It’s easy to imagine being heads-over-heels in love with your precious new baby, but how does reality compare? Is it love at first sight or something much more? Tania shares her journey into motherhood and unconditional love…
Some would argue that our parents would have been the first to show us unconditional love. However, back then I always had it easy since I was on the receiving end. Until becoming a parent myself, I had never known what it takes to give such love. While we have the power to choose our friends and loved ones; especially our spouse, we don’t get to choose how our babies turn out – neither looks nor personality. And for this, I am humbled to confess, that I had much to learn the day my son was born.
As a modern woman, we were raised to make our choices. We choose what we want to be when grown up, where to work, and most importantly, whom to marry. I learned to exercise the delicious taste of making decisions while in college; stumbled along during my professional 20-something working years, and thought I had somehow mastered it by the time I turned 30. I felt on top of the world.
Even during pregnancy, I felt I could somehow control my environment. We got lucky to conceive quickly within our chosen time frame, found our favorite ob/gyn, and got into the hospital of our preference.
Due to complications, I had to undergo a c-section procedure to deliver the baby. Although it wasn’t my first choice, somehow the scheduled c-section also gave me the illusion that even birth could somewhat be controlled. Families flew in the night before the big day, hospital bags were packed and I started fasting 12 hours beforehand. The husband had practiced and memorized the routes to the hospital and aside from a single wrong detour; we arrived promptly at 11am sharp that day.
The surgery went pretty smooth, the surgeons were competent and relaxed, and my husband held on to my hand strongly to soothe my nerves. During the final moment, I felt my body being rocked back and forth as they pushed our son out and suddenly, I was staring at this lump of love screaming angrily at the world. And I was speechless. It wasn’t the reaction I had imagined. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. What I thought to be love at first sight had become something a lot more complex.
I was thrilled to welcome our son, yet I was struck with the realization that after our intimate 9 months of acquaintance, he was yet still a stranger. He was so real, so human, and daring me to love and accept him as he was. I realized then that I just met my first unconditional love. This revelation was scary yet exciting at the same time.
We took time getting to know each other. We learned how to breastfeed together, how to nap together, and definitely how to meet to his demands. Pretty soon I discovered that he has a mind all his own, though at times he seems to understand our limits and patience as well. I was apprehensive at first, realizing that my new daily life cannot be measured by a set of goals and checklists anymore. I can only plan so much, but have to be ready to come up with improvised ideas when things go awry. To finally be able to embrace that and learn to shrug it off when things don’t turn out as expected was an everyday challenge.
Fifteen months down the road, I have learned to become a new person. Parenthood changes that in you. Cancel our movie date night due to teething pain? It’s worth it. Pee in my mouth? That was just water. Struggling to operate a stroller and missing brunch with friends in town? There will be other brunches. But oh, those wet kisses and little hands hugging you and the sweet little voice calling out “Mamaaaa?” I can never have enough of those. And for that, I am completely grateful for the lesson.