To quote Charlie's Grandpa Zimmy, "Parenthood is a humbling experience."
The other day as I was nursing Charlie, Julia noticed my deflated, empty sac of a belly hanging out of my shirt and said, "Mama, your belly is so big. Why is it still so big?" Then, she bounced up and down on the bed and laughed, "It JIGGLES!"
I'm not laughing so much. But, I must say that my drooping belly is actually a welcome change after those last few weeks of pregnancy, when I felt like I could have used a wheelbarrow to cart my bowling ball belly around in front of me. As soon as Charlie was born, I felt instantaneously lighter. The nurses must have thought I was losing it, because I just kept saying: "I feel so light!" "Umm hmmm," they'd nod, their eyebrows a little cocked. "You just wouldn't believe how light I feel," I'd say again.
I'll never forget the first moment I really realized I wasn't pregnant anymore. It was in the hospital shower the day after Charlie was born when I dropped my razor on the floor. Dread came over me as I tried to figure out how I was going to bend over and pick it up. Then, the dread quickly turned to elation—euphoria—as I realized that I could effortlessly bend over and pick something up off of the floor! I was so excited that I stood up, dangled the razor precipitously over the shower floor and—oops!—dropped it again, just for fun.
Then, there was the time toward the end of my pregnancy when I went to turn on my laptop only to find that Will had unplugged it. I was working from bed on a TV tray so I could keep my feet up for a few hours a day, and the only place to plug in the laptop was in an outlet just behind our bed. This required getting down on the floor and reaching under the bed. So, there I was, lying on my back on the floor, trying to shimmy my huge self under the bed, only to find that the outlet was just beyond my reach. I lay there grunting and groaning, stretching and reaching in vain as my belly was far too big to allow me to squeeze any further under the bed. The absurdity of the situation hit me as I lay there like a turtle stuck on its back and contemplated calling in a forklift to help me get off the floor.
Labor is another humbling experience. Any sense of modesty you may have had quickly goes out the door when you give birth. There you are, your feet practically up around your ears, as a half dozen total strangers mill about the room. I'm too embarrassed to even mention the things my saint of a nurse had to do after the delivery "just to clean you up a bit." Then, there were the lactation consultants who fondled and massaged my breasts in an effort to help get the baby latched on. One had cold hands that were like ice packs on my sore breasts, and it felt so good that for a brief second I considered asking her to stay in the room to massage my breasts for a while—before the porn-scene-ness of it all dawned on me. And, oh, let's not forget the diaper-sized maxi pads and chic mesh underwear the hospital hands out for just such occasions. For purposes of illustration, here's Julia's Elmo doll modeling the fall line of Beverly Hospital's "Beverly's Secret" lingerie.
Yes, parenthood is a humbling experience. You check your ego at the door the minute they hand you that tiny little baby. And, that's when you realize that despite all of your own vanity, shortcomings and imperfections, you have somehow been entrusted with this perfect little life. And that is perhaps the most humbling thing of all.
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