I’m a mum! What a whirlwind of emotions the past 16-months have been as my husband and I welcomed a bright-eyed baby, now busy toddler, into our lives, and into our hearts. In no way is my story unique, as many were pregnant during the pandemic, and many gave birth in the early days of unknown lockdown life. I don’t need to rehash the horrors of the past 19-months, as some are still reeling from the havoc this very real virus had on our day-to-day lives, nor do I need to share what hospital / NICU life looked like from the perspective of a mask-wearing-new-mum, it’s all a hazy blur anyways, but I do want to share some words on this new, and still very surreal, motherhood journey.
In the summer of 2020, after a five-day hospital stay, we brought home a teeny 5lb baby. Those early days were spent on the couch cuddling our little bundle, in bed playing catchup on missed sleep, and outside, lounging under a big umbrella. Days and nights blurred together, time shifted, and life outside of our three-person cocoon vanished. The days were hard, exhausting, yet magically beautiful. Every day was a learning experience as we all adapted, grew and slowly became comfortable as a new family.
Then, after I finally thought I had a handle on my new role, anxiety settled in with each sunset. I counted down the hours until bedtime with dread, and then I would add the hours until the next feed, while subtracting the hours of sleep I would lose. Phantom cries would wake me, and the real cries would snap me out of my slumber, where I would rush to the crib bumping into doorways and walls along the way. The baby monitor was always on, always beside me providing a false comfort to what was reflecting back at me on the screen. It wasn’t enough. I was constantly scared that she would stop breathing in her sleep. I had to know that she was still alive. I would tiptoe to her room and slowly open the door to hear that inhale exhale sound, and if I couldn’t hear anything, I would sprint to the crib and place my hand on her to feel the rise and fall of her tiny chest. Relief would momentarily fill me, and when it didn’t, I would scoop her into my arms and hold her, the weight of her comforting me at all hours. I was a mess that was overflowing with a newfound love that I didn’t know what to do or how to act when she wasn’t with me.
Already, those fears feel like a lifetime ago. (Time no longer makes sense when you watch a baby grow anxiously waiting for one stage to end while simultaneously wishing you could push pause on this precious, albeit fleeting, moment in time.) Now, I watch my bright-eyed baby with awe and wonder as she begins to navigate through this world waving at every stranger that passes by, and pointing at everything in amazement. Her perspective on our surroundings teaches me the importance of showing kindness to others, that the little things we take for granted (rocks, twigs, puddles) all beautifully belong here. She teaches me that there is always time for another push on the swing, that there is always time for an extra book before bedtime, that there is always time to crawl on the floor and be silly, that there is always time for her, because one day there won’t be any time. So for now, I will hold that little hand in mine, forever and always.