when I realized that I really am a mom

Before Nate was born, someone told us, "A woman becomes a mom from the moment she finds out she's pregnant. A man becomes a dad when the baby is born." They may have meant that the baby is more real to the mom because every minute of her day is affected by the pregnancy. But it seemed at the time like they were saying that women "feel" like moms from the beginning of the pregnancy. I think Rodgers genuinely felt like a dad when he first saw Nate, as predicted. It took me a lot longer to feel like a mom. I'm not talking about minutes, hours, or days after he was born. It was months. Because of that comment and others in a similar vein, I was confused about how I felt, as if all other moms but me immediately felt those maternal bonding emotions. However, I've begun to believe that my experience isn't quite as unusual as it seemed in my postpartum haze.

When I first saw Nate I thought, "That can't be right." He didn't look like Rodgers' and my baby - though I can't really say what I expected our baby to look like. When I first held him I thought, "I'm supposed to unwrap him and look at his fingers and toes and stuff, but I can't be bothered." I loved him, of course, but in my defense, I was in quite a lot of pain just then.

There were brief moments in the first weeks and months when I felt those maternal bonding emotions. Nate first smiled at me, intentionally, when he was 2 weeks old. He loved interacting face to face, and we had some special times.

Between 3 months and 4 months, 2 major changes happened. My body stopped producing milk, graciously ending my preoccupation with failing lactation, and a breakthrough in physical therapy resulted in my first pain-free day since delivery (the pain wasn't gone forever, but I was able to stop taking daily pain meds). I was able to adjust, find a new normal, and see myself as a mom. I began feeling those warm, cuddly, bonding feelings with Nate. One event in particular stands out as a turning point in how I saw myself.
Nate on his changing table

I was changing Nate's diaper. (Fair warning: this is a story about poop. And pee.)

He was always constipated. That day, his poop was a perfect sphere. It rolled right out of the diaper, off the changing table, and I caught it mid-air. I'd rather not clean poop out of the carpet, so catching it in my bare hand was the lesser evil.

At that same moment, he started peeing. Generally, I would use the old diaper to catch the pee fountain, but the rolling poop had taken my attention away, and the hand I would use to cover him with the diaper was busy catching poop in mid-air. (Sidenote: Nate's pediatrician prided himself on never being peed on by his baby boy patients. Nate changed that with his sneak attack. The Dr called him a pee ninja.) Before the pee hit the wall, Nate's own face, or the carpet, I caught it in my other hand, and re-directed it so that it fell harmlessly into the open diaper.

So there I stood, with pee in one hand and poop in the other, but none on my clothes, Nate's clothes, or the floor. Rather proud of my reflexes, I thought to myself, "Yes, I really am a mom."


  1. Your own ninja powers must be quite strong to ward off a pee ninja attack like that!


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