Becoming a parent has a lot of romance to it, on the surface: Falling in love with your baby. Rocking her to sleep. Chubby little fingers and toes. Laughs and smiles. All the firsts new parents dream of experiencing, whether they are biological parents or adoptive parents. But of course, it’s not ALL magic, ALL the time. And with adopting, from what I have heard, depending on the age of your child and what they have experienced and what you’ve experienced, there are many particular challenges and rewards and unique moments of magic during that first few weeks with your child.
And, inevitably, it gets me to thinking.
I’ve read a fair bit in books and on other adoptive parents’ blogs about their first week or two with their child. It’s sometimes scary, sometimes heartbreaking, often very moving stuff to read, as parents learn to be parents and form a bond with their child. And when I push aside all the romantic thoughts of parenthood, and look at those first few days and weeks, I admit I am alternately terrified of the prospect and impatient for it to begin.
Things I worry about:
- New mommy things. Feeding. Comforting. Packing enough and the right stuff. Being up all night.
- That first time our child is sick, and being completely at a loss as to what to do. Heck, make that ANY time our child is sick. What do I do? How will I know what the right thing to do is? It’s terrifying.
- Having an inconsolable baby who is mourning and not being able to do anything to comfort them. It’s enough to break your heart and test your endurance, and it comes right up front in the whole “new parent” thing.
- Being able to afford everything from here on. Most adopting parents know the cash crunch — will I have enough to X? where will I get the money for Y? how will I pay off the debt for Z? And, like most adopting parents, we were not rolling in the dough before we started — in fact, it was by sheer good fortune, a couple of nifty financial people’s advice, and love that we were able to start on this journey in the first place. But I think this is a worry that never goes away for most people. It’s part of life. And looking at your child, knowing you will be caring for this little person from here on in, it suddenly takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes a very concrete thing, suddenly. “I will always take care of you.”
- Travelling. I don’t mind BEING someplace, it’s the getting there that I worry about. I am not a good traveller — at least, by plane. And actually, the travelling in the plane itself is not so bad, but it’s the up and the down I worry about most.
- Travelling with an upset baby. Especially when you don’t know each other very well yet.
Things I look forward to:
- When we can no longer refer to Mystery Baby as Mystery Baby, because he or she is no longer a mystery.
- Having moments of discovery as a parent, like finding a song that works to soothe the baby, or what sorts of first foods he likes, or what toys are favourites.
- Getting consistently good at feeding and diapering. (I used to be good at it once. Here’s hoping it’s like riding a bike.)
- That first time our baby recognizes us as his parents. Whether it’s acknowledging us by need or by name, it will be such an awesome thing to know that our child thinks of us as his own.
- That first baby belly laugh, when he begins to feel safe with us and the fear has passed. I think it will be a huge emotional sigh of relief for us, to confirm that we CAN get over the grieving part and that the bonding part is on its way.
- Seeing the baby want to snuggle with Grammy or fall for Granddad’s baby-whisperer charms (as grandchildren inevitably do).
- Being home, together.
It seems like forever from now.