No matter how many times you hear it, it is still impossible to understand what it really means to become a mother. Although I knew what the two little lines in the display of the plastic stick that was covered in my urine meant, I had no idea, what it really meant to be a mother.
I was three days late, I was at an endurance ride over the weekend with friends and horses, and in the middle of the night, it struck me that I was late. I didn’t think it was a big deal, I could have been a few days off on my estimate, but when I got home that Tuesday, I took a test before racing outside to meet a client for riding lessons. Within 30 seconds, two very distinct blue lines appeared. I began to cry. I was happy, but I was scared of what that meant. I was scared that I had some drinks on New Years, and took a sleeping pill to help me sleep the night before the endurance ride. I was scared of what it meant to be pregnant for 9 months. No horses, no running, no third world country adventure travels. I was scared to be 37 and that there was a 40% risk of my baby having a chromosomal defect. I was scared to fall in love with the idea of becoming a mother in case it didn’t actually happen. I had about ten minutes to spare before my lesson, so I returned a call to my friend, and I tried not to let her hear the fear and excitement in my voice. But I was crying, I couldn’t stop crying. I broke down told her that I had taken a test, and it was positive. She asked me if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I explained that it was just plain scary.
Fast-forward to September 30, 2017. There I was with a giant gaping gash across my abdomen, skin stretched as they pulled Elijah Grant Smith out of my body. The sweet little 7 pounds 1 ounce baby, was exactly what I had been preparing for over the last 10 months. He was finally here. I had awaited his arrival so impatiently primarily for the following reasons:
- I was excited to meet him
- I was excited not to be pregnant anymore and feel like a whale
- I was excited to go back to being a stomach sleeper
- I was excited to drink wine
What I didn’t realize was what a drastic makeover my life was going through.
Let’s fast forward a year and some change. Elijah is a little over a year old. He started eating solids around 6 months, and walking at 10 months. He now says “ehhh” and points to tell me what he wants, and throws himself on the ground (the hard tile floor) when he doesn’t get what he wants immediately. He currently sleeps in bed with us, still nurses throughout the night and amazes us daily with his intelligence and understanding of complex things that we ask him to do. He laughs big old belly laughs often and 95% of his time is considered playtime. Everything is a playful game except eating, sleeping and diaper changes. His favorite, must-have objects are a shoe horn, a ladle, and a baster brush. I find 2 of the three items in the shower, or dunked in the toilet at least once a week. He loves to “help”. If I am cooking, he wants to take the spatula from me and beat the food in the pan to death with it. If I am cleaning, he wants the paper towel and the spray bottle so he can spray and wipe with me, then he looks up for approval to verify that he did a good job. He wants me to hold him most of the time, and if I try to put him down to go pee, he throws himself on the ground, unless I distract him with a toy… or a baster, ladle or shoe horn. He has to be watched all of the time. He can open drawers, even the child proof ones and yank things out. He puts everything in his mouth. He loves to taste or chew on the dogs kibbles, my toothbrush, his used wrapped up diapers (which he demands that he puts them in the diaper genie), and most recently, he sunk his teeth into a bar of Irish Spring soap, which oddly enough, didn’t phase him. When the dog vomits, or he finds liquid on the floor (or even worse, if he poops on the floor) his first instinct is to put his hands in it and smear it around. Thank goodness that I scooped him up before he played in the poop.
Let me explain, I had taken his diaper off for bath time, and as I was messing with the water, he pooped. I scooped him up before he managed to get his hands in it, but not before he crawled through it. I put him in the shower, and as I turned around to clean it up, the dog quickly darted to the pile of mush and began chowing down on it. Thanks, dog… I think.
My point is, that I didn’t realize that being a parent was a full time job. I didn’t realize that any spare time I had prior to being a mom, was no longer. Those days of going to the store after work are long gone. I pick up the baby from daycare, we go to the house, nurse and he naps from 4-6 pm. I imagined that I would be riding my horse while he napped, or doing stuff outside, but that is not the case. I prepare for the next day and make dinner so when he wakes up, we can eat, cleanup and shower. He goes to bed at 7:30 and we are in bed by 8. Yes, we could stay up later, but he wakes up a couple of times a night and we need the extra sleep. That is how each weekday goes. Weekends are less structured, and we get more accomplished, but it is a team effort. I have to give those single mothers a ton of respect, because I have no idea how they do it. We don’t have family here, we don’t have consistent babysitters, and we don’t have anybody he can spend the night with when we need a break.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother, but I just didn’t understand when people said they couldn’t meet up because it was the babies nap time or because they didn’t want to bring their toddler to an event and they didn’t have a sitter. Now I see how the simple daily tasks are amplified when there is a baby or a toddler involved. I guess these are things that you would not be able to understand until you live it, but hopefully, this gives you some insight on what to expect when you are expecting.