A decade of mothering
Ten years ago today we ushered our five week premature baby girl into the world with wide-eyed wonder. We were sure she’d come home with us in a day or two, wasn’t that what babies did? However, once I’d recovered enough from the delivery to be wheeled upstairs to see her, we realized she wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. She’d been taken from me straight upstairs to get the help she needed. My dreamy visions of snuggling her little body and taking in her girl-sweet newness slipped quietly away as I struggled to understand through the fog what exactly was happening as they left with my brand new daughter.
We spent day after day at her side and came home to our little condo only to sleep a few hours and sit in her empty room and weep. One thing after another seemed to go wrong and days became weeks and nothing was what we expected. I was more attached to the breast pump than to her and that made me cry. I didn’t even get to hold her for almost a week after her birth. So much for an instant bond.
The longer we were there the more impossible it felt that we would bring her home. She required so much care and help and it left me feeling terrified and completely incompetent to be the one who would eventually be responsible for her. I of course couldn’t verbalize a word of that and just sat and smiled at her and the nurses hours upon hours on end. Listening for the right beeps and fearing the wrong ones that said she wasn’t stable enough. I would call in to the nurses station at 3:00 in the morning just to check on her, feeling weighed down with guilt that I was home and she was alone in a warm little box in the hospital.
Thirty days later, she finally weighed enough, breathed enough, ate enough and was deemed well enough to come home. It was surreal and terror-infusing all at the same time. We had a medication chart stuck on the fridge with dosages, times, details. We had to track kidney function so were told to write down every wet diaper and the amount of every bottle. We had to fret over germs and keep her protected from all that we could so her body could keep working out all its issues. We had to work through insurance to get a $5,000 pediatric blood pressure machine on loan to us so we could check hers twice a day. I had to set alarms to remind me to pump milk for her eight times a day. Which I would do for five solid months following her arrival.
Talk about completely blowing expectations out of the water. Talk about something not turning out just how you pictured. I was set up to be stressed-out-mother from the get go for so many reasons. So many. But this induction into motherhood certainly tipped the scales that direction.
Those first days of Rylee’s life were a sort of sacred, holy thing to me that I absolutely did not understand. I can’t put words to the peace that hovered over that room. When I would feel like I was just about to hyperventilate or shut myself in the bathroom and try not to scream, calm would rest on my shoulders. I had not asked for it. But it came. I was too scared to utter a word in prayer. Not one word. The emotions that were mulling around in my heart were totally foreign to me. Nothing can prepare you for what it is to watch a little person that you grew for nine months lay before your eyes. To touch those tiny fingers and watch a little chest try to breathe while you hold your own breath without even knowing it.
Perhaps God knew that I would need to know, with absolute certainty, that He was in control of things, not me. Maybe my white-knuckle grip on getting everything just right and aspiring to settle right in to perfectly lovely motherhood had to be loosened, right from the get go. I would come up with all sorts of “this must be why this all happened” scenarios over the next several years. Eventually though, the reality was clear. This wasn’t my story to write. There was definitely a story in the works. And we were indeed a part of it. But there was a bigger picture I couldn’t always see, a plan for my good, our good that wasn’t always my plan and God would love us in a thousand different ways as life would ebb and flow, fall apart and come back together.
It is impossible to me that we’ve been walking this journey since that Sunday afternoon in February ten short years ago. The delight to my heart my firstborn is defies every expectation I may have had. Certainly so much of the journey has not been what I thought I wanted, not been what I dreamed about. It is more somehow. It is a far better story than any I could have conjured up myself.