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May 11, 2012

The Moment a Mother is Born


Long before the girls were born, I had been called “Mama Mandy” by my friends and colleagues.  I was known as the one who always had Band-aids, hand sanitizer, and extra granola bars for marathon meeting days.  I coordinated office birthday celebrations, and bought sympathy cards to circulate.

During my pregnancy, I was fiercely protective, and – while I was very cautious for a long time about buying anything baby-related – I felt so incredibly attached to my tiny baby girls.

When the girls were born, though, it was hard to describe how I felt.  I still felt protective.  And of course I loved my babies.  But I somehow felt “detached”. 

I don’t know how much of that was related to the NICU experience…that I didn’t get to see them until they were about 12 hours old…that I wasn’t primarily responsible for their care…but it wasn’t the feeling I had expected.

We made it through the NICU, thankful our stay was only 10 days.  We brought our babies home, and I began the task of caring for them.  I had instructions on when to feed them and how much.  I followed those instructions…I loved on my babies…I struggled through emotions…but it still didn’t feel “magical”.

Within our first few days home, Baby A had her first nasty bout with reflux.  There was projectile spit-up, coming out of her mouth and nose, and she was coughing and gagging and gasping for air.  I’d never seen anything like it.

My husband was panicking, yelling at me to call someone.

I tuned him out and focused on my baby.  I reached for the bulb syringe and cleared her nose and mouth.  I was so scared, but I somehow maintained my composure and figured out what to do.

My tiny baby started crying, and then I knew she was OK.

That moment is crystal clear in my mind…the feeling of responsibility…of determination...that moment when something clicked. 

These are my babies.  I am their mommy.  I am uniquely responsible for them.  I can and will love them like no one else.  They breathe.  I breathe.  They are my life.

That’s the moment I was “born” as a mother.

And with each day, with each new adventure, with each new challenge, my love for them grows.  It’s a beautiful thing, and I am so very, very grateful to be who I am to them.

***
 
The idea for this post was inspired by IASoupMama.  She has shared some beautiful (and funny!) reflections on this topic from different bloggers this week.  It's been a lot of fun to read them, and it's been really heartwarming to know that many of us can point to such a "moment".

10 comments:

championm2000 said...

**sniff. sniff.**

...as I remember that moment in the middle of the night--the first night in the hospital--when Emily snuggled on my neck and I realized all my dreams had finally come true.

*really crying now**

Cuz I'm the mama! said...

beautiful!

Mandy said...

Don't look, you'll see me cry!

Deanna said...

Beautiful post, Mandy!

I have often said that the whole "two at once" thing was so overwhelming in the beginning...it took our bond a little while to develop too. But there's just nothing else like it, is there? : )

Johanna Baker said...

Aww. So sweet. I didn't know yours were in the NICU. Happy Mother's Day to one of the best mamas I 'know'. :)

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Just beautiful, "Mama Mandy"

it took me some time too - I certainly didn't feel that the moment of them being born was the best thing ever, etc :)

All I remember was shaking like a leaf wondering if they'd live!

Julia said...

Wow! That was breathtaking, Mandy. Love the honesty. I think a lot of mamas can relate.

How wonderful that you have such a beautiful story to share of that "moment" when you became a mama :)

Barbara Manatee said...

I was in the same boat, not seeing the twins for over 24 hours and not being a part of their care for the first few days since I was so sick myself...I felt so overwhelmed and unsure of myself. I was actually a little jealous of my husband who seemed so informed and at ease by the time I was well enough to be with them much.

I clearly remember the first time I was alone with both of them by myself...and how amazing it felt that I was managing just fine. I remember when we finally had breast feeding under control and how proud I was of that. snuggling them and just drinking them all in...realizing they were mine.

Such an amazing gift!

Happy Mother's day, Mandy!

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I think the twin thing makes it hard to feel that intense bond initially (NICU or not). It is just non-stop from the very beginning. While I often lamented having three children under three, I am so glad I had the experience of mothering a singleton first. It is totally different. I got to really get to know her. I spent so much time just staring at her! That was not even close to possible with my twins.

Sometimes I think I would like to have one more baby just so I could have that experience again. Of course, my chances of having a second set of twins are high enough that I wouldn't dare risk it. :-)

IASoupMama said...

Mandy, this is a lovely story! Your instincts were spot on -- you're a wonderful mama!

Having two singletons before twins, it is a completely different feeling, no question about it. Mine were not NICU babies (bless you mamas who had NICU babies), but it was overwhelming coming home with them and having a 3 and 5 year old, too. The girls just turned one and I'm still beyond exhausted, LOL!

They were so tiny compared to my 8lb and 8.5lb older kids (they were 5lbs 8ozs and 6lbs 6oz at 37 weeks). We spent so much time feeding changing, pumping, and protecting them from too much big sibling love -- I tried to make sure that at some point in each day I devoted a chunk of time to each baby where I just interacted with her as if she were the only kid in the house. I still try to do that and love those times.

Happy Mother's Day, all!