Life with Stinky

May 19, 2006 on 9:00 pm | In Motherhood | No Comments

Stinky is almost 3 months old. The idea that I am her mother has finally sunk in. For the longest time, I felt like an exceptionally hard-working baby-sitter, and that Stinky’s family would come to claim her soon. Reality seemed surreal even though I had daydreamed about it my whole life. From a very young age, I couldn’t wait to be a mother. At ten, I vowed I would have a child by age eighteen. At eighteen I pushed it back to age twenty-three. At twenty-three I was struggling to support myself so I promised to “do it” by my late 20′s. By my mid 20′s I was content with having a child by thirty. That was my plan until I unexpectedly became pregnant at 26 last June. I have seen first-hand that fertility is a gift and not a right. Pregnancy came with mixed emotions but I was grateful to have been able to conceive a child so easily. My thoughts the first three months of my pregnancy focused on the alien growing inside me. There were no outward signs of her life, but many subtle signs that my life was forever altered. The first time I saw her, I had been her host for eight weeks. On the ultrasound screen she looked like a gummy bear suspended inside me. Her tiny heartbeat flickered on the screen and her eyes were dark circles in her head. An alien gummy bear, if I ever saw one. Nevertheless, love for this little human started swelling inside me. I felt connected to her now. It didn’t take me long to decide she was a she. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew and I was certain. We can chalk it up to mother’s intuition, for lack of a real explanation. I didn’t see her again for another 12 weeks. This time as we spied on her inside her home, it was clear she was human. And although I could not tell what the doctor was pointing at, he declared this human to be female. With that her name was chosen and I decided that to me, she would be Stinky. Why? I have no real explanation for that either. It is just who she was to me. The first 20 weeks being her hostess had flown by, by the last 20 weeks were crawling by. Thirty-eight weeks after Stinky’s conception I was granted a reprieve. It was declared that Stinky was quickly outgrowing her home and that she must relocate immediately. Two days later, Stinky was evicted from my womb and relocated to a much bigger space. Upon pushing her out of her beloved home, she began to cry as did I. In that moment I felt such a sense of accomplishment and fufillment. But as quickly as those feelings came, they went. Uncertainty set in. I knew how to care for a baby but not how to mother her. Thus, I felt like her baby-sitter. I loved her with all my heart and did the very best I could to take care of her. I was not suffering from post partum depression or hormonal imbalances, I simply did not associate myself with the motherhood. On her fourth night of life, I sobbed that every moment that passed with her was gone forever. I wanted her frozen in time so that she would never grow up. (That night I do believe I was hormonalyl imbalanced!) For nearly three months I’ve changed diapers, dragged my tired butt out of bed to feed her, sung lullabies, and taken many, many pictures, all the while wondering when my time as her baby-sitter would end and my time as her mother would begin. For me, the shift has been gradual. Who you are and who you see yourself as, does not change overnight. The feeling of being a mom has grown inside of me very slowly. But just in the last couple of weeks, Stinky’s budding personality has started to emerge and she’s reaching milestones, and I look at myself and know that the most important thing I am is her mother. My daughter rolled over today for the first time. When I saw her do it, I thought it had to have been a fluke thing. I made her demonstrate her ability to roll over another half dozen times before I started excitedly making phone calls declaring Stinky had mastered this skill. My heart has soared with pride all day long. Just like a mom’s should.

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