Before I gave birth, many people told me that my life would change the moment this kid arrived. Some said I would feel a bond like no other, that love would essentially cascade out of every pore in my body. Others told me I would be overcome with emotion, that my protective instincts would immediately kick in. None of this happened for me. After being in labor for 25 hours, having a resident tell me that the first 12 hours didn’t count (yes, I nearly killed her), having my water broken manually, being placed on Pitocin to assist with the contractions, getting an epidural that did not help ANY of my breakthrough pain, spiking a fever, and being exceptionally concerned that my son would go into distress, I was simply exhausted when he finally arrived. Apparently, so was he. That was the last night he slept all the way through until he turned 1.
He came out at 9 lbs and 8 oz. He’s remained a big kid since. From the moment he arrived, he’s eaten like a champ. I breast fed him until 6 months. At night, I was up every three hours. It was brutal. I was exhausted. Learning to be a parent, struggling to be a spouse and trying to return to work drained me daily. I couldn’t tell you how I felt about my son, or my husband, or even myself most days because my exhaustion eclipsed all sensation. I wish I could say otherwise, but some days are just blurs. I only know on what day he first turned over, and the day he began to walk because my husband videotaped both events. Good Lord.
Despite all of the things I didn’t do, all of the blurry memories, every moment of exhaustion, somewhere in those small moments, this kid and I built a bond that will never be broken. When he FINALLY began to sleep and I emerged from my stupor, I realized those instincts, those emotions blossomed while I was on autopilot. Throughout all of that, he crawled right into my heart.
Seemingly connected by invisible strings, he knows when I am balanced and when I am out of sorts. He knows when to hug me and when to give me distance. Make no mistake. He is 7, which means a great deal of the time video games, sports and superheroes are his primary conversation topics. I still don’t know the difference between a Marvel superhero and a DC superhero, which gets me in trouble routinely. With this noted, he’s completely on my frequency.
Initially, I worried when I didn’t feel as others said I should right out of the gate. As I look back, I realize I unfairly questioned myself. The bond forms when the bond forms. For some, it might be immediate. Mine took time. In the midst of exhaustion and chaos, diapers and formula, spit up and giggles, we built that bond. Here is the truth: it can’t be forced, and it is always created.
When we went for ice cream this past Sunday, he dabbed a bit above and below his lips, Turning to me with a big smile on his face, he then asked, “What do you think?”
As I laughed, and that string between us thrummed, I said in response, “Perfect, pal. Just perfect.”