24/7? After a couple of months of being ravaged with guilt, going back and forth, relishing her love but missing my former independence, I've finally come to the realization that my feelings are ok, and even normal. A friend recently told me, you can't entertain your baby all day long, and sometimes they're going to cry. Completely run-of-the-mill advice, while at the same time being the brilliant sentiment that I needed. I can't make my baby laugh all of the time. I can't be there to hold and snuggle her all the time. I can't give her a perfect world where she never feels pain, disappointment or fear, but it's ok and she will survive.
Today, our society is so focused on the portrayal of the perfect mother, that it ends up making us feel inadequate and under par, especially when you're a first time mom, with no idea what the hell you're doing. We see all of these memes and stories on facebook about how wonderful motherhood is but so few accounts of how difficult it actually is. Motherhood is magical, but at times it is hard, upsetting and down right obnoxious. When you're changing your child's diapers, clothes and sheets at 4 a.m. because they peed through their diaper, you aren't thinking "Oh, these moments are fleeting, I better cherish these late night changes." Your're thinking "Dammit, you're going to be getting up for the day in two hours and as hard as I try I'm probably not going to go back to sleep after this." I think that the key to being a good parents is knowing and accepting that you're not going to be Jane Cleaver. You're going to mess up, sometimes big time. We're all only human, and, on some level, your baby knows that. Infants don't expect us to be perfect, they expect us to be their mommies.
Madelyn has truly been a blessing to me and I cannot imagine life without her. Sometimes I daydream about life pre-child, but at the end of the day I would not trade being a mommy for anything in the world. She has made my life so much better in so many way. While, at times, I am pushed to my limit, when she flashes that adorable gummy grin at me with a little giggle attached, my heart melts and I am truly able to understand what people mean when they say you can never get these days back.