I felt excited beyond words to leave the hospital the day after Lillian was born. This had been my first stay in that fine establishment, and I just wanted to get home where I wasn't woken up by a blood pressure cuff or a nurse coming in every few hours to press on my now deflated uterus. I wanted to go home. While Luke and his family chatted and stared at my sleeping, swaddled daughter, I was rushing around the room packing up everything because it was time to go.
We arrived home in the late afternoon and everything was fine. She was sleeping in the Pack and Play in our room, and Luke and I stared at each other with looks of, “Well… now what?” This was going to feel like a breeze, right?
I don’t remember much about that first night—I don’t know if any mother really does—but what I do remember is heartbreaking. I remember sitting on the couch, both Lillian and I crying our little eyes out, and saying over and over, “I can't do this. I can't do this. You have to go back.”
I loved her. I was happy she was in the real world instead of the wonderland that was my woman parts. But I felt scared. Terrified. I couldn't do it. I couldn't even have told you at the time what “it” was, but I knew I was incapable.
Here's the thing: I had never raised a baby before. I didn't know what I was doing or should've been doing. There is no manual. It's like if you rode around in a car for 10 months, then you bought a car of your own, and someone said, “Take it home” before you had ever been behind the wheel. No one would ever do that. It would be tragically unsafe.
I felt terrified and certain that I wouldn't be able to do this motherhood thing.
I felt that allowing me to bring this new baby home was equally perilous. There was no book I had to study before I could take her home. There was no practice baby I had to keep alive for a few days before I was given my own. All that happened was my birth control failed me, Luke and I decided to trust that God thought we could raise a kid, and I pushed my baby girl out into my doctor's hands. That was it.
And now I was in charge of raising this new baby? What's wrong with you people?
That's how I felt that first night. I felt scared and alone and lost without a map. I felt terrified and certain that I wouldn't be able to do this motherhood thing. Someone else had to take her. Someone who knew what they were doing. Someone who could do it better.
I survived that first night. And the second. And now Lillian is closing in on two and a half years old. That same fear that I'm incapable and incompetent follows me around all day like a demonic chihuahua nipping at my heels at every misstep. It's been harder than anything else in my life. It's been more difficult and challenging than I could have ever imagined. There are still days where I think, “I can't do this. I can't do this.”
But I never, ever, ever think “You have to go back” like I did that first night.
She is my daughter. My first born. My blue eyed, spunky little girl. She is a joy. And she's mine.
I’m still uncertain and unsteady as I hobble down this road of motherhood. But at the end of the day when I tuck her into her big girl bed, tell her I love her, and she says, “I love you, Mom,” I know that no one else can raise her better than me.