Lessons from my baby daughter #4.
When Hubs and I brought Miss L home from the hospital at three days old I wasn’t sure we were qualified to be full time carers. All of a sudden, away from the safety of the maternity ward and special care unit, the task of keeping her alive seemed all too big for just the two of us. She was dependent on us for everything. Absolutely everything. And for the little girl who didn’t make any noise for the first two days of her life, now she didn’t hesitate to scream if we got things wrong!
I have always prided myself on my independence. I left home at 18, I can change a car tyre, I’ve supported myself through most of my university degrees, I’m a flat pack furniture queen, a good housekeeper and a hard worker. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and there is not much I can’t handle if I put my mind to it. Much to Hubs’ amusement, I will bash at the lid of a jar for a good couple of minutes before begrudgingly handing it over for him to open.
In the last six months I have never felt less independent in my life. Humiliatingly so. I have had to ask surgical nurses for a bedpan while I lay on the operating table waiting for them to fix my heart. I have had to ask cardiac nurses to operate a breast pump when I couldn’t bend my arms for all the cannulas. I have had to ask Hubs to help me get dressed in the morning and undressed at night. I have had to ask my mother to wash my hair while I sat on a chair in the shower to keep from passing out. I have asked the lovely ladies at church to sit at home with me while Hubs got groceries each week, all because I couldn’t be left alone with my own daughter. I have asked my best friend to pack up my whole house when I couldn’t lift more than a dinner plate. I have asked for babysitters, for rides, for meals, for prayers, for helping hands, for shoulders to cry on, for a roof over our heads and for food in our bellies. Humility is a bitter pill to swallow.
I love caring for Miss L. I love every part of it; the midnight feeds, the sleepless nights, the early morning wake up calls, the endless rocking, the scratches all over my face and arms from tiny sharp nails, the spew and the poo and the poo and the poo. To my daughter, every feed and every lullaby and every pat on the back and every dirty nappy changed says ‘I love you’. And in return, she gives me smiles and slobber kisses and squeezes around my neck, and one of these days she will say ‘I love you’ right back.
I won’t pretend that I enjoyed being so utterly dependent on those around me. It has been the hardest six months of my life. No contest. But perhaps I needed to learn that my asking for help gave the ones who love me the most an opportunity to show it in ways I never would have accepted before.
And so, as I grow ever stronger, I am not too proud to say it back. I love you all and am forever grateful.