Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fumbling towards greatness

Karen is a girl in my office who is currently almost 5 months pregnant with her first baby. Frequently she will ask me about some peculiar twinge she is experiencing or about how I came to make one of the approximately four million decisions made about Graham’s care in utero and up until now.

I very much like this girl and I’m flattered that she seeks my advice so I try to dispense as many pearls as wisdom as possible in my most reassuring, motherly tone.

Hopefully she never discovers I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

Doesn’t she remember my office baby shower when I brought the house down by unwrapping a nasal aspirator and chirping brightly “You can never have too many pacifiers!”?

While sorting photos for Graham’s baby book the other day, I came across one that never fails to crack me up. It was taken as we prepared to leave the hospital after his birth.

There are a few things that strike me about this photo - one is that my hair looks surprisingly good for someone who has just given birth, but I digress.

Mostly I am struck by the juxtaposition of utter contentment and barely-concealed terror.

Graham could not look more serene: sleeping peacefully, he is blissfully unaware that his very survival depends on the glassy-eyed people flanking him, both of whom appear to be fighting the onset of a panic attack.

I remember those early days well. We referred to Graham as our little yawning chasm of need. Everyone talks about how overwhelming new parenthood is, but the intensity of caring for a newborn is still shocking.

Surprisingly though, you figure it out pretty quickly. In some ways being a good mom is the hardest job in the world, in some ways it’s the easiest. For me it was several months before Graham truly seemed like he wasn’t part of my body anymore, hence tending to his needs, while incredibly exhausting, was as natural as tending to my own.

You just do it. You feed, you burp, you clean, you adjust, you rock, you coo, you protect, you love with a ferocity that sears your soul.

And one day you wake up and see what you have wrought and your heart is flooded to bursting with wonder. How is it possible? Is it a miracle?

Yes it is. And knowing that Karen is about to experience it sometimes chokes me up. She can ask me questions all the day long and I am happy, thrilled really, to babble on about how it was for me.

But deep down I know that when her own little yawning chasm of need arrives, so too will the answers she seeks.

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TallGirlsAdventures said...

Kelly, I just stumbled on your blog by way of Daily Babble, and this "Fumbling" entry has me grinning ear to ear.

I have a very similar photo of our departure from the hospital (except in ours, my son is FREAKING OUT and his face is red and squished...not nearly as peaceful and gorgeous as your Graham). My husband and I laugh about that day now -- but it was the most terrifying day of our lives thus far. I have vivid recall of sitting in the backseat of the car on our way home from the hospital, c-section scar searing, clinging to the car seat as my husband drove about 40 mph down I-95 (a road on which people generally average at least 75 mph). We got home, and in the 45 minutes it took for my husband to go out to get me some Advil (because I had an adverse reaction to the good pain meds), Hayden continued screaming as if in terrible pain, my milk came in, and the cat attacked my feet. When Chris came home, I was sitting on the bed, tears streaming from my eyes, milk streaming from my breasts, and blood streaming from my cat-scratched feet. It was a scene from a poorly directed horror film.

But we made it through that day...and here we are two years later, wise and experienced parents, passing on sage advice to our friends. As if anything we've done so far is remotely correct!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can relate to much of what you're saying here -- we're all young, hip, smart, and fun in our own little way. (And way, way cooler than our parents!)

Blog on, girl!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the support Tori. You should start a blog yourself - you paint quite a picture. I remember when we got home we went faint with relief when my mom called to say she was coming right away instead of in the evening. "Thank God - someone who know what they're doing!"