Even after all of that trauma, they wouldn't allow my husband to stay the night with me because I was sharing a room with another woman. Turns out she didn't come until the next day. Still, they made me spend the night with my new child- alone. Evil, hospital jerks.
That first night- alone together- was surreal. I didn't want them to take him into the nursery. I was convinced they were going to slip him some formula. Really. I was. So I acted like I had no problem breast feeding him on my own. Since I had just basically been gutted, it was a little harder than I thought it would be. Once I got him in my hands- I couldn't get him back into his bassinet. I had never had my ab muscles sliced through before, and didn't realize that this basically renders them unusable. Go figure.
So I spent that whole first night, awake- holding him.
A habit started that night- that would follow me on my parenting journey day in and day out. The vitals check.
|Adorable, yes. Scary, yes.|
I have checked to make sure that Lucien is breathing during every nap, nighttime sleep, or random time that he closes his eyes. Every single time he's closed his eyes. Since birth.
This can't be normal. Seriously, it can't. I come home from work and hover over his crib. I'm not staring at him lovingly. I'm checking for the rise and fall of his chest. Yup. He's breathing. Parenting success!
When I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, there's always another crib check. Yup. Still breathing! I understand why I did it in the beginning. Every doctor in the land terrifies parents with SIDS horror stories. Don't co-sleep! No crib bumpers! No pillows! No blankets! Is that a mother fucking teddy bear? What are you, crazy? To hear them tell it, it's a miracle that any child makes it through the night, alive.
The question is- why I'm still doing it now? Or more importantly- will I be doing this for the rest of his life? I'm beginning to wonder if my mother checks if I'm breathing when I visit her. Got to make a mental note to ask her that.
Turns out that it's the experience of this sheer horror- day in and day out- that makes a parent, a parent. What else would explain the fascination with every little, insignificant thing our children do? I'm convinced we're just totally shocked that we've somehow managed to keep them alive long enough to do anything at all.
My friends often make fun of me for being a paranoid parent. This exchange usually goes something like this:
Me: Oh God, don't push him so close to the curb. Brooklyn drivers are fucking crazy.
Me: Did you just give him a whole grape? Are you trying to kill him?
Me: Don't even think about carrying him out onto that balcony.
Any random friend: Jeez, Maria. Relax. You're being paranoid.
Me: Really? Am I? Am I being paranoid? Well, why don't you carry something for nine months and get it sliced from your womb. THEN WE'LL TALK ABOUT WHO'S PARANOID! Jerk.
Any random friend: Um, okay.
Yes, motherhood is horrifying. It's also amazing that I have any friends left.