We moved to Prague, “The City of a Thousand Spires,” just over a year ago when I was about seven months pregnant. Apparently we decided we’d make all of our big life changes in one fell swoop. Go big or stay home, right? Well as big of an adventure as it was to move to a foreign country, it was really nothing compared to embarking on the journey of motherhood.
Jonah was born on April 6th, 2011 in Prague and life as we knew it would never be the same. I’m not really one for cliches-for future reference please don’t buy me any of those gifts with sayings about “moments that take our breath away” blah, blah, blah-they just don’t ring true with me. Maybe I’m just not the sentimental type. For some reason though, I just kept waiting for those cliches to come true when Jonah was born.
Despite all my education and knowledge about what I thought it must be like to have a baby, nothing can truly prepare you for having a child of your own. When Jonah was born, it was an amazing experience, but it felt almost out of body for me. When I looked at his tiny little red face I did not feel any of those cliches that you hear about women feeling when their children are born. He was sweet and it was great, but it just didn’t feel real. Yet.
Those first few hours, days, and (let’s just be real) months were a little bit of a rude awakening for me about just exactly what I’d signed up for with this motherhood gig. I was still waiting for those cliches to kick in but they were nowhere to be found. So seriously-who are those people that perpetuate these cliches about the early days of motherhood? Those people who make it seem like those first few days and weeks are nothing but pure bliss where you and your new little family are cocooned in love and everything is simple and easy and lovely. Pure bliss. What baby do those people have??? Sure, maybe it was a little bit naive of me to think it would be easy-I do have a degree in Child and Family Development and I’ve been working with babies and toddlers for many years now for Pete’s sake. I didn’t expect it to be quite that easy and blissful, but I really didn’t expect it to be SO hard.
I will spare you all the long drawn out details, but I will just say this: I slept about 2 out of 24 hours immediately after my delivery and this was not a fluke-it was just a prelude of what my little man had in store for us. We later found out that Jonah had a dairy sensitivity and reflux and in general he was just pretty miserable for his first five or six months. This obviously meant that we were pretty miserable as well. Still no cliches to be found. I remember talking to my friends who also had young babies in those early days of motherhood and we all had no clue why people continued to have children after having the first.
It is hard in the beginning-don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In those early days I remember thinking that those people who do tell you otherwise are just delusional or lying. But then something crazy happened. The hours turned into days that turned into months and suddenly ten of them had flown by and my little miserable newborn was a happy , sweet little boy. As he has grown, so has my love and I have found myself thinking “oh those first few months weren’t that bad.” I’ve looked at pictures of when he was two weeks old and actually felt nostalgic. In fact the other day I actually mentioned to my husband that I want another baby, like maybe now. His response: “what is wrong with you??” I, along with many mothers, have discovered the great mystery of how we continue to procreate as a species and it is has got to be due to this phenomenon of “mommy amnesia.” (Apparently my husband has not been so quick to forget those tough sleepless nights 🙂 ) The many great moments we have once we get past those early days and the love we feel for our child helps us to completely block out those bad days and moments and to remember the beauty of those early days. It was there after all, I just couldn’t see it in my sleep deprived, weary, emotional, hormonal state.
And now the cliches just don’t stop. Time really does go so fast when you have a child and those early days don’t seem quite SO bad because in the grand scheme of things they really don’t last very long at all. I catch myself all the time thinking about how fast time is going and how before I know it Jonah will be driving then going off to college then sending me to the old folks’ home (well let’s hope I raise him better than that). See, I’m telling you with the cliches. They are all true. Time does fly, and they aren’t little forever, and motherhood is the most wonderful thing in the world…ugh I have to stop there. Only so many cliches at a time please. Of course there are still moments and days and sometimes weeks where I don’t feel quite so blissful, but in general there are many, many times that I stop and look around and realize how happy I am and what a joy it is to be a mother. But still, if you buy me a plaque to hang on the wall about how “the present is a gift” or something like that, it will go in the trash. I may now be a believer in those cliches, but I still don’t want them hanging on my walls.