On Motherhood

11 Mar

By today’s standards, I waited a good while before having my second child. I get the whole “two under two” and “done with diapers” things, they just weren’t my bag. Instead, my kids are three and a half years apart to the week. In hindsight I am so glad that I did wait; (for so many reasons, not the least of which being my current journey.)

This past week my family went away. I was with my husband, my parents, my daughter who is a month shy of four years old and my four month old. This trip got me thinking a lot; a lot about where I’ve been most acutely and recently, and also in my “career” as a mom.

When I was getting ready for my second child, I did not anticipate how utterly, astoundingly and completely different everything would be (from penis to postpartum.)

But I am different now. So much has changed in the world and in my life and in me.

For instance, in shopping in the hotel sundry store for a rash guard for my daughter, I did a few things that I never would have done 3 and a half years ago: First, I bought the shirt in navy blue. Then, I joked with the woman behind the counter about my stretch marks. And then I voluntarily shared with her that I am no longer nursing my son. (I am still the queen of TMI, some things just don’t change, evidently.)

Later that day, my son had a poopy diaper at the pool. The family bathroom was occupied (seemingly indefinitely) so I braved the regular ladies room and changed him right there on the floor. A far cry from how I used to agonize about taking the baby anywhere, let alone changing him.

When people ask me how old my son is, I say “four months”. Really, he is four and a half. With my first child I would have said something like, “Oh he’s a day shy of 18.5 weeks” (and I am totally making up that number of weeks as I have no idea how many weeks my son has been here.)

And I really got to thinking about this on the plane ride home. By the way, I still don’t like to fly. Why couldn’t that have miraculously changed?! Come on, man!

And I thought about the Flight Attendant’s instructions. In case of a decrease in cabin pressure, you are to put on your own mask before assisting anyone else. Including the person next to you. Including your child.

This goes against every inherent instinct we have and also against the grain of what we are taught as mothers; we are taught that sacrifice=love.

But now I am beginning to realize, slowly, the healthier mom actually=healthier baby. That is why I gave up nursing my son at 10 weeks, despite my desperation to remain a “breastfeeding mother”.

I was just putting on my own oxygen mask.

And because I was able to breathe, to suck air into my lungs without passing out, I have been better equipped to take care of my children than I would have otherwise.

During our flight’s landing I was able to ease my son’s ear pressure by sticking my finger in his mouth and letting him suck. My hands were clean, but still…Never would I have dared to touch my baby’s mouth with my finger three and a half years ago. But I didn’t have my boob to go-t0 and the finger did the job and he was happy and did not make a peep the entire flight. And it soothed him. Which soothed me.

So sometimes sacrifice just equals sacrifice.

But love always equals love.

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