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".