On this day 15 years ago, I welcomed my very first baby into the world with the help my husband. I was in total denial that I was even in labor when my contractions began. I thought I had indigestion from the steak that I indulged in earlier that night, and maybe I was a bit tired from all the walking and the shopping that I did all through out the day.
After Gia was born, while we were still in the hospital, both of us recovering from the arrival, I realized that I was unsure of the adventure I was embarking on. I don’t mean that I was unsure of the fact that I wanted to be a mother…I had wanted to be a Mommy for as long as I could remember…I was unsure of my ability to take care of another human being who was completely dependent on me for every single thing.
I was afraid I wouldn’t be a GOOD mother, and I thought I might hurt or “break” the baby that I was blessed with because I was so very nervous. I remember at some point during our hospital stay that Gia had some extra mucous stuck in her throat and it was causing her to choke. It was a good thing the nurse was there at that exact time, teaching me how to give her a bath! She whisked Gianina away to the nursery so that she could suction the mucous out effectively and came back with a smile. Here I was wanting to break down and cry…and the nurse was smiling and chatting away about the bath time we would have together when I brought my daughter home.
I thought to myself that if I was home, I wouldn’t know how to react to this kind of emergency and I voiced my concern to Nino that maybe we should stay a couple of more days in the hospital just to be sure we learned everything we needed to know about taking care of a little girl on our own.
When I would hold Gia and nurse her as a baby, she would do this thing where she would use her free hand to stroke my arm as she would fall asleep. I knew she would be nodding off when she stopped sticking her fingers in the sleeve of my shirt and twirling the fabric. As a toddler, I knew and looked forward to the one last yawn she would have before she would nod off to dream land because I knew that I could stay in the crook of her neck and take in the wonderful sweet baby smell that was always a combination of intoxication, comfort, and had a feel of soft powdery heaven.
As she grew into a precocious little girl, my mother in law would often recall the nights when she first stayed with us after Gia was born. She shared with me that she was so surprised when she heard me singing my daughter back to sleep at 3 am after a changing and a feeding. She would share that she knew that Gia was the smart, endearing, and quick on her feet little girl because she was so well loved.
I remember all those years ago Nino and I thought we were ready for parenting. I thought I would dress my little girl up and she would be my mini me, she would love doing the things that I did, she would be caring, and helpful and intelligent. I remember thinking that I would teacher all the great many things that I learned along the way about girlfriends, boyfriends, life and love.
And now, I think back to that point when the expectations of parenting my beautiful little girl shifted…I realized that she would become her own person, she will figure out what it is that she really liked, and she would make decisions for herself that I would ultimately back up because I know that it is part of my job to be her biggest cheerleader.
I realized that it wasn’t just my job to teach her, shape her values, and guide her in understanding what was right and wrong. In fact, I realized that she had been teaching me all along, without her even knowing it. I have learned from her quiet way of problem solving, her strength and resolve in difficult situations, her creativity that surpasses anything I could ever imagine for myself and her kindness. Oh, how I have learned from her kindness…
Nino and I may have been ready for parenting back then simply because we were ready for a baby to love and cherish and care for…but I know that I can speak for both of us when I say we were not aware of just how much parenting would change us…how much more conservative we would become, how much more tender we would learn to be, and how much more grateful we would be as each year passed and we watch our cute little monchichi grow into a strong, graceful, intuitive, intelligent young lady.
Happy Birthday Big Girl. Even if you are fifteen already…you know you will always be my baby.