We had a rough night last night. Henry had his 6-month vaccines yesterday morning, and those four shots were a lot for his little body to handle. As soon as he got tired, he cried like I have never seen him cry. He was nearly inconsolable for hours until he finally fell asleep on my chest. As I crept up the stairs as quietly as I could, I wondered how I would ever get him laid down and settled in his crib without jostling or waking him. I caught myself asking Can I do this? And then I realized I can, and I will. I’ve been doing it all along.
To past Corley, from future Corley:
From the day you first see that positive pregnancy test, and every day on after that, you will wonder if you can do this.
You will wonder it often, and in a hundred different ways.
When you feel the first twinge of your first contraction, it will be a tightening in your belly that steals your breath and stops you in your tracks, just for a moment, before it passes and you wonder if that was it. And later, when your contractions graduate from that uncomfortable tightness to an unbearable pressure from inside your bones, pushing your body to expand from your spine to your ribs to your hips until you feel like you might just break in two, you will think I can’t do this. And then you will do it anyway.
When you hold your newborn baby to your chest, both of you crying and blinking at each other, completely unsure of what do do next, the other people in the room will congratulate you and say “You did it!” In the hustle and bustle of that room, you will look at your baby and think about how this little person is your little person, to feed and protect and care for, and you will wonder.
When the nurse leaves you alone in your cramped room for the first time, your legs still numb from your epidural, a brand new baby in the bassinet beside you, crying and squirming and looking to you for comfort, you will catch your husband’s eye and both of you will be thinking that you don’t know what to do now. You won’t sleep that night, or the next night – but you’ll get there.
When you are rolled through the hospital in a wheelchair, baby in your arms and husband pushing your bags on a cart behind you, you will wonder. He will go get the car, and together you will strap your new little person into the car seat, tighten the straps more than you thought you would need to. You will both marvel at how small this baby seems compared to the great big world around him. Everything will seem too big for your baby: the seat, the clothes, the hat, the car, the drive home. Your husband will make eye contact with you in the rearview mirror, anxious to get your family home safely. He is wondering, too.
You will get home. The days will turn into weeks and months. You will figure it out, wondering as you go along – bath time and diaper rash and sleep regressions and teething. One day, you will find yourself camped out on the couch, your baby sleeping in your arms because he won’t sleep anywhere else. You will balance your computer on your knees, arms stretched under him, typing with the tips of your fingers and praying you don’t wake him before he’s ready. And you will realize that at some point, you shifted from wondering to believing.
You can do it. You’re doing it already. And you’re doing just fine.