I don’t remember what I thought when I first saw Devin. Probably something like, “Thank god that’s over” followed by, “Huh. So that’s what you look like”, all while feeling completely overwhelmed and wondering what to do now. I didn’t, despite what countless gushing birth stories say, feel a surge of instant love and mothering instinct. I mostly just felt shocked.
It was probably the first night, sitting on my bed watching him sleep, that I felt really connected to him. I cried. I saw his entire life stretched out, dependent on me. I felt excited about all the possibilities, anxious about all the responsibilities, and then suddenly very upset that something bad might happen to him.
And feeling all of that made me even more aware of the significance of what was changing in my life. And I cried harder, because it was momentarily too much for me to bear. I had never felt so intensely happy and so deeply afraid.
It took a few weeks to feel normal again. Before that, I was in the strange, emotional fog that is so sweetly called the Baby Blues, at a temporary loss for who I was and what I was doing.
I don’t recall it being a gradual change. One day, I just realised I was content with my life and happy with who I am. Considering I began treatment for depression only a year before Devin was born, it was a particularly fortunate outcome. (Shouldn’t everyone be so lucky, huh.)
Apart from that little existential crisis, becoming a parent has, for me, been worthy of neither snarky cynicism nor soaring, intensely emotional and fluffy prose. Being a parent so far is awesome and testing and fun and frustrating, just like any other aspect of life.
It’s sometimes looking forward to Devin waking up from naps so we can play and chat, and sometimes just wanting him to sleep so I can be alone for a little while.
It’s some days arranging meals properly so that he has three solid meals followed by bottles, even if solid feeds are much messier and time consuming and involve trying to hold the baby back in the chair because he won’t stop rocking back and forth and getting carrot EVERYWHERE.
It’s some days putting green beans and rusks and toast crust straight into those grabby little hands because I don’t want to deal with the high chair and bibs and spoons.
It’s getting fluff out of those elastic band folds in chubby arms and legs.
It’s, “Ouch, no, that’s my hair!”
It’s the thought of changing just “one more nappy is almost too much, and oh man, what am I doing? How did we end up here? Who is this little person? I’m going back to bed to hide.”
It’s feeling proud about normal human abilities like sitting up, eating and sleeping.
It’s not my lap, it’s a trampoline.
It’s pretending we don’t notice all the staring strangers at the mall, and stopping briefly for the little kids who want to see the ‘bubba’.
It’s taking ridiculous measures just so we don’t have to hear the crying again. It’s saying ‘boo!’ and flourishing a scarf fifty times in a row; whispering; tickling; aeroplane-ing; jiggling; singing; dancing; babbling and making silly noises. It’s letting him just have the bowl of pureed spinach because he’s messy anyway and he’s not eating it and he won’t stop reaching for it.
It’s regretting letting him have the bowl of pureed spinach, and learning a lesson.
It’s the moment of peace and contentment after rocking him to sleep but before putting him down.
It’s being grossed out by the trails of drool, but appreciating the ‘kisses’ that leave them all the same.
It’s sometimes having to hand him to the other person because you can’t handle the whining/ squirming/ hair-pulling any more.
It’s staring at him and thinking, “Oh man. I made him.” And feeling kind of pleased about it, too.