Thoughts From A Two-Week-Old Mother
My first visit to New York was in the fall of 2004, a month before the presidential election. I came to visit my then-boyfriend who was here for a few weeks doing a rotation for med school. Exactly three years later—almost to the day—I moved here—this time, to live with Drew, the man I’d been cross-country dating for the last year and a half. We moved to Brooklyn in June of last year and by fall, I felt at home, finally, nestled on our little tree-lined block, ten minutes from Prospect Park. I spent many a late summer and fall afternoon riding my bike along the park loop, just as I had in Central Park before that and the lake front in Chicago before that.
I do my best thinking on a bike, and last fall the topic I pondered the most was motherhood and when I wanted to have a baby (Drew had already made it clear he was ready whenever I was, and the sooner the better). You can’t live in Brooklyn and not think about parenthood. I once heard someone describe this borough as having an aggressive presence of babies and that’s exactly right. To put it in perspective, I started a new moms’ group in my neighborhood a few weeks ago, anticipating an isolating winter ahead if I didn’t make friends with other women having babies, and in less than a week I’d connected with 15 other new mothers (or mothers-to-be) within five blocks of me. In fact, in the last two weeks, five of us have given birth (all to boys!). That’s a lot, right? I mean, for a relatively small urban neighborhood?
Anyway, my point is: you can’t escape babies in Brooklyn—at least, not in my part of Brooklyn, and so, on my bike rides last fall as I passed countless women carrying their infants in Ergos and Byorns and Moby wraps, I thought a lot about when I’d want to have my own little mini me (or mini Drew). I went back and forth and back and forth, afraid—petrified, really—of making a definitive decision. What if it turned out I couldn’t get pregnant? What if I could? What if it took a really long time? What if it happened right away? Every scenario seemed really fucking scary, and as much as I wanted to put off the decision-making indefinitely—and all the decisions that would inevitably stem from this one—I was 34 and knew the clock was ticking.
And, so I decided: I’d have a baby in June of 2012. That meant I could have one more round of seasons as a non-pregnant person. I could ride my bike through the following summer and drink as much as I wanted and then get knocked up in September, right after my 35th birthday. I’d have my baby just in time for warm weather and Drew and I could maybe even take the baby to the ocean after it was born and tell him about the world on the other side. It’d be great.
But then last December I was laid off from my full-time job and had to do some quick thinking. My priorities suddenly shifted. I woke up on New Year’s Day, after spending a holiday season with Drew, just the two of us, and I decided I didn’t want to wait any longer. 2011 was the year I was going to create a new life. A new life for me… and well, a new life. A new person. Three weeks later I was pregnant.
I spent a lot of the last nine months since then thinking about what this time in my life would be like. Would I fall in love with my baby right away? Would I suffer from postpartum depression? How would a baby change my relationship with Drew? How would it affect my friendships? Would I be able to care for a newborn and still maintain this website? Would I go bonkers staying home with a baby all day, every day? And while I still don’t have answers to most of these questions—except the first one; that’s a “yes.” And, well, let’s be honest; the last one is kind of a “yes” too!—I know I made the right choice moving forward.
I don’t know that I became, like, this new person the second Jackson was born. I still don’t quite identify with the word “mother,” and there’s a part of me every day that longs for my old life. But I’ve said this before: always, at every point in my life there’s a part of me that longs for who I used to be. That was true when I was 28 and true when I was 20 and it’s true now. But, exhausted as I am—as bone tired and scared and a little confused—I’ve never been so present in my “now,” or excited about my future—about the life that lies ahead. I can’t wait to watch this little guy grow up into his own person, with his own thoughts and ideas. I can’t wait for my family to get to know him, and to teach him things and to show him the world. And most of all, I can’t wait for all he’s going to teach me. If there’s one thing I’ve figured out pretty quickly it’s this: I still have so much to learn. And he’s just the teacher I’ve been needing.
This post was originally published on Dear Wendy by Wendy Atterberry.
Wendy, so nice to see you over here! It’s nice to know that not every woman goes into motherhood with all the answers.
Thanks for posting this here, Wendy. I’m not a parent, I’m not anywhere near parenthood (I think… I hope), but I still found this post incredibly touching.