I have written a lot about Grace in the last almost-five weeks, but I haven't written too much about being a mom. So here goes! I know that it is totally a cliche, but I really feel like I was born to be Grace's mother. It blows my mind everyday that Kristoffer and I were able to create something so perfect. She relies on me to love, nurture and feed her, and I am ever so happy to comply. She is changing everyday and I love experiencing those changes with her. I feel so powerful that I was able to bring something so beautiful into this world and I take the responsibility of helping her become a smart, funny, interesting, caring, loving and kind human being very seriously. It is an honor to be Grace's mother - as cheesy as that sounds. My love for her is infinite and it is the most powerful emotion I have ever felt.
As wonderful as motherhood is, it isn't without challenges. Mostly, I am really tired and feel like I have sort of a permanent "jet lag" - where I can function but feel like I am on a different clock than the rest of the world. Exclusive breastfeeding is a full time job and I feel like my entire day is feeding, changing, and comforting Grace. I realize, however, that I have it "easy" compared to most other new moms. I have a full-time housekeeper so that I never have to do laundry, clean the house, or prepare a meal! I literally can devote my whole day to Grace with occasional moments to blog, pay bills, shower before Kristoffer gets home (on a good day!) or sleep when she is sleeping. I have also had my parents with us since the morning after we came home from the hospital and they have been enormously helpful with Grace. I don't take it for granted that our expat-lifestyle in Kenya makes the transition to motherhood much easier than if we were in the US or Denmark and I am very grateful for that!
All the help I have doesn't change the fact that my decision making process has completely changed - Grace is now a major factor in everything we do and also how we do it! I am happy when she is sleeping, but I also look forward to when she wakes up so that I can see what facial expressions she will make (she has so many!) or what her hands will do (they are very active!). The other difference that I strongly feel is that Kristoffer and I are really no longer "just" a couple...we are a family! We have a connection now that I feel is even stronger than our marriage vows alone - we have Grace! I once read in a "new mom" book that the best thing parents can do is to openly show love for each other in front of their children. That is a gift Kristoffer and I are happy to give our daughter.
So far as her mother, I don't think I have done anything to royally screw Grace up. Yes, I did once scratch her with the velcro on her bib and another time I scratched her with my needed-to-be-cut fingernail, and occasionally I wait a few minutes too long to feed her if I have to go to the bathroom or something...but I doubt she will remember such traumas (even though she screamed bloody murder at the time!). I haven't yet embarrassed her in public or left her in a grocery store, but I do often forget to put a bib on her so she is frequently covered in spit up and has several wardrobe changes everyday.
I am guilty of showering her with hundreds of kisses everyday, of sometimes holding her a little too long in the middle of the night before putting her down after she has eaten, of singing "Amazing Grace" to her maybe one too many times a day, of staring at her while she is sleeping for at least one or two hours a day, and of generally "spoiling" her with my arms and attention whenever I have the chance. So far though, the system is working. Grace is healthy, happy (except for yesterday - she had her first really bad day), and growing everyday.
The verdict is that, while I am sure it will get harder and more challenging and more stressful and I will have plenty of days when I just don't know what the heck I am doing or how I will get through it, this motherhood gig is pretty fantastic so far and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.