Here’s how new motherhood breaks down: you yield a small human from your body. This creature is completely dependent on you for comfort, nourishment, and the prevention of diaper rash. The wee thing gives you nothing in return, other than fierce crying fits and dirty diapers. You continue this way for weeks, and just when you think you can’t live another day caring for a person who doesn’t even make eye contact, that baby’s mouth cracks into a gigantic grin. If you don’t feel fireworks that first time your baby smiles, it's time to check your pulse.
I mean, that's what it was all for, right? That damn, magnificent, amazing, beautiful, other-worldly smile. All those exhausting weeks of adjusting to this new little roommate who was only wreaking havoc on your sleep schedules, your laundry volume, and your looks were leading up to this moment. When my firstborn gave me that first smile, I immediately forgot how any of these new motherhood responsibilities could possibly be eating away at my sanity. Her smile was the love I needed returned to me, finally. If I had been having second thoughts about my ability to be this little girl’s mom, they vanished the very second I saw her precious smile.
So other than relief, and a renewed sense of purpose as a mother, here are some other things I felt when my baby smiled for the first time: