Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flying solo

I lacked confidence as a mother. I guess I shouldn't use the past tense there. I lack confidence as a mother, but have more now than I did a month ago.

It didn't seem like something that would be that hard. While I was nervous about impending motherhood while I was pregnant, deep down, I knew I could do it. I had confidence that I would figure it out.

Then came that day in the pediatrician's office when Bird was only 10 days old. The day that doctor looked at me over the top of his glasses and said in a shame inducing voice, "Your baby is crying because he is hungry. You are giving him enough to eat."

That was all it took for the wall of confidence I had to come crashing down around me.

Of course we know now that Bird was probably hungry, but more than that - much more than that - he had painful gas. He was crying because he hurt. His tummy hurt. Stupid doctor.

After that day, I dreaded being along with Bird. I just knew that I was missing all sorts of cues and misinterpreting the ones I did hear. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to console him. I was nervous about being able to put him down for a nap. Everyday tasks became huge events that I had to build up to starting in the early morning.

Then, Guy left for Korea. For a week. I was flying solo.

I cried every night the week before he left. I had nightmares about involuntarily pushing Bird off the bed. I had nightmares about dropping him. I had nightmares about having to take him to the ER for a sky high fever. I worked myself into a general frenzy.

No matter what state I was in, Guy still had to go to Korea. There was no getting around it. So a week ago Monday, he left. Bird and I dropped him off at the airport and drove home to our house full of dogs to figure what on earth we were to do next.

Something quite amazing happened. We found our rhythm.

I've been waiting since the day we brought him home to feel like we had found our rhythm. People kept telling me it would come. I'm so glad they were right.

All the things that Guy had been doing to keep the household running fell to me. Taking the trash out. Feeding the dogs. Holding and playing with Bird while I cooked dinner and did the dishes. All these things, which seem like little things, seemed like a giant void to me.

But we did it, Bird and I.

Bird can sit up in his slings now and face forward. That helped tremendously. Turns out, he loves riding around and doing chores. He likes feeding the dogs and the bird's eye view he gets of them dancing and drooling right before we put their bowls down. He likes watching me chop different colored vegetables. He likes being outside and the sound of the trashcan rolling on the driveway behind us.

We missed Guy most at bathtime. I love the hour or so we take in a bedtime ritual for Bird. Getting him clean and dressed for bed and then playing for awhile before he goes to sleep is the most perfect end to any day. But we even managed this on our own and I found myself enjoying the quiet alone with Bird to close out the evening.

It turns out, Guy's week in Korea was a gift. It forced me to step up and stop worrying so much. It allowed me to start to be myself again instead of being just a scared new mom. And I like that. I like that I'm starting to feel like my old self, just with the added bonus of being Bird's mom. I've missed me.

The best part of the week was still when we watched Guy pass through the gate and head towards us in the airport. I might have found a reason to be grateful for my time alone with Bird, but that doesn't mean I wasn't glad to see it end and have Guy back where he belongs.