Every mom remembers that moment when the doctor places their first child in their arms. I’m going to be perfectly honest here, that moment was a little uncomfortable for me. My oldest daughter was born a month early and I wasn’t quite emotionally ready for her when she was born. When I was on the delivery table and the doctor told me to go ahead and start pushing, all I could think of was, Just hold on a second here! I’m having second thoughts on this whole motherhood thing. I’m not ready to start pushing because I’m not ready to be a mother yet. Let’s all just take a little break here and discuss this like adults.
Realizing that these thoughts were futile, I threw them out of my mind and obediently started pushing. Ten minutes and a set of forceps later Cecily was in my arms. Again, my reaction was a little strange. Because she was a month early, Cecily was super skinny, weighing in at 5 lbs. 11 oz. She had really long skinny arms and legs. Her nose was smashed flat against her face and her ears were curled up against her head. She had some pretty good bruising on her head where they used the forceps to pull her out. When I got my first look at her the my only thought was, I just gave birth to a spider monkey!
I think that the nurse could see that I was holding her a little awkwardly. She took her from me, cleaned her up, ran the Apgar tests, bundled her up and handed her back to me. At that point I felt that I bonded with my baby. I had time to take a few deep breaths and accept the whole motherhood thing. That’s when I fell in love with my daughter. That’s when I became a mother.
Fast forward a few years to when I had my two sons. I love baby boys! They are hysterical! They are especially hysterical when they come after an extremely feminine girl. Little boys are all roly-poly. Their little diapered behinds look so cute in a tiny pair of jeans. They make little boy grunts that are so different from the sweet little dove coos that come from girls. They’re so physical and they are always moving. All of this combined makes it so sublime when they stop moving for just a few moments and sit on their momma’s lap. When the only thing that moves is their big belly which goes up and down as they breathe. That is a great feeling for the mom of a boy. But unfortunately it only lasts for a few brief seconds and then they are right back to being roly-poly, physical boys.
One of my favorite things about my little boys was squeezing their little bum cheeks when they were in the bathtub. I would say to them, “Someday you won’t let me squeeze your naked rumpy, so I have to get all of it in now, while I still can.” Sadly, the day did come when I was no longer able to do this. At 11 and 13, they don’t particularly appreciate my reaching my hand into their showers and squeezing their bottoms. Sniff!
So, what got me thinking about all of this was today when my 6-year-old Elizabeth woke up with a fever. She slept half the night in our bed between me and Jason. This morning I asked her if she wanted some breakfast and she shook her red-cheek face. So I picked her up and carried her into the kitchen, set her down on a bar stool and fed her breakfast. But during that walk from the bedroom to the kitchen I thought how grateful I was that I could still carry my baby. After about one more inch growth I will no longer be able to carry her. It will probably be about that time that she will no longer want to sit on my lap. That makes me sad. I think that right there will officially end my tenure as a mother of little kids. But for now, it’s the last thing I have to hold onto, both literally and figuratively. For a few more months I can still carry my baby and hold her on my lap, feeling how perfectly moms’ and babies’ bodies mold together.
Once this is over, I will officially be an old lady.
(Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth.)
One thought on “Holding Babies”
You have quite accurately and beautifully defined the moment when being a parent of a child ends. I can’t remember, exactly, when the bathroom thing ended for our son or the girls. But, end it did. And then, nobody had explained to me how quickly children transition into young adulthood. It seemed to happen all at once, in the blink of an eye. I wasn’t ready for it. So, enjoy the moments you have left, write another post about your baby so we can all remember to hold onto those moments just a little longer.