A little over nine weeks ago I became a father. Although I had nine months to prepare...well, about two years to prepare as I went through surrogacy...well, 10+ years to prepare as I went through this in my head...nothing really prepares you for that moment when your life changes in an indescribable way. I admit that I imagined seeing my children and breaking down into tears that "the moment" had finally arrived and I would be overcome with a love that I've never felt before.
Here's my big secret: that didn't happen.
Do I love my children? Yes. Was I feeling things at that moment I've never felt before? Yes. Did my body release so many endorphins that my head exploded from the emotion? No.
Let's review what happened...
I had been up about 20 hours by the time the children arrived. I had been in a hospital room for about 10 hours going back and forth between bored and freezing. The induction was a little bit of a surprise because it wasn't supposed to happen for another four days so I was caught off guard. When the doctors decided it was time to push, my surrogate and her mother went into the delivery room while Derek and I stayed in the hospital room not knowing how long it would be until we met our children. When we met the children a nurse gave me Aaron and told me to feed him even though I told her I had no idea what I was doing. Then the next nine weeks has been a blur thanks to screaming babies, moving, and 4-5 hours of sleep a night...on a good night.
Here are my other secrets: There have been moments when I wondered why I thought I could do this. There have been moments when I was more frustrated than in love with these kids. There have been moments when I wished I had the freedom and flexibility I had 10 weeks ago.
Now here is your secret: You probably felt the same way. As I talk to other parents and say how hard it is I hear comments like, "I didn't like my daughter for the first several months" and "Anyone who says newborns are cute hasn't taken care of a newborn or they have lost their mind."
It's nice to know that these feelings are common. We're taught that the moment you see your baby life will change in an instant and it will all be 100% blissful, but I think that's just what TV and the movies say. I'm learning that it's normal to have some negative emotions - frustration, fear, stress, etc. - and all that means is that I'm the same as everyone else.
It's now 11:06 p.m. and the twins are both asleep. They are starting to sleep for longer stretches of time. They are smiling more and can sometimes be content to look at objects dangling from their bouncy chairs or sit in my lap for 10-15 minutes. Life is starting to calm down which lets me enjoy the calm more. And even though I've been hoping to have a little more rest, here's another secret: I'm watching them sleep and wishing one of them would wake up so I can cuddle him in my arms.
I went back and read my blog from the beginning a little while ago and my first post talks about enjoying each moment because the weeks and months will fly by. I'm going to try to remember that when I'm frustrated or upset or doubting myself.
At 11:15 p.m., as I was proofreading this entry, Jeff woke up. I got to cuddle him in my arms. By midnight Aaron woke up and he screamed his head off during the diaper and clothing change. But I got to cuddle him in my arms too. Part of me wishes they hadn't woken up so I could have rested more, but the other 99% of me will remember what I told myself in the first post: enjoy the moment I just had with them when they were 9 weeks and almost 2 days old.