New years always hold new beginnings. I normally ring a new year in a cocktail dress that makes me feel like a million bucks. I dance into the wee hours of the morning and down my fair share of bubbly champagne. I have always believed that you should start the New Year on a high note and a good time. This year was different. I rang in the New Year 37 weeks pregnant. I went to bed at 10 pm. My cocktail dress had been replaced by leggings. But when I woke up in the morning, it was 2016. And I are breakfast with a man who made my heart race just as fast in his plaid pajama pant bottoms and old t-shirt as he does when he wears an ironed button down and his best dress pants.
Three weeks later, I welcomed my first child, a boy named Ezra, into the world. When I held him in my arms for the first time after 40 hours of labor, I was weary. But after all the hours of hard work, I was so overcome with joy that the exhaustion I felt just melted away. Despite being so tired, I couldn’t even sleep when they wheeled us into the recovery suite. Instead, I snuggled my swaddled bundle. I stared at his fingers and kissed his nose. He was mine. What an amazing thought. I had made it. I was welcomed into the world of motherhood.
The first few months with Ezra were blissful. He was a great baby and people often remarked how spoiled I was. And I knew it was true. But when month three hit, Ezra began spells of crying that could not be soothed. Hours turned into days and into weeks. Four weeks to be exact. Four lonely and miserable weeks where I cried and screamed and rocked and worried that maybe I was not cut out for this whole motherhood thing. Then one day, it seemed easier. He was soothed.
When Ezra turned four months old, I graduated with my PhD and the five years I had spent working for the university as a teacher and a researcher had come to an end. After graduation, I was at home for the first time. I won’t say I didn’t work because any stay-at-home mother will tell you being a SAHM is one of the hardest jobs ever. But it is an odd feeling to not get dressed in the morning, clock in, and be surrounded by other adults. The day after graduation, I woke up to my son and a whole new life. It is a life that allows me to focus on being a strong mother and wife. It is a life that I am so grateful for because I know that there are other mothers who would love that life and can’t have it.
Here we are at the end of summer and Ezra will be seven months old. He sleeps through the night. We have a solid daytime routine. I wake up, have my coffee, and then motherhood takes over. We read and sing and roll around until nap time. I take care of the house. I write. I exercise. There are constant smiles and I am genuinely happy. I feel like I’m finally fitting in my life. I no longer have those thoughts where I doubt myself and wonder whether or not motherhood (or at least stay-at-home-motherhood was a good idea). Then, this morning, life threw a new challenge at me. One word flashed before me and changed everything:
Only this time, I’m not as scared. Only this time, I’m not as anxious. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know this pregnancy will be tougher with a baby on the move. This newborn phase will be tougher with a toddler tugging at my jeans. But, in the toughness, there is wonderful reassurance. This time, I know that crying doesn’t mean I have failed. This time, I know that I was cut out for this motherhood gig. This time, I have a beginning I’m prepared for.
T.S. Reiger is a former teacher with a PhD who is now a SAHM to a beautiful boy and a 90-pound German Shepherd. Nestled among the cornfields of the midwest, she can be found enjoying craft beer, listening to vinyl, planning trips to escape the corn, and writing daily.
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