I never thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. When CJ was a baby, we hired a sitter to watch him while I was at work and I can clearly remember her asking me, “Are you sure you won’t change your mind and stay home with him?” I answered her with a resounding “NO.” But then I had my second baby. From the start, Sam needed me more than CJ ever had. He loved to nuzzle and cuddle, and he absolutely hated to be put down. That child took more naps in my arms than CJ ever did. Sam also slept in bed with us. He slept better there, and if I’m honest, having a second child was such a shock to my system that I was too exhausted to carry him back to his room after one of his countless nighttime feedings.
I have been a fitful sleeper ever since I became a nurse. Not sure if it was the pressure of literally having someone’s life in my hands every day (ever dropped a baby? I haven’t, and for good reason—recurring nightmares), but sleep has been a difficult thing since then. The pillows have to be just so, I have to be tired enough that my eyes are closing before I even turn out the light, and I have to have had one of my three sleep buddies: Ambien, Benadryl, or Nyquil.
All that changed with Sam. For him to cosleep with us, the pillows had to go. I gave up my long loved stomach sleeping, pillow-hugging position in favor of a side-lying one, my head on my pillow and my arm outstretched at a ninety-degree angle, as much for balance as to accommodate Sam’s feeding needs. He would wake up, suckle rhythmically, and I would wake too, fighting off sleep and trying to make sure I wasn’t going to smother him with one of my boobs. Invariably, though, I’d fall back asleep while he was still nursing, and I’d wake up two hours later to Sam’s snorts and grunts that told me he was hungry again. I’d maneuver around him carefully, switching sides, and we’d do it all over.
CJ made me a mother, there’s no doubt about that. But the journey with him was long and hard, and I felt blessed by caregivers that at times, seemed to know him better than I did. That combined with the fact that those caregivers gave me a welcome break was comforting and guilt-inflicting all at once.
Sam, on the other hand, made me want to be a mother. I wanted to stay home with him, to slog through those early cereal feedings and nasty diapers, to support him as he learned to sit up, crawl, and walk. I have a different job now than I did with CJ, and being home during the day has been absolutely wonderful. Yes, I went through a period of adjustment, and yes, it’s taken me almost a year to get to this place of happiness, but I’m here. When I watch my kids screaming with joy at the park, drawing together at the art table, or even if we’re just snuggling on the couch with the TV tuned to Disney Jr., my heart fills to overflowing. I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Photos of baby Sam by Knight Light Photography