Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Body Language (11/25/10)
TITLE: A New Mother's Letter to Her Child
By Jamie Jones
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Eight weeks ago, I was that pregnant lady listening to complete strangers tell her how to raise her child. Sometimes I listened with ears wide open, as some days I was desperate for guidance. Other days, it was a struggle to maintain a friendly expression and not roll my eyes the way I did as a teen. Still I kept trudging through with my extra forty pounds, smiled and said “thank you” as any polite woman will do.
One word of “advice” I received back then was “Don’t miss her hunger cues”. Even the books devoted to educating clueless pregnant women about babies said this. From what I read, this is what I know; I should look for signals in your body language to tell me when you’re hungry. Crying is the final cue which means I’ve missed all of the other cues completely. Well sweet Sarah…I’ve looked, and looked, and looked…I’ve watched, and watched, and watched…and I’ve got nothing. I have no idea how to read your tiny body’s language. Every time I feed you, you’ve already made me aware of your hunger through your cries. I look at those eyes as you gulp down the formula and silently wonder to myself. Am I doing something wrong? What is it I’m missing here? I cry a silent tear and attempt to pull myself together again.
I never knew that motherhood could be so emotionally overwhelming, but it is the little things such as misinterpreting your body language that can get me bawling in a moment’s notice. My desire to care for you perfectly has existed ever since the second pink line appeared on the stick, but everything I have done since your birth has been the opposite of perfection. I wanted a natural childbirth, but you were born in an operating room via cesarean section. I wanted to breastfeed, failed, and now have to feed you man-made formula that everyone, even the companies that make it, admits isn’t “best”. Your life so far has been full of opposites.
Today, however, as I watch you lying on the floor for your daily dose of “tummy time”, I am deciding to make a change. I will no longer be so hard on myself. I will not lie awake at night agonizing over feeding you formula. I will not get mad at myself every time that I yet again miss your hunger cues, and find myself rushing around to mix your bottle before your screams grow loud enough to awaken the neighbors. I will not over analyze everything I ever do, because as I watch you now, I’ve realized one imperfect thing.
I wanted to be a perfect mommy. I’m not. I wanted to always get it right. I won’t. You will be a formula fed baby. I don’t understand your body language. However, there is one thing I can give you that can never be a new mommy’s “oops.” The one thing I can give you every day of my life…more important than breast milk, more important than following any of the advice I received…is my love. My love is not perfect, but it is true, it is yours, and it will always be here. I love you…more than I dreamed, more than I imagined I could, more than any silly idea of being perfect. My imperfect love is what you get. I hope you’ll love me to.
When you’re grown and carrying a child of your own, I will try my best not to offer unsolicited advice. Though, if I say anything, it will be this: Love is the only thing you need to take care of your baby. Everything else will be just fine.
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