I first became a mother that day I called my own mom to tell her the test was positive, 30-some weeks before Liv was born. I loved her, cared for her, suffered needles and blood-draws for her.
Of course, my mettle wasn't tested until many months later when I left my high-energy, high-stress job and headed home with my infant. I spent my first three months in a bathrobe, covered in spit-up, walking the halls, bouncing my newborn and praying for her to stop crying.
I had no idea what I was doing. And I had absolutely zero confidence.
I called my sister-in-law daily just to hear her say that this too shall pass, it does get better, and I'm not a horrible mother. It was absolutely nerve-wracking being a new mom.
But over the past 21 months, I've thrived, and so has Liv. Some days I measure success merely by counting the number of meals served, and some days that's plenty. Some days I'm super-mom, showing Pinterest who's boss. But over those 21 months, I've grown in my confidence that I do have a clue, and this mom thing has become tantamount to riding a bike.
That is, until we brought Matthew home.
Last night I cried. No, I sobbed. And when Mike asked what was wrong, I'm sure he wasn't anticipating this answer.
I didn't know whether I should go ahead and shower that night while he was there to help with the kids, or if I would be able to get a shower in the morning.
I know it's ridiculous. For months I've figured out how to shower alone while letting Liv entertain herself for a few minutes. It's not a huge deal. The worst thing to come of this has been pulled-back shower curtains exposing me to cold air and Liv to an unexpected wash-down.
But suddenly, I have no confidence.
Okay, not NO confidence, but what's there is shaken. My feet are no longer underneath me as I plan outings, errands...even showering. Suddenly I feel like I need a safety net to perform these simple acts.
Again, I call my sister-in-law, telling her about my day and looking for her stamp of approval. Again, I walk the halls and cry sometimes. Again, I feel like a new mom.
When explaining this phenomenon to a dear friend who has been there, it dawned on me what my issue is. And it's an issue I suspect will haunt my motherhood (and bless it) for years to come. Carpenter.
None of us want, need or deserve to question ourselves as mothers once we've lost our children. But it happens to almost every single one of us. It was not our fault--bad things just happen--but that loss forever shakes the confidence that once had us casually discussing running to the grocery store with four kids in tow. Seemingly simple things must be preceded by wondering whether we're up for the task.
I mean, staying pregnant seemed simple enough...
So now I'm starting from scratch. I'm a reborn newbie to this motherhood gig. I feel lost and alone and scared.
But there must be some hope in all this. And there is. Because every once in a while I have little moments that feel like deja vu. Small glimpses into who I was when riding a bike felt that simple. Because I am that person still. Just a slightly dented version of that person. And deep down, I know that I can do this.
Because that was not my fault.
And this is what a mother was born to do.