Our little girl turned one week old on Monday, and it’s hard to believe that she’s only been here for that long. After only seven days, Tallulah has already changed our lives so drastically, pushing us to love more and work harder than we ever thought possible. Our hearts have expanded to one million times their original sizes, and all of our worries have done the same.
A couple hours after I gave birth, our delivery nurse walked (and wheeled) us into our postpartum room, and with a few words, the door was shut and we were left alone with this brand new, fragile baby. Of course, Tallulah began crying immediately, and we became overwhelmed with anxiety. Both of us had never even held a newborn before, and now we were responsible for being the sole care providers for one. What were we thinking bringing a baby into this world? How could we be so naive to think we could actually handle this? We already felt like failures, and our panic just made her panic even more. After hearing Tallulah’s cries (and ours), a nurse came into the room, and walked us through the different things a cry could signal. Tallulah wasn’t hungry. She was warm and didn’t need to be burped. Finally, the nurse placed her on my chest, skin to skin, and Tallulah stopped crying. Just like that. “Sometimes, babies just need their mommies,” she said to me, and that’s when it really hit me. I’m a mommy. I’m her mommy. It’s not some far off dream I’m planning for and worrying about anymore. It’s here and now, and I have a tiny little human counting on me to be the best mommy I’m capable of being.
Slowly over the course of this week, I’ve started to navigate this role, feeling out what my baby needs from me and surprising myself with what I’m equipped to give her. I’m hardwired to want to be perfect, to be the best at everything, and because of this, I’ve felt like a failure for most of this week. I take every cry as a sign that I’m doing something wrong. I’m learning how to accept my best, though, and not beat myself up for every misstep. I have never encountered a task this challenging in my life, and no book could have fully prepared me for the exhausting cocktail of sleepless nights, a slowly recovering body and a little girl that needs something constantly. While I don’t have a wealth of baby knowledge, though, I do have a ridiculous amount of love for Tallulah. And that love, that all-encompassing love that I can feel down to my bones, is helping me to identify what each cry means and nurse her for the millionth time when my body is so tired and make the daily difficult decisions about what she needs. It’s giving me the strength I need to be the best mommy I can be.
Of course, even with all of the love in the world, I needed a lot of help this week after we brought Tallulah home. We were very lucky to have friends and family that brought by food, cleaned our house and made countless trips to Target for us. I have been living almost solely off of delicious meals made by Joe’s mom. I am especially grateful to my mother, who came to stay with us for our first night home and extended that visit by many days when it was clear that we still needed her. She stayed up until the wee hours with us, wrangled our jealous cat and listened without judgement to my hysterical crying fits about not being a good enough mother for Tallulah. She truly showed me what it means to be a mom this week: to love unconditionally and give so much of yourself to your children. My mother is a perfect role model of what I hope to be some day for our baby girl, and that inspiration was just what I needed to get me through another discouraging night of nothing working.
And while I have loved watching our little girl grow and change with every day that passes, I have equally loved watching my husband change as he takes on this new role of a dad. I knew Joe could be selfless and loving before, but Tallulah has brought out these qualities in him tenfold. He’s head over heels in love with her, and because of that, he’s willing to do whatever she needs at the drop of a hat. He has changed the lion’s share of her diapers (even the blow-out, up her back kind), will spend hours talking to our baby girl with her on his shoulder, and What to Expect The First Year has replaced every comic book on his night stand. I already admired him before, but it is truly a gift to see him develop into this even more perfect man. I am so happy to have him as my partner in this parenting journey, and I know that with him by my side, I can get through every terrifying noise that she makes, days without sleep and crying bouts that last for hours.
And our girl… just look at her. She’s perfect! Like any mother-to-be, I spent hours thinking about what my baby would look like and sound like, about how she would feel in my arms. As soon as they placed her on my chest and she looked up at me, I was in love, and that love has only grown more and more everyday she’s with us. I spend hours just staring at her face, dreaming about her future, and feeling so very lucky that I get to be the mother of this beautiful little baby. And again, it’s only been a week. That’s all it took for her to gain complete control of my heart. I can’t wait to see how she causes it to grow even bigger in the weeks to come.