When Raynor’s sleeping, I sneak up behind him and I breathe in that pheromone-y, stinky-sweet baby smell of his neck. I’m flooded with emotions and thoughts. This happens every time, only tonight I will try to put them into words.
The lesson of unconditional love
This 16-pound little human being has taught me a lifetime of lessons in five months. The most important one is unconditional love. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband. Deeply, fiercely, passionately. But right or wrong, comprehendible to others or not, the love I have for my son is different. For the first time in my mind, there is absolutely no doubt that I will always love him, no matter what, and there is nothing in the world at all that I would not do for him. Having unconditional love for someone is heaven on earth.
The lesson of priorities
The things that I used to spend time on – beauty routines, make up, organizing receipts, putting clothes away, working out, art classes, cleaning my car – these things have all given way to caring for a newborn and my life has not fallen apart because I take 2 minute showers, haven’t exfoliated in months and drive around a portable closet. No, my life now is richer than before.
The lesson of gratitude
Raynor was born with a unilateral incomplete cleft lip, bifid uvula, a tiny hole in his palate and a larger sub mucous cleft palate, and one more thing that I just found out at after his surgery but don’t know what it is. Thanks to the fact that I happen to live in the United States in this century, my son had a fantastic surgeon who successfully and skillfully repaired the cleft lip. I’ve had parents tell me they couldn’t even tell.
Yet there were so many dark moments – before his birth since we had found out the diagnosis during an ultrasound as well as these past several months – that I have experienced. At first it was the fear and anger towards what I perceived others would think about my son. Then it was a profound sadness as we approached his surgery, and the stress of the surgery itself. No eating for four hours before surgery. Getting there by 5:30 a.m. Seeing his little face stitched up and body in pain as nurses gave him morphine through his IV drip, and trying to breastfeed with his new, tight, painful lip. Watching him recover and wondering if I’ve scarred this little guy for life; as he healed, his smile was much smaller than before and he seemed sad at first. He lost weight and even now, three weeks post-op I wonder if he’s as healthy as he was before the surgery.
But every day I have with my son is a blessing. I would say to anyone who is reading this that when your life seems bad, take a walk through the surgical stay unit of a children’s hospital. It should put your life in perspective (at least if you have kids). It did mine.
The lesson on patience and maybe sacrifice
I grew up an only child and I’m probably kind of selfish by nature. Being a parent really puts an end to that. Like all parents, I’ve spent hours trying to put him to sleep before. I’ve weathered crying and screaming, hourly feedings and ungodly poops. I’ve dealt with Dad and the stress of having a baby upon our marriage. Yes, I love my husband, but I would be a liar if I didn’t say that parenting is probably the most stressful thing Vanilla and I have had to go through together since we met seven years ago.
You learn patience because you and your child can’t survive without it. The best part is, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.
I could probably go on and on. The cliche about parenthood changing someone is absolutely true. There are things I understand now because I’m a mom, and I know that there are certain things that only parents can understand. Things like child abuse or sick kids affect me differently now. Of course, in my pre-parenthood days, these things bothered me – but now it’s on a new level.
I won’t go on anymore now because honestly, I’m tired, and my sleeping baby awaits.