*This post was written in response to today’s prompt: An Extreme Tale
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
When was the last time that sentence accurately described your life?
Was Charles Dickens a father? I’ll have to google that. Because I’m pretty sure this quote was written about the first few months of parenthood.
For me, the first few months were truly the best of times and the worst of times. Starting with the delivery. The delivery was the most painful yet amazing experience of my entire life. From start to finish it lasted just over 24 hours. During the labour I experienced the most excruciating pain I’ve ever known, and then when Baby E was placed on my chest I experienced the most intense joy and love of my life. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions.
Actually, it began even before that day, with the pregnancy. I wouldn’t say that I had an incredibly difficult pregnancy, but I did have some challenges. After Baby E was born, a very good friend of mine became pregnant. We were chatting one day, and she noticed the nostalgic look in my eyes and asked me how I could seem to be blissfully daydreaming about my pregnancy, when it was such a difficult time for me in terms of health? It’s true! I was daydreaming about what a lovely period of time it was! Despite the health issues, I loved every minute of being pregnant. I loved the knowledge that I was carrying another human being inside my belly. I remember how excited I was the first time that I felt her move inside me, and how I smiled every time I felt a little kick or nudge. I loved the smiles and comments that I would receive when people noticed my belly – it opened the door to conversations with strangers everywhere I went. I loved that I was growing a life inside me, and that every day was shared with our little girl.
When Baby E arrived in our lives, this quote fit even more perfectly. All those sleepless nights in the first few weeks were a challenge that you can never prepare yourself for – no matter how many times you hear “enjoy your sleep now!” while you are pregnant! We spent hours walking around the house, bouncing Baby E in our arms, pushing repeat on the baby lullabies! Yet, as exhausted as we were, I wouldn’t have traded those moments. I began to cherish the times that we had together – sitting in the nursing chair in her bedroom, the house dark, and the stars shining through the blinds. This time was just her and I, and I loved stroking her sweet cheeks, and singing softly in her ear. I was exhausted, but I was in love.
I had never before felt so unsure and unprepared as I did those first few weeks. I am a learner. I always have been. I loved school when I was growing up, and I continued my education at university. I love learning new things, whether it be for school, work, or a new hobby. Therefore, I read a lot of books while I was pregnant. Yet despite all that preparation, I felt completely unprepared to look after this tiny little person! Slowly, slowly, with the help of my husband, our family, and close friends, I began to feel more comfortable. I eventually learned to trust my instincts, and listen to our baby. I learned a lot about Baby E, very quickly – what position she liked to sleep in, how she liked to be wrapped and swaddled, what songs she found soothing. And I learned a lot about myself.
Even our house was in disarray during those first few months! We went from a tidy house where most things had a place, and things were fairly uncluttered … to … well, a bit of a disaster! We had dust bunnies peeking out from doorways, clean laundry piled on the extra bed waiting to be folded, and dishes stacked on the kitchen counter! But despite the disorganization, everywhere you looked was evidence of the new addition and love of our life: a onesie drying over the shower rod, a tiny toque on the table by the front door, and a receiving blanket tucked between the cushions of the sofa. Our house had changed, but so had our lives. We had a new priority now.
Those first few months were challenging in many ways. I have never felt so tired, or worried so much. I worried about her sleeping at night, checking on her continuously to make sure she was still breathing. I worried that she was eating enough, and gaining the weight that the doctors said she should. I worried whether we were doing all the right things, and being the best parents that we could.
I had also never felt so much love as I felt for Baby E. I felt needed, and that I truly had embarked on the most important job of my life. Despite the challenges, and the steep learning curve … it truly was the best of times.