My husband and I were talking the other day about how when you have children you just expect that they'll be miniature versions of you, and how you'll just love them because of that. And then as you have children, you realize that though they may carry some of your physical traits, and possibly some of your temperamental traits, they really are just individuals that you have to learn to work with in a very intimate way.
I remember when my sweet Sophia Louise was born. I looked at her and saw nothing familiar. It was the strangest feeling to me. With both of my boys before her, I felt somehow connected to them while they were still in the womb, and though I didn't "recognize" their facial features when they were born, I did feel like I recognized their spiritual features.
When I was pregnant with Sophia I struggled with feeling that same connection with her in the womb. I feared that meant something was wrong, or that I wouldn't be connected to her throughout her life. So she was born and I stared at her with complete unfamiliarity. No physical features made sense...she reminded me a cat. Her eyes were intense, her eyebrows so strong, her lips so pointy, and she had this distinct line that connected her nose to her lips.
We had a not-so-great experience at the hospital when she was born. It was the weekend before the 4th of July and the hospital was on skeleton staff. I have had c-sections with each of my babies (much to my disappointment), and after this one it seemed they doped me up on morphine at tremendous levels. I couldn't stay awake, and was so miserable trying to fight it. I couldn't fight it. I wasn't in control of my body with all the drugs they were pumping into me.
On day 2 or 3, I don't really remember (time melted together and I slept through most of it), I finally was coming off of the cocktail they'd given me. With a job and 2 kids at home, my husband had been in and out of the hospital, and had assumed the hospital nurses and doctors were doing their job in checking in on me and Sophia, so he wasn't very aware of the goings on at the hospital. I looked at my daughter laying in the little bed next to mine, and realized she hadn't nursed since I could remember. I looked at her diaper log, and realized that no one had noted anything since the first few hours of her birth. I looked over at my board and realized no one had checked in on me all day.
Jason came in within the hour and I asked him to pick her up so I could feed her again. I asked him the last time she ate, and he asked me if I'd fed her during the day. Honestly, I was so knocked out from my meds that I slept all day. It had been almost 8 hours since she'd nursed last. I felt terrible and he handed her to me, but we couldn't get her to wake up.
We rang the nurses, who took their time in coming to us, and we were very upset. "Why hasn't anyone been checking her urine output?" "Why hasn't anyone been massaging my stomach?" (A necessity after a c-section.) "Why hasn't anyone come in to pick her up for me to nurse, or to get me up to walk around?" "Why hasn't anyone checked my bleeding?"
Turns out the staff was very negligent, and not only was I having some health issues due to their lack of doing their jobs, but my daughter was quickly slipping into a diabetic coma. We could not wake her. We rubbed her back vigorously. Nothing. We took her clothes off. Nothing. We rubbed ice on her back...barely phased her, and she slept right through it.
Through all the grogginess I somehow got mad. Hell hath no fury like that of a mother. My child HAD to wake up. She had to nurse. I needed it for my health, as much as she did. Literally. My uterus had retained all the post-partum bleeding and was not contracting from the nursing (also from the lack of massage).
Despite the unfamiliarity, and almost detachment feelings, my instincts as a mother kicked in, and I kept her on my breast for hours. She would suckle a little here and a little there. I would rub her back vigorously and cause her all sorts of annoyances to get her wake each time she'd drift off. She wouldn't take a bottle, but luckily this was enough to give her what she needed to come out of her stupor.
I have often stared at this creature in the years since those beginning moments of her life. I have awed over her beauty, and she has often reminded me of a cat still. She is fierce and FULL of LIFE. She is one of my very best friends, and I pray that she always will be. I love her so, so much. She is turning seven this month, and I've been impressed with how much growth she has experienced in the last year. Her reading has taken off, she plays the piano (without my asking her too), and does it beautifully. She has offered help many times, without asking. She has the ability and often shows it, to empathize with others. She is creative beyond measure. And she has started recognizing some of her weaknesses already, and is taking steps to find solutions. In just a few short years of life she has gone from unrecognizable, to one of my most treasured relationships.
She has learned to roll with life's punches. She has taught me some good lessons. One of my favorite: Sometimes, all you need to do is be a little silly, and stop taking life so seriously.
Definitely something I need to take to heart.