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Monday, August 16, 2010

Thinking about a birthday


I am in the thick of planning my oldest daughter's birthday party.  Not that it takes that much planning, just a bunch of organization issues that occupy my brain.  Whenever it comes to this time of year though, I am thinking of how I felt now 4 years ago at this time as my first pregnancy was coming to an end.

It was hot, I was big and wanted to get that baby out.  Just like most moms feel at the end.  But I couldn't wait for what was to come.  Everyone would say that it is easier to have a baby inside than out, but I couldn't wait to meet her.  I can remember standing in her nursery every night, listening to her Baby Einstein CDs and wondering, not having a clue, just what was in store for me.

And on her birthday I am full of these thoughts.  I think about going to the doctor that morning and learning that I would be admitted to the hospital.  About my mom coming to take care of her daughter so that I could take care of mine.  Waiting for my husband to get off work and meet me there so that we could meet our baby.  About all the people who came to witness and share in the excitement of that moment.

That most special of moments when you give birth to a human form of love.  Your first child.

I remember her cry right away.  It was loud and shrill like, announcing to the world that she is here; much like she does every morning.  I remember, maybe through pictures or maybe because it was a "push pause" moment; touching her hand, feeling her fingers and not believing that this thing, this child, was mine.  Wondering if I was capable of handling this task.

I remember taking her home.  And having many visitors almost immediately.  My mom kissing me good-bye leaving us alone with our child.  And feeling lost.  Feeling that despite all my accomplishments, despite all my training, that maybe I would not be able to do this.  I can still feel the wave of strong emotions that come with being post partum, the horrible feeling of not feeling quite like myself, and wondering if this feeling would be permanent.

I put myself back in that room waiting to give birth.  The girl sitting there is me, only different.  Less seasoned.  No one yet calling her "mommy".  She is full of (the usual) worry and angst and uncertainty.  About her job of being a mom.  And a wife.  And a doctor.  And how to balance it all.  If she could balance it all.  How to manage if the scale tipped in one direction on a day her child was sick.  Or if it tipped in the other direction requiring her round on a day that she had no child care.  Feeling like there was no one who paved the way, and that she was out there, on her own.

It came at once, and at the same time.  No more attendings to supervise my patient care after residency. No one looking over my shoulder to tell me if I was doing this "mommy thing" just right.  Just me and my most basic of instincts.  My "mommy" instinct.

And now, the post partum fog has lifted.  I can look back of the last 4 years and know that I made it.  I have proven, mostly to myself, that I am capable and up to this task.    I have learned, among other things, about being patient, loving, and picking your battles.  I have grown to love my husband more by seeing him excel as a father.  And so far, I have 2 healthy and happy children that make my everyday brighter.

And that is something to celebrate.
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Do you celebrate the 'birth' of your child on their birthday?
How did you feel at the end of your pregnancy?
Did you experience a 'post partum fog'?  Have the clouds parted?