my baby, my teacher: #4 everything is temporary

It has occurred to me that Naomi is going to teach me far more in her lifetime than I will ever teach her. She was teaching me before she was even born… so I thought I would start writing down the gems I’m learning in the hopes I’ll remember all the things to thank her for.

Naomi and I were in the Times Colonist on Saturday (Family 411: Bonds That Yield Benefits). So exciting. As a happy coincidence I had washed and blow dried my hair that day. Bonus. If you look at my wrist though you’ll see that there are two ratty hair elastics waiting to whip my locks into a ponytail at a moment’s notice. Naomi’s first newspaper appearance! Definitely going in the scrapbook (there isn’t a scrapbook yet. There will be a scrapbook).

The article mentions that there were “initial trials.”

Whoa Nelly, were. there. ever.

In the first few weeks I was completely bereft of the ability to apply perspective to anything that was happening in my life. Naomi was going to cry FOREVER. She was never EVER going to sleep. I was going to be a hot sweaty mess FOREVER. I was going to live the REST OF MY LIFE in sweatpants and every time I applied mascara it was going to end up running down my cheeks forming black/brown puddles on pukey t-shirts FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY DON’T EVEN TRY TO TELL ME OTHERWISE AND PULL OUT YOUR LOGIC SHIT RIGHT NOW.

One day about 2 weeks after Naomi was born I found myself in Naomi’s room. I was raw. Emotionally and physically I was the equivalent of numb-bitten scraped skin not yet healed over. I was exhausted to the point of confusion. Nursing made me clamp my eyes shut in protest. My neck muscles howled. I was permanently bracing for the cry that was going to come any second and jolt through me like lightening.

John walked in. He looked put together. He gave me a smile and a quiet “hey babe” and probably did something productive like fold a tiny receiving blanket. At that moment John’s put-togetherness frayed the last tenuous thread of my confidence and I had to ask a bad question that was only going to make me feel worse:

“Sometimes do you think to yourself…”

I paused. I paused because what I was about to mumble was unforgiveable. It would solidify my position as a terrible mother, a weak wife and a small human being. There was no way John felt the same way. No one was ever supposed to say or think it but here I was about to give it oxygen. I was going to say it. I had to because if I didn’t it was going to get Bigger and Scarier and pretty soon it would get so big it would need it’s own room and I would spend guilty minutes (hours?) trying to close the door on it and maybe I wouldn’t win.

“Sometimes do you think to yourself, Oh my god, what have we done?”

I couldn’t take it back.

I needed to take it back. I was floating and I was going to be slammed onto the ground. Exposed. Out of air.

And then, the reason I married this man boiled down to a heartful, shining kernel:

Oh yeah. Totally. I’m told it’s completely normal, everybody thinks that. Don’t worry babe, it’s supposed to suck sometimes.

I wasn’t an ogre. My transgression was excusable.

If I had brushed my teeth I would have smooched him all over.

I am learning that nothing lasts forever. I have had moments of hollow doubt but know those pass and leave me happily anticipating Naomi’s next hug. The challenging things are temporary (last month she went through a week when she shrieked all. the. time. Did you know your mind peels when accosted by the same shrill pitch over and over? It does.). The sweet things are temporary (the first conscious sound she made was a gutteral ahhh in the back of her throat. We used to talk back and forth that way. She doesn’t do it anymore). Last night she woke up at 9:40 and 11:01 and 12:30 and 2:22 and I-lost-track-after-that but tomorrow it will be different and in a few nights more she’s going to text me to say she’ll be home at midnight and I’ll long to shush her little body in the rocking chair by the light of night.

The good stuff and the challenging stuff is temporary and the really hard stuff makes room for incomparable shine.

We had trials initially. We’ll have more. They won’t outnumber the pearls. It’s all temporary.

I’ll keep learning.

