The photos in this post were taken by the talented Danielle Perelman when Rudy was 10 days old.
Happy New Year! I know I'm a week late but we've been a bit out of sorts these past few weeks as we adjusted to new parenthood. I'll share many of the details of Rudy's arrival (as well as some more pregnancy-related posts) but it has taken me a while to decide how and what to share because pregnancy was not particularly kind to me and I'm honestly still a bit traumatized.
By the final month of my pregnancy, I was so uncomfortably huge and quite frankly, miserable, that all the beaming, belly-rubbing, advice-wielding strangers who had plagued me for months actually stopped approaching me. I actually found that I missed them. I wasn't sure whether their silence was due to the miserable resting b@#ch face I'd developed in my discomfort or perhaps it was the fact that I was so insanely ginormous that they were convinced that I was having quintuplets and that if they startled me or disturbed me in any way, babies would start shooting out of me and I would force the party who startled me to raise one or two until they were eighteen. But I digress.
How was your New Year's Eve? I've always found NYE to be a strange night. There are always so many expectations and there's so much pressure to do something special or memorable that the evening often ends up feeling anticlimactic. I always look back on the year during the countdown and the whole tradition seems so nostalgic and sentimental and perhaps even a little bit sad to close the book on another year. Other people seem to disagree and find it exciting. Which team are you on?
Just three weeks post-surgery and recovering from the flu, Corey and I had already reluctantly cancelled plans with friends and were planning on spending the evening at home. My mother had been staying with us since we brought Rudy home from the hospital (as her mother had done for her when I was born) and it was finally time for her to go home. She hugged us and reminded us she was only half an hour away, but I still found myself sobbing and not wanting to see her leave.
My reaction shocked me. I have always been confident (sometimes to a fault) and even as a child, I don't think I looked back or felt homesick when it was time to start a new school or summer camp. In fact, I have always been fiercely independent and I've even been known to be stubborn in the face of unwanted help or advice... and yet, here I was, a grown woman, bawling my eyes out and clinging to my mom, not wanting her to leave. I knew in my head that Corey and I would be fine on our own and that we had tons of support from family and friends. I was already pretty convinced that Corey would be the best dad ever... And yet, I couldn't help but worry that I might not be up to the challenge.
In my struggle to get through the last months of my challenging pregnancy, I neglected to consider the very important detail that Corey and I actually didn't know anything about babies. Why had Corey and I scoffed at taking parenting classes? What if Rudy got a fever? How could I be sure she wouldn't stop breathing in her crib? What if the dogs mistook her for a toy? What if we were so tired, we slept through her crying? What would we do if she wouldn't stop wailing and we literally went insane?
Thinking about her getting older was scarier still. How would I know if I was being too soft or too harsh? What if I was so strict when she was older that I really screwed her up. What if she turned out to be stubborn like me and she hated me throughout her teens? The world is so scary that I wondered how I'd ever let her take risks. How would I learn to be brave enough? ... Or patient enough? What if I wasn't a good enough mom? Would we be the parents she deserved? My mom was constantly talking and singing to Rudy but it felt so unnatural to me. What would I say to Rudy when we were alone? Would I just read my paperwork aloud to her? I didn't know how to speak to a baby. I felt like a fraud! All these thoughts and more spun through my head as I sobbed on the living room sofa, but mostly I was just worried that I would never be as good at mom-ing as my own mom.
In a tear-filled hormonal daydream, the next thirty years flashed before me and I was simultaneously homesick for my own mother in the present moment and sad for the day in the future when I may have to leave Rudy crying with a newborn baby in her arms. Because one day, she would need to grow up and figure things out just as we had to do now.
My mom assured me that Corey and I were already very competent and knowledgeable and that she was frightened too when her mom left. She reminded us that we are a great team and that if we need her, she's only a phone call away. Then she went home.
And so, we spent our first NYE as a family of three (...or five, if you count dogs... which we do!) at home on the couch watching movies with Rudy in her swing and the dogs at our feet. It was simple and comfortable and not nearly as scary or lonely as I had feared. Like the famous scene from Bambi, (because that's how I felt) we rung in the new year, as a wobbly, naive new family learning to walk on our own.