I’d like to start off by assuring you that my baby is alive and well. She’s a healthy, happy, and mischievous bundle of joy at 14 months old. Why the disclaimer? Because I was a slow starter! Those so-called maternal instincts didn’t appear, poof, by magic as soon as I had Valentina in my arms. Truth be told, I was scared of the newborn!
Before my maternal instincts started kicking in, there were feelings of frustration, exhaustion and terror. “I’m responsible for a new human being, can I do this? What have I gotten myself into? What if I screw up?” Questions that plagued me during those first few months, and that still creep in, as I’m sure they’ll keep doing for as long as I live.
After making peace with the fact that my kid didn’t come with a Return Policy, and that no matter how long you postpone having a baby, you’ll never be ready, it was time to take the bull by the horns and become Super Mom. Except, there’s no such thing. That would imply that you’ll never be tired, cranky, irritable, depressed, that you need help from no one, and that your baby won’t eat a piece of paper towel (true story, please don’t judge me…). We’re moms, but we’re human.
At first, I relied on my husband for everything. He’d been through the whole first-time parent thing. He has kids from his previous marriage, so he coached me on how to hold her, feed her, burp her, and bathe her. I felt like a complete moron. “How is it possible that I second guess myself on the smallest things?” was a question that circled around in my mind. “This diaper looks wrong. Oh, it’s backwards”. Making matters worse was when my baby-daddy could stop the crying, our daughter’s not mine, when I couldn’t. Am I not the momma?!
But, as it tends to happen, you live and learn. Every new experience prepared me for the next, and I’m learning to be a mom, poop by poop, day by day.
Don’t buy into the whole you-are-the-momma-you-will-just-know-what-to-do bit. You probably won’t. And that’s okay. There’s no manual, ladies. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and/or help.
Maternal instincts aren’t a given, you develop them during that wonderful journey called motherhood. Isn’t that greeeat?!