Monse is co-hosting Ease Into Motherhood, a blogging event (blevent?) for sewing bloggers to share their experiences with motherhood. She was so inspired by the whole thing that she asked me to contribute my experience. So, here is my story of motherhood or, as some call it, fatherhood.
As Monse described, the first few weeks were kind of hard. Her C-section scar opened, requiring the daily attentions of a nurse (mercifully, the nurses from the local CLSC agreed to come to our home), taking precious time out of a scheduled already blocked out with ‘take care of baby.’
I felt like I had the easiest time of anyone: Monse, drained by pregnancy, birth, childcare, learning to breastfeed, and on top of everything anxiety over her health; Emilia, grappling with the whole new ‘breathing atmosphere’ thing; and Nina, Monse’s aunt, worried about Monse and stuck in a place where she struggled to understand and be understood. As such I felt like the backstop in a ‘hierarchy of neediness’: Monse’s whole job was to take care of Emilia, Nina’s whole job was to take care of Monse and Emilia, and my whole job was to take care of everyone else. In retrospect, and at the time for that matter, it wasn’t especially fun.
Luckily things picked up pretty quickly. (In retrospect. At the time, it didn’t feel so quick.) Monse’s wound healed. We found our feet with the business of babycare. The intensity of Emilia’s needs gradually abated.
The first turning point for me was going back to work, after a month of paid paternity leave (a perk of living in the socialist paradise of Québec). I was steeling myself for things to get much harder: on top of sleepless nights, baby duties, and putting out emotional fires at home, I’d have to work as well? Surprisingly, it turned out to be… easier. Sure, debugging code was occasionally a struggle for my sleep-deprived brain, but returning to the office brought back a balance to my life that had been missing. I kept quiet about the change, and felt renewed empathy for Monse who was still on the ‘front line’ 24/7.
We were fortunate that Emi quickly became (and remains) an excellent sleeper. Getting a good night’s sleep made a world of difference to our states of mind.
The other turning point, and one we haven’t looked back from, was Emilia’s first real smile. Since then I’ve been fascinated with this tiny person who’s becoming a person right in front of our eyes. She’s 14 months now, and only keeps getting more fun to be with. Maybe the party won’t last forever – she has a taste for testing boundaries already, and the ‘terrible twos’ are up ahead – but I feel like we’ve already been repaid for the testing first couple of months many times over. We have an incredible family.