I thought I was all ready for my daughter’s firsts—her first smile, her first month birthday, her first Christmas. These and other milestones we expected to experience over her first few weeks of life were eagerly anticipated. What surprised me, though, were the other firsts—ones that may generally be over-looked—expected, but perhaps under-rated.
Our First Stroll
I noticed mothers pushing their children in strollers many times, but moreso when I was pregnant. “Soon,” I thought to myself. “Soon that will be me and my baby.” As someone who had to wait a few years before being able to have a baby, imagining that I would be pushing a stroller of my own was a dream come true. And the best part – would be gazing into the sweet face of MY own flesh and blood.
It was our first outing as a family since coming home to the hospital. A quick trip to the local Starbucks so that I could grab a quick coffee and briefly interact with the outside world. My husband clicked our daughter’s car seat onto her stroller and started to push her down the sidewalk. I quickly nudged in beside him and took the handle bar.
“You don’t understand how much this moment means to me, “ I said, my eyes welling up in tears. “I’ve been waiting to do this forever.”
My husband seemed to initially have more success to getting our baby to sleep than I did in the first few weeks. However, he was back to work, and I needed to take the lead in helping our baby daughter sleep at night. Furthermore, I needed to squash the lingering thoughts in the back of my head that fed my insecurity about being unable to soothe my baby.
As parents, I think the first skills you quickly develop is the “sway” or rocking your body side to side. Once your body learns it, it becomes ingrained in your muscles.
The first time I rocked my daughter to sleep symbolized a motherhood victory for me.
It was actually less about getting her to sleep, and moreso realizing that I had taken my own “baby step” forward in coming to my own as a mother – someone who could provide, care for and build trust with my daughter.
Like many mothers, the first six weeks of motherhood was so hard. I was feeling helpless during those times that she fussed, and it seems that nothing could calm her. Or was it that I feared I didn’t have it in me to know what my daughter actually needed.
It was on one of those long nights where I was trying to lull my baby to sleep. I can’t remember how many times I sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” or if I was rambling something random to her, but all of a sudden, my daughter looked up at me. Like, right into my eyes.
I felt, in that moment, that she had looked directly into my soul.
All of a sudden I felt like we made our first connection – and I realized that she was truly counting on me, to be her guide in this world. And she was this sponge, ready to soak in whatever I had to tell and show her about this world I helped bring her into.
Our First Story
It wasn’t necessarily the first book I read her, but the first time I had read the book I had been waiting to read to her.
I had bought “Guess How Much I Love You” about two years prior to getting pregnant.
I had propped it up on top of my dresser, waiting for the baby that it would eventually belong to.
My daughter was about two months old before I finally read it to her. She seemed to be more alert and engaged when I read her books by that time, so I thought it was the perfect time to introduce this story to her.
As I read the story of Little Nutbrown Hare and his father, I could not have felt more proud. Of course, I read the book with welled-up eyes and a voice choking back tears. My baby would not have known the difference. But I knew – that this book had patiently waited for this very special moment to be shared.
What Are Your Firsts?
If you are a new mother, can you think back to some special moments that were more sentimental than you expected? Or if you are expecting a baby, what moments are waiting to create with your little one?
For each of us, these “firsts” will take different forms, but more important is this question—How can we be more present in the moment, to help us recognize the unexpected memories that have the most profound impact?