We wait so long for our tiny, alien-like babies to be sentient enough to give some indication that they love us the way we love them. Or, you know, at least that they know we love them. When that moment happens, we can have all kinds of reactions we didn't expect. I, personally, was blown away by the vast range of emotional responses and feelings I felt when my baby reached out for me for the first time.
I know I'm qualified, as a mother of three, to write about parenthood. However, I don't know that any of us parents can ever quantify the lessons we've learned, usually from the things we've felt as parents, until we're like 80 years old. My in-progress observations, like my limited wisdom, don't have the benefit of hindsight. I can't possibly know what these things will end up meaning. I can only be curious about the sensations and experiences as they happen. So, I'm well aware of the possibility that the feelings I describe now will someday hold an entirely different meaning when my baby, who is now reaching out for me for the first time, is grown.
Just like the parenting path in general, when my baby reached for me the first time I had expansive, transformational feelings and contracting, devastating feelings. Yes, it's totally possible for all these things to exist at once.
I Felt The Weight Of My Own Mortality
What is it about new babies, babies living, and babies needing me that makes me face my mortality? Whatever it is, the acute knowledge that my baby needs me reminds me that someday I won't be there for them.
I Felt Like My Heart Was Going To Burst Out Of My Chest
In the race to see who could get to my baby's outstretched arms the fastest, my heart attempted to leap out of my chest and overtake me for the win. Spoiler alert: we tied.
I Felt Like My Baby Has Absolute Power Of Me
When my kid stretched out their arms for "up," I was doomed. Yes, it's as dramatic as it sounds. For good or evil, I thought, this kid has absolute power over me.
I Felt Like I Was In Absolute Awe
Like, seriously. I made you from nothing. I made you in my body. You're a whole human being, the cutest one ever in the history of the world if I'm honest, and I made you in my body.
When my baby reached for me that first time, this basic fact was just, well, unbelievable.
I Felt Overwhelming Gratitude
That feeling of my heart leaping out of my chest was just the tip of the iceberg. Tears filled my eyes when my baby reached for me. I was overcome by the immense gratitude of having my real live rainbow baby actually here in front of me. No longer a dream or a hope or an unfulfilled promise, but here and in the world and reaching for me.
I Felt The Heaviness Of Immense Responsibility
Those little fingers atop tiny, chubby arms reached for me and the enormity of what it means to be responsible for shaping them into a good person hit me like a freight train. Boom.
I Felt Intense Fear
What if I can't be everything my baby needs? What if I can't take care of my baby adequately? What if something happens to me? What if something horrible happens to my baby? What if I let my baby down in some way? What if I break my baby's heart one day? What if my baby needs something I can't give? What if, what if, what if, what if.
I Felt Complete Happiness
This is the voice my partner plugs his ears for. No, he's not a jerk, he just has sensory integration challenges that make my high-pitched-uterus squeals (yes, that's actually what I call them) hard for his ears to handle.
I Felt Like Reaching Back
Putting words to mothering feelings feels futile sometimes. All I can say is that my whole body, all the atoms, reached towards my baby, too. It's as if everything that I was wanted to swim in those big, sparkly blue eyes.
I Felt The Need To Smell My Baby's Head
C'mon! Don't look at me like that! You know you've had the thought, too! You're about to pick your baby up and you just can't wait to drink in that sweet, sweet divine smell of baby head.
I Felt Inadequate
You know that feeling when you know, you just know, that someone is too good for you? Too good for this world, even? They are so good, in fact, that you're not sure how you'll ever do right by them.
Yeah. That's how I felt.
I Felt Incredible Peace
I waited for my rainbow baby for long. Finally, that baby arrived and my family was complete. What does that feel like? For starts, warmth and peace. This incredible, still, overwhelming peace, as if everything is right in the world.
I Felt Determined
Once I gave into that immediate reaching, yearning pull toward my baby, I closed my eyes, nuzzled into that sweet baby smell, and slightly shook my head. Then I made the silent promise: "I'm never letting you go. I'm never, ever, ever letting you go."
I Felt Love
As a mom, there are some children's books that hold special meaning and therefore constantly get stuck in my head. They sometimes end up popping up in my brain as descriptors of emotions, unconsciously shaping my present moment experience. This song began running through my head when my baby dive-bombed toward me in the bumbo chair.
You all know the one: I'll love you forever...
I Felt The Need To Pee
All of these existential things happened the first time my third baby reached out to me. However, as always and especially as a parent, existential experience and mundane reality live side by side. I guess intense emotions activate my bladder, because almost immediately upon picking my sweet baby up, I had to pee.
Good thing I'm highly trained at peeing while holding a tiny child. #MomGoals