The First Moment I Felt Like a Parent

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In every friend group there is the “mom” friend. The friend that has extra snacks, a bandaid, and two bottles of hand sanitizer in her purse at all times. This friend is me. I’m the friend who can’t help but fold your laundry if I see it out. (Not because I don’t think you can, it’s just a reflex). I am the friend who is forever the designated driver, who worries you’ll be kidnapped if you use dating apps, and who feels the need to cook you food if you seem sick.
However, now I am actually a “real” mom!! So many people have asked if I feel any different. If I feel like a parent. In some ways I feel the same! But in a lot of ways I do feel different. Several people have asked when I felt like a parent for the first time, when it hit me.
In my post about Nolie’s birth I mentioned that I was dishcharged a full day before her. This was because when they came in Friday night to run some tests they discovered she was jaundice. I’m not a doctor, and I really didn’t understand everything they said. However, basically her body had too much of something which can cause brain damages if levels get too high. They told us to strip her down to just a diaper and we put her in this plastic crib. She was laying on top of a UV light and there was one above her as well. She had to wear this little headgear to protect her eyes. Let me just tell you- Nolie hated it. Oh she hated it so much! The second you put her down she would begin to scream at the top of her lungs. It was non stop. It was the most heart wrenching sound I had ever heard.
Every three hours we could take her out and feed her, they gave me a max of thirty minutes each time. The second I pulled her to me she immediately stopped crying. She didn’t make a single sound. I could feel her whole body relax and she would immediately fall into a deep sleep, exhausted from the non stop wailing. I couldn’t even get her to stay awake to eat. (I ended up having to pump and Michael syringe fed her. She seriously was so worn out).
After several hours I found myself sitting in the dark in a rolling desk chair. Michael was trying to sleep. I had my head leaned up against the plastic with my hand slid under the light, trying to soothe her. This was the hardest moment. I knew if I just took her out and held her that her screams would silence. No one would know, the nurses wouldn’t be back for hours. However, I knew for her health she needed to be under that light.
I was suddenly reminded of a time I got in trouble with my dad. I don’t remember what for and I don’t remember what the punishment was other than I was devastated. I remember my dad looking at me with sad eyes and telling me that he didn’t want to, but he had to punish me for my own good. I think I had gotten grounded and I desperately wanted it to be lifted for a night for something that at the time felt incredibly important. I couldn’t comprehend why if he didn’t want to punish me and I didn’t want to be punished, why were we still talking about it!
The answer was that he was instilling in me a great understanding of consequences that has served me well every day of my life. He taught me to trust his word – whether he promises to take me to the movies or that if I missed curfew I would be punished. He had to play an un-fun role so that I could grow.
Sometimes being a good parent means you don’t get to be your kid’s friend and that’s okay. Sometimes being a parent means that you have to follow through with something, even if it breaks your heart because the most important thing is the long term physical and moral development of your child.
Listening to my brand new baby scream with such vigor absolutely broke my heart. I just cried and cried because it felt like I could feel her fear and pain. I have never felt more helpless. I knew I could short term fix it in a second, but I couldn’t do that. She was under that light for 23 hours and I’ve never been so emotionally spent. It took everything in me to leave her laying there screaming. I think that is the first time I truly felt like a parent.

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