Age (in newspaper photo): Just over 10 months

More my baby, my teacher

#3 naked parenting

#2 rest after eating

#1 born this way

14 Responses to “my baby, my teacher: #4 everything is temporary”

  1. Sonia says:

    What a beautiful, honest piece. One day, when I’m terrified by having a newborn, I hope I’ll remember this. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much! Don’t you worry- when you have your little one(s) you will pull on reserves you didn’t realize you had 🙂 It is tough sometimes, but as tough as tough can be at any one moment (hour/day) the beautiful is really so incredibly beautiful. It gets smoother quite quickly and the love you see in yourself for bean is beyond compare.

      I am *so* glad I know Naomi. I sit and smile at her in awe every day 🙂

  2. Amanda says:

    I love to read each entry in your blog. It always hits home as I have a 7 month old and 2 dogs. 🙂 I too said and felt the same thing after the birth of my son. I cried constantly for about 4 weeks (as he cried constantly due to his allergies of many things I was eating coming through my breastmilk including dairy). We both figured out what we were doing and things got a little easier, even though there are still bumps in the road but we figure it out day by day.

    • Thank you, Amanda! My heart goes out to you- the floor of hormones and emotions in the first weeks are INSANE! I am glad you were able to sort out his allergy challenges- I’ve heard of parents who struggled to discover what was going on for a year or more! Ack!

      I like what you said about how you “both figured out what we were doing”- it is such a partnership and a dance with such a learning curve for both. It’s neat to look down at your little one and realize how far you’ve come, isn’t it?

      You’re doing good, mama 🙂 Keep it up 🙂

  3. Derek says:

    What beautiful writing! And how insightful. My oldest (twins) are approaching 50, so your advice is far too late for me. But I do wish that I had the benefit of reading about your experiences when I was 21.

    And as I was reading it I was thinking ahead to Naomi’s teenage years, so your finish was a perfect fit.

    • Thank you very much, Derek! I can only imagine how challenging it must have been with twins- sleep deprivation x2, doubt x2, elation x2!

      I think this might be one of the benefits of having children in my 30’s- physically I think there would have been a major advantage to having Naomi in my 20’s but I have a perspective now that I didn’t 10 years ago. We’ll never know of course, but maybe 🙂

  4. Jason Elder says:

    pretty good insights. I’ll be sure to stop by and read more from you. thanks.

  5. Grandma says:

    Well Shauna Dee it is times like this, as your Mom and reading your blogs, talking and crying together, that I can tell you with NO hesitation it has all been worth it, and given the chance I would do it all over again.

    Love always and forever; Mom

  6. Mom of two says:

    I really relate to your postings. You are brave to be so honest and open in cyberland. For me, being a mom is the best, but most challenging experience.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Mom of 3 year old and 9 month old

    • Thank you so much for your comment and your support 🙂

      The best and most challenging indeed! I can only imagine how crazy it must be with 2 little ones moving about!

      Keep it up, mama- you are the *very* best mom your little ones could possibly have.

  7. Sarah says:

    Yeah, girl…seriously….you are amazing. Strong and smart and honest and brave and WONDERFUL! Thank you for this beautiful post. I have read and heard that often when parents have been waiting for a long time to conceive or adopt they feel even MORE guily when things are hard or when they have those dark moments of “what did we do?” Like so many things when people start talking and sharing their thoughts, they become not so dark and scary and we realize we are not alone and we are not horrible. This is such an important thing (to share and be truthful) and you do it so well, Shauna.
    Much love!
    Sarah xoxoxo

    • Thank you, Sarah! I had so many, “Why doesn’t anyone tell you this stuff?!!!” talks with my mom… and now I can hardly remember feeling that way! I know it was a raw whirlwind but now that seems like so long ago… in some ways it makes me sad because I feel like I missed out on some things because I was busy trying to keep it together- but I know I did the best I could at the time. Like we all do 🙂

      Thank you so much for your words. You are lovely 🙂

      Love ya, hun!