I was totally unprepared for parenthood. I was soon to be 28 when my daughter was born and I was totally unprepared for the feelings of inadequacy.
I remember being 6 months pregnant and realizing that the only way out of this was through pain and suffering of labor. It was like climbing up the high diving board over the pool and then realizing that I couldn’t go back down the ladder. I was going to have to jump into the water.
Prior to the delivery, I practiced my breathing and pushing skills for the birth to no avail. The cord had come down before my daughter and I had to have an emergency cesarean section. And in those days, you stayed 4 days in the hospital with a c-section. I remember the first night that my baby spent the night in my room. She woke up crying because she had a poopy diaper and I joined her in sobbing because I didn’t know how to clean her up. I might add that I had a very traditional marriage. My husband at that time did not spend the night at the hospital nor did he feel devoted enough to stay home from attending a football game or going to work in the mornings. So I was on my own as far as this baby by numbers was concerned.
My mother had decided that rather than spending the night getting up with the baby to help me – she would hire a nanny for our first week home from the hospital. The nanny taught me how to bathe my baby and the best techniques for breast feeding but she still did most of the work.
And after a week of nanny time, I sobbed all the way to the bus stop to take the nanny home.
I was not mature enough to be a mother.
Today I know that I was as prepared as I could be without actually having a baby. I can give myself credit for preparing myself as best I could by reading the books and talking to my friends who had babies.
And now my baby has two babies of her own.
It was not the truth that I was unprepared. It was a feeling of aloneness with this helpless being. It was a vulnerability of which I had never before been aware. And now being 60, I am so incredibly grateful for 38 more years in which to see that being prepared is an illusion when it is something new. We are never prepared totally for something that we have never done before. And thank goodness for that! Where would be the learning
Where would be the excitement and the payoff ?
That would be the real mistake, that would be the loss.