During the long, cold winter of my pregnancy, I heard this refrain over and over again from women who had walked in my (heavy-footed and recently-widened) pregnant shoes before me. And I have to be honest, I was really nervous that I wouldn't feel the same way; I shared all of the fears other pregnant women did about becoming a mom for the first time, and then some. Motherhood was a journey that I wasn't certain I would ever take. For all of my 20s and first few years of my 30s, having a baby was the furthest thing from my mind. I have always been extremely career-oriented, starting at age 10 when I began my first career as a child actor. While, I've also always had and deeply valued romantic partnerships, the prospect of having children just seemed so far off, destined for other people; not for me.
But then, I met my husband and became a stepmother, another role I'd never envisioned for myself, but one that I've grown to love. For the first time, ever, in my life, there was a child I got to spend time with regularly and really grew to love this time. Still, for a couple of years, I couldn't really picture myself becoming a biological parent. I had just never been "one of those girls" who wanted kids. Yet, gradually, I began to find myself surrounded by more children than I'd ever spent time with in my life - my friends started to enter parenthood and my newly extended family was ripe with children. The questions soon started to infiltrate my staunchly-career oriented mind: did I want to have a baby? COULD I have a baby? How would a baby fit into my life? How the hell does one take care of a baby?
It happened faster than I was ready for. When my husband and I decided that we wanted to have a kid, I foolishly assumed it would take months of "trying" (a term I hate). I figured I would have some time to "adjust" to the idea. Instead, I got pregnant almost immediately and spent the next few weeks feeling depressed, confused, and terrified. I decided to trust in the choice I had made and over the next few months of pregnancy (some of) my fears subsided and I started to really embrace the journey I was on. "Embrace" is far different from "like" however. I soon realized that I hated the actual state of pregnancy - being limited, mobility-wise is extremely challenging for me, and the hormones, incessant food cravings, and weight gain is, in my opinion, for the birds.
But then, on May 25th, 2018, at 1:49 a.m., I discovered that it was all, without a doubt, 100% worth it. Oliver Cayde Barton-Wall ("Ollie C.") entered this world with eyes wide-open. From the moment he was placed on my chest, I knew, without an iota of doubt, that all the months of worry, fatigue, and hormonal craze was a small price to pay for the heart-quaking love I felt for this little guy.
New mommy-hood is a trip. I find myself staring at Ollie frequently, still in shock that my body created this perfect creature that I get to take care of and love and watch grow. My life feels like it's finally complete. I think deep down I always wanted this, but it took a very long time to realize it.
I am nearing the end of my self-imposed "maternity leave." As a self-employed person, I had NO idea how much time I should take off, so I Googled "how much time most women take off after having a baby," and, as depressing as it is, 6 weeks seemed to be the average amount of time. I now realize just how heart-wrenchingly fast 6 weeks is with a newborn. I am also grateful that I love my job and that I will still have plenty of time to spend with him when I "go back to work" in about a week. (Jesse is currently back at work and loving being able to get back into the swing of things.)
Though I've only known him for 6 weeks, Ollie has already changed me in numerous ways. For one, I am, finally, learning how to slow down. Here's the reality: when you have a newborn, you are capable of accomplishing approximately one-third of what you were able to before (and that's on a good day). On the occasions I find myself becoming stressed out, it's usually because I'm trying to simultaneously respond to emails, answer texts, and feed myself, while also attempting to do "tummy time" with my baby. Guess what? It ain't possible. I am most at peace when I am able to drop all unnecessary tasks that can wait (like washing every last dish) and can just focus on the things that require my immediate attention. I am a certified yoga teacher, but I have never managed to achieve the "in the moment-ness" that taking care of a newborn requires. Namaste, y'all.
Another thing motherhood is teaching me, and has since Ollie was first conceived, is good old-fashioned humility. I have never had to rely more on others in my life, which is challenging for a this hugely self-reliant gal. But, I need help with a lot of things now and for the sake of my child, I have had to learn how to ask for them. I am still very much working on this piece. There's also the intense humility of having to learn a whole new baby vocabulary and activity-doing. Prior to this journey, I had never once put a onesie on a baby, been peed and spit-up on routinely, and had no idea what a "layette" was. Oh, and the first time I had to attach the car seat to the stroller was a real laugh-riot!
But perhaps the most amazing and beautifully surprising part of being a new mother is that I've realized just how large my capacity to love is. I absolutely adore this little boy with a ferocity unmatched by anything I've ever felt and a patience that continuously astounds this formerly-crazed, go-go-go, 14-year veteran of New York City. In short, motherhood has changed me, immensely. It's softened my hard layers, and deepened my gratitude to levels I didn't know existed. It's made me less selfish and more forgiving.
And it was, as they say, and as I can now join the ranks in saying, It was all worth it.