As we approach Seton’s first birthday, I find myself reflecting on how motherhood has changed me.

The instant Seton was born, I didn’t feel the overwhelming sense of love that I had expected. I felt physical relief that labor was over. The doctor handed her to me and as she lay on my chest, I thought, “I can’t hold her.” I was shaking, slightly terrified at the experience of labor and numb to any emotion that may be deemed maternal.

Davey recognized I {didn’t want} to hold her –I feel so weird writing that — and he willingly scooped her up and walked around the hospital room with her.

I remember watching him thinking, “how is he already this good? How does he already love her?” I had never seen him hold a baby before. It looked as if he had been holding her his whole life. She fit perfectly into his arms. I was jealous of my husband who seemed to be feeling everything I wanted to feel.

The one emotion I remember strongly was the new sense of responsibility. I knew I had to keep her alive. A nurse told me that Seton had some fluid in her lungs because she was coughing it up. It was really not a big deal, but I became paranoid about watching to make sure she was breathing. So I didn’t take my eyes off of her that first day. Looking back, I guess I was thinking that the least I could do (if I couldn’t love her) was make sure she kept breathing.

Exhaustion has a weird power over a human, and the more I watched Seton’s small chest rise and fall as she lay in her bassinet, the more I felt pulled toward sleep. She was born at 3:21am and as the next night approached I felt I couldn’t even watch her to make sure she stay alive.

I asked them to keep her in the nursery that night.

I felt so ashamed.

I am a rational and loving person, I kept telling myself. I will grow to love her.

And I did.

After the first week at home, I told Davey, “I can’t believe it, but I love her.”

He thought it sounded funny because he giggled and said, “of course you do.”

And now, almost a year later, I am completely shocked by how much I love her. I’m even more shocked that the love does not stop growing.

My life used to be my life. Every decision I made was based on what would make me the happiest.

What job makes me happy? Which friends make me happy? Which TV show make me happy? What book should I read to make me happy?

Now, each and every decision I make, I make for Seton. If I seek happiness for myself, it’s because I want to radiate joy to her.

In many ways, I have matured. I imagine other people reach this maturity sooner in life than I did. I used to care so much about what other people think.

I used to get upset that old ladies in the grocery store would criticize me for not having socks on Seton.

But, now? I don’t care what they think. I know she pulls her socks off.

I used to care about upsetting people in church because Seton is a distraction.

But, now? I don’t care what they think. I know it’s more important for me to bring Seton to church than it is to worry about other people being distracted.

I used to feel so guilty about leaving work in time to pick Seton up from daycare.

But, now? I don’t care what anyone thinks. I know it’s more important that I spend one more waking hour with my daughter than finish discharge summaries or return a phone call from a patient I’ve already spoken to twice about confirming his appointment.

It took becoming a mother for me to fully dissociate myself from others’ concerns and criticisms.

It’s only been one year, and I feel like the person I am and the direction my life is going has completely changed.

And I love it.


6 Comments on Monday Musings | On Motherhood

  1. Love this and love you and Seton!!! I can’t believe she’s turning 1 so soon! Time sure flies. Hope you keep enjoying life and getting the support and love to do whatever’s best for you and your family!!!

  2. Then you worry that you couldn’t possibly love #2 as much as you love #1, but trust me, the love you can experience just keeps growing! Wish we lived closer. I would love a playdate!

  3. Kaylee, the honesty and vulnerability of your very heartfelt words leave me emotional and reflective of a similar crossroads of my own personal maternal experience close to three decades ago. Your ability to express those doubts….especially without fear of judgement or rejection are so powerful and certainly liberating allowing you to focus on the only thing that really matters…your beautiful joy and love for Seton. My favorite definition of motherhood: “losing your mind but finding your soul” thank you.

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