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I Told My Daughter She Had To Go Back

photo credit: KungPaoCajun via photopin cc
photo credit: KungPaoCajun

I was excited beyond words to be leaving the hospital the day after Lillian was born. This had been my first stay in that fine establishment and I just wanted to get home where I wasn’t woken up by a blood pressure cuff or a nurse coming in every few hours to press on my now deflated uterus. I wanted to be home. While Luke and his family chatted and stared at my sleeping, swaddled daughter, I was rushing around the room packing up everything because it was time to go.

We arrived home in the late afternoon and everything was fine. She was sleeping in the Pack and Play in our room and Luke and I stared at each other with looks of, “Well… now what?” This was going to be a breeze, right?

I don’t remember much about that first night–I don’t know if any mother really does–but what I do remember is heartbreaking. I remember sitting on the couch, both Lillian and I crying our little eyes out, and saying over and over, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. You have to go back.”

I loved her. I was happy she was in the real world instead of the wonderland that was my woman parts. But I was scared. Terrified. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even have told you at the time what “it” was but I knew I was incapable.

Here’s the thing. I had never raised a baby before. I didn’t know what I was doing or should’ve been doing. There is no manual. It’s like if you rode around in a car for 10 months, then you bought a car of your own, and someone said, “Take it home” before you had ever been behind the wheel. No one would ever do that. It would be tragically unsafe.

I felt that allowing me to bring this new baby home was equally perilous. There was no book I had to study before I could take her home. There was no practice baby I had to keep alive for a few days before I was given my own. All that happened was my birth control failed me, Luke and I made a decision to trust that God thought we could raise a kid, and I pushed my baby girl out into my doctor’s hands. That was it.

And now I was in charge of raising this new baby? What’s wrong with you people?

That’s how I felt that first night. I felt scared and alone and lost without a map. I was terrified and certain that I wouldn’t be able to do this motherhood thing. Someone else had to take her. Someone who knew what they were doing. Someone who could do it better.

I survived that first night. And the second. And now Lillian is closing in on two and a half years old. That same fear that I’m incapable and incompetent follows me around all day like a demonic chihuahua nipping at my heels at every misstep. It’s been harder than anything else in my life. It’s been more difficult and challenging than I could have ever imagined. There are still days where I think, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.”

But I never, ever, ever think “You have to go back” like I did that first night.

She is my daughter. My first born. My blue eyed, spunky little girl. She is a joy. And she’s mine.

I’m still uncertain and unsteady as I hobble down this road of motherhood. But at the end of the day when I tuck her into her big girl bed, tell her I love her, and she says, “I love you, Mom,” I know that no one else can raise her better than me.

10 thoughts on “I Told My Daughter She Had To Go Back

  1. Christina Mayer

    I always love your honesty. You say what most new moms are probably thinking that first night whether their pregnancy was planned or not. When the littles were placed with us, my sister said each night she would tell herself, I just need to keep them alive until morning, then I can call social services and have them come get them…. Of course, she never made that call and now they are part of our forever family. One step at a time.

  2. tonihammer

    Your sister is my new favorite person. I wish I had thought of that line.I’m glad they’re a part of your family as well. They are super lucky. 🙂

  3. Lindsey A

    I am positive that this is how I feel when I bring AdventureBaby home from the hospital in January. I already feel like this sometimes! Thank you for always bringing this kind of stuff to light – makes me feel like I’m not such an asshole.

  4. Rose

    When I had my first baby all those years ago we lived around the corner from the hospital.That first night home I walked the house with him and had this insane desire to creep round the corner and put him back in the hospital nursery! Someone had given me a pair of pyjamas for a one year old. I used to take them out on bad days and think “Aunty Ida has faith that I am capable of raising him, so best I get on with it” It’s a totally indescribable experience, bringing your first baby home, but so very enriching!

  5. Toni Hammer

    Thanks for the honesty and encouragement, Rose!

  6. Wendy

    Although I think that regularly now my two are 10 and 13, (It might make my eyes water, though) I didn’t get that the first night. First night for me was very surreal. I don’t know if it is for everyone, or just because I’d had 48hours of exhaustion first, but I remember looking across at my little bundle in the crib next to me in hospital and thinking, ‘bloody hell, that’s MY baby. How bizarre that I should have a baby!’ No overwhelming sense of love, more… surprize.

  7. Terry

    Thank you SOOO much for posting this, I thought I was the only one who had ever thought that. In the middle of the night a couple days after I brought my firstborn home, I told my husband that I needed to take her back because I just couldn’t do it. Naturally he talked me out of it and she is now 32. I have always felt guilty about that, thank you again for letting me know that it was actually a normal occurrence.

  8. Toni Hammer

    Exactly. More surprise than love. Perfect.

  9. Toni Hammer

    Oh I’m so glad this piece comforted you! You’re welcome! <3

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