The Light at the End of the Tunnel

When I was pregnant, a wise co-worker and fellow mom told me that during the first few months after the Peanut was born, I would feel like I was in a tunnel—a place where there was only baby on the brain all the time, when I wasn’t really sure who I was anymore because of the dramatic change in my life (and the sleep-deprivation, of course).  I saw her a few months ago and told her I had emerged from the tunnel, but now I don’t think I really did.  I recognize that parenting is never stagnant, things are always changing, but then I still felt like I was floundering at times.

 

Now eight months in, I feel like I have a better hold on things, and I think I am finally seeing the light for real.  I’ve nursed and changed diapers in restaurants, at church, on buses, in subway stations and in a subway car itself.  I know how to pack for trips of various lengths and I’m not afraid to take day trips or even travel across the country.  I can play with Jacob and still get things done both around the apartment and for work.  I am excited to start each day and content when I reflect back each evening.

 

This is not to say that things go perfectly every day—or any day, for that matter.  When I make plans, I know I need to be ready to change them the next instant, depending on naps, nursing, or weather.  I still struggle to keep my priorities straight and tackle the tougher things on my plate instead of surfing the web or vegging out in front of Hulu. I know I can’t do everything at once, but I feel more confident that I can do anything if I try.

 

I write this today for new moms, expectant moms, and for myself for when, God willing, the next Peanut comes along.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

 

When I was pregnant and after I gave birth, I was nearly convinced that all the things that were supposed to happen with new moms would not happen to me.  I had no problem believing these things occurred for almost every other mom on the planet, but I knew I would be the exception.  For example:

 

  • I would not be able to figure out how to change a baby in public, especially when there wasn’t a changing table in the bathroom.

 

  • I would not be able to nurse my baby in public, nor would I be able to discreetly nurse without essentially undressing and redressing myself.

 

  • The above two points proved that I would never be able to go out in the world for more than forty-five minutes at a time, for fear I would not be in the comfort of my home when a feeding, changing, or napping need arose.

 

  • I would never be able to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes again, which meant I had a closet full of clothes I couldn’t wear and would need to rebuild a wardrobe from the ground up—for a body I wasn’t comfortable in.

 

  • I would not be able to decipher my baby’s cries.  (I’ve learned that maternal instinct is not necessarily “instinctive”, per se.  I may not have figured Jacob out right off the bat, but I have come to know him very well, and now I trust my gut when it comes to his needs and wants.  That’s what it should be called:  “maternal gut.”)

 

  • I would not be able to keep the baby happy, the house clean, us well-fed, and continue the work I love as a writer and editor.

 

By the grace of God, every single one of these fears has been quashed.  I know I am not perfect, but I know that I am doing the best job I can.  I know that I was given to Jacob and Jacob to me by some greater plan than my own, and I trust that that is the right thing for both of us.  Despite my doubts, despite my fears, I know that I am exactly where—and who—I am supposed to be.  I only hope I can come to that more quickly the next time around!

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