My son, Thomas, was born in November of 2016. It was a beautiful, whirlwind of a day. I was 3 days past my due date and definitely feeling it. I went to my doctor for a routine checkup and was informed within a few minutes of being there that I was going to have a baby that day. My husband and I shuffled off to the connecting hospital, I was induced, and 7 hours later, I was holding my boy in my arms.
It was life changing, to be sure. I will always remember the doctor placing him on my chest for the first time. But to be honest? I did not feel like a mom yet.
Don’t get me wrong. I was in love with that little boy the moment I saw him. Before that, even. I just did not feel like his mom. I felt more like a babysitter, or maybe a temporary guardian. It almost scared me, to feel that disconnect between us; for several weeks, I walked around feeling as if someone would come take him from me to hand him off to his real mom.
And then one day, that changed. Specifically, on December 27, 2016.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. It stands out to me more than any other day or moment in the first months of my son’s life. We were returning from a two day trip to Austin to visit my husband’s family. The drive from Austin to Houston is certainly not long, but with an 8 week old who needs to nurse frequently, it felt like it took an entire day to get home. I’d been pooped on, barfed on, and screamed at. My skin was crawling with the almost constant contact my child required. I was tired from the hours of travel and visiting family, plus just straight up exhausted from 8 weeks of little to no sleep.
When we got home, I had a deep, visceral craving for a bath. A long soak in hot water, a few candles, a glass of wine, and a book. I settled Thomas into his little bouncer by the tub, and my husband went off to do a workout, with the promise of taking the baby when he was finished. I drew the bath, added some lavender bath salts, and poured myself some wine. The first few minutes of quiet and warmth felt like complete heaven. And then…Thomas started to cry.
I’m ashamed to say in that moment that I sort of hated my child. Didn’t he understand that all I wanted was a few minutes to myself? A few minutes where I wasn’t nursing or comforting or feeding or cleaning a tiny human. I tried rocking him in his bouncer; I sang to him. I even pleaded with him, tears of frustration welling up in my eyes. But, as babies are wont to do, he kept screaming, his little face turning red, demanding my attention.
In my desperation for some quiet, I undressed him, scooped him up in my arms, and brought him in the tub with me. Immediately, he calmed and settled on my chest, snuggling into my shoulder. I rubbed my hand up and down his little back, soothing and quieting. And to my surprise, instead of feeling prickly with having him against my skin yet again, I felt…like a mom.
I looked down at my son, now resting quietly on my body. He looked back up at me, big blue eyes solemn and quiet. And for the first time, I did not feel any sense of disconnect. His head lay close to my heart, as if he was drawn to the feeling of my pulse to comfort him. In return, my heart almost ached from the sudden, overwhelming feeling of knowing this little boy was mine.
My book lay abandoned on the floor, my wine untouched on the window sill. We sat there peacefully for minutes, or maybe hours, just soaking up that sweet, sweet moment. Tears streamed down my face, this time from a sure and confident joy. Joy in my sweet boy. Joy in my unique ability to soothe him. Joy in being his mama.
My husband came into the bathroom soon after, and I remember looking up at him and saying, “I’m a mom.” And I knew I would never, ever forget that moment.