After laboring through most of April 26th, 2002, I finally gave birth to my daughter in the wee hours of April 27th, with the assistance of a formidable pair of forceps. I was 25 years old and I didn’t know the first thing about being a mom. I didn’t know enough to be terrified or even amazed when the OB held up the umbilical cord and showed off the “true” knot that could have meant disaster, if not for the miraculous length of the cord.
In that moment, when Audrey reluctantly emerged, kicking and screaming, my life — like every other new parent’s — changed forever. My identity, which had been in a state of constant flux over the previous decade – teenager, high school student, college student, fiancee, wife – settled into something new and very permanent: mother.
That first day was, as you might expect, full of excitement. Eli and I are both the oldest children in our families, so Audrey was the first everything — niece, grandchild, great-grandchild. Generations of euphoric family members descended on my hospital room to share in our joy. But for me, it was also a day filled with anxiety. I had so much to learn. Motherhood felt like a pair of too-big shoes that might never fit.
Nine years later, I’ve grown into motherhood, sure enough. Those early concerns — feeding, pooping and sleeping issues that once seemed so monumental — have given way to far more complicated things. Education, spirituality, relationships and morality are just a few of the topics I’ve tangled with over the past few months. I still have a lot to learn, but I now know enough to be grateful every day – grateful for that long umbilical cord that ensured the safe passage of this beautiful, brilliant child into my life, grateful for her amazing siblings and my wonderful husband, and grateful that they all challenge me to be a better person and a better mother every day.
This post was written with Audrey’s input and suggestions (note the emoticon in the title) in the wee hours of 4/28/11 as we were both dealing with jet lag after a family trip to Phoenix. Nine years later, as it turns out, I still worry about her sleep.