I never truly knew the meaning of love until I was 30 years old. Oh, I loved my family and my friends. And I was in love with my husband. But it wasn’t until I became solely responsible for the life of another human being that I completely and utterly understood what love is about.
It didn’t happen right away – not one of those ‘gaze into my newborn’s eyes and immediately fall in love’ kind of things. No, this bond grew slowly over several weeks, and even months. Struggles with breastfeeding on top of the usual first-time mom learning curve added stress to the beginning of our relationship. After the first week, when Ron headed back to work, I panicked at being left alone with this tiny person whom I just didn’t ‘get’. We spent our mornings dozing together in the recliner, watching Kelly Ripa’s first days co-hosting with Regis, while she was pregnant with her second child. I felt a bond with Kelly, but not so much with my baby. During the afternoons, I took Abby for walks or ventured out shopping. Then we sat at home while I hoped she would nap and we waited for Ron to get home.
Something incredible happened over those first awkward few months, however. Abby got the hang of breastfeeding, I got into better shape from all of the walks, and somewhere along the line, I fell completely head-over-heels in love with my baby. Snuggling with her, holding her close, watching her learn to smile and laugh and discover the world around her – I couldn’t imagine living my life without her in it. By the time I reached the end of my maternity leave, I hated the thought of being away from her for a single second.
When Abby was 11 months old, I got pregnant again. This was planned – although we didn’t expect it to happen quite so suddenly once we started trying. I worried about how Abby would do with a baby sister, about how the baby would fit into our little family, and about whether or not I could or would feel the same kind of love for the new baby as I did for Abby.
The morning that I went into the hospital to be induced with Hannah, I held Abby on my lap. I assured her that even though Mommy would come home from the hospital with a new baby, that she would always be my ‘baby’ and that I would love her forever.
I needn’t have worried. As I soon discovered, there is plenty of love in a mother’s heart to go around. And after Becca came along a few years after Hannah, my heart swelled even more.
I love my family. And my friends. And I am still in love with my husband. But there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my children. They are a part of me in a way that I can’t fully describe or explain. But then again, I don’t have to – every other mother (or father) out there knows exactly what I mean.