I do not have a lot of experience with babies other than the Barking one. I just haven't really been around many babies. I have 4 nieces, ages 14 to a-couple-month-shy-of-3, but when most of them were born I was not ready for my own babies yet, so my interest in them was centered on cuddling and playing. I really didn't pay attention to the rest of it. And they were all born in a different city, so I wasn't around for the nitty-gritty of the newborn days. I didn't get to observe it, think of questions to ask, and essentially be taught how to care for an infant.
The summer after my sophomore year of college I worked at a Christian conference center in Glorieta, New Mexico. I participated in a discipleship program that required us to work at the conference center, so I applied to work in the nursery, thinking it would be educational for me to spend some time with babies and learn a little about them. Instead I was placed in housekeeping. Apparently they did not want me practicing on their babies.
In nursing school, I had a Labor and Delivery rotation. I swear if I had been married I would have gotten pregnant that semester. You'd think that an unmarried (and celibate) 21-year-old watching a natural birth would be very effective birth control, but it had the opposite effect on me. I knew I had witnessed a miracle. And when I was standing in that hospital nursery surrounded by newborn babies that I was allowed to and also too afraid to touch, my uterus started to bloom.
When I turned 25, something clicked and all the sudden my ovaries were aching. I felt ready to have a baby, like now. J and I had been married 2 1/2 years and the only serious discourse we'd had on procreation was that we wanted to wait and enjoy our first years of marriage. Right around this time we were approached and felt lead by the Lord to start a community group at our church to plan a short-term mission trip to South Africa the following year. Our best friends were pregnant with their first, and I vicariously enjoyed her pregnancy and birth while we planned for South Africa. I knew God was saying, "Wait for it, waaaait for it.....".
Little C was born and I got my first real close-up view of a newborn baby, and what life was like when these mysterious creatures entered your home. I got to hear real details about registering, nesting, birthing, diapering, and sleep deprivation, and though I had probably heard some of it before, suddenly it was so relevant to me! I was allowed to hold the 8 little pounds of him all by myself while his mommy napped and I started to think, "I can do this." Trying when we got home from South Africa slowly became more of a reality and less of a fantasy to me.
Once we were pregnant with BB I knew there was no turning back. We were going to have a baby. That would turn into a child. That would turn into an adult. That would forever be deeply impacted by days that he would never consciously remember, days that I would be responsible for instilling love and value and security in, armed only with the folklore-ish "motherly instincts" that were supposed to kick in and a bunch of books by a bunch of strangers that had never met me or my baby (And my mom on speed-dial, of course). I prepared the only way I knew how, by trying to find the perfect baby equipment and perfect bottles and decorating the nursery (for the baby, of course, because he would be so aware of his room decorations :) ), and every time we stepped into Babies R Us I was reminded of how little I knew.
As it turns out, BB doesn't care what stroller I picked, or whether I use the cloth diapers the way they are supposed to be used (I don't). Turns out he doesn't care how little I know about babies. None of that affects whether he will smile, turn his head a little shyly and do one long blink when I'm putting him down for a nap, which is BB for "I love you". Turns out I don't need to know all about babies, because I know him. Turns out that the overflowing amount of love I feel for him is what he cares about. I never knew I could feel this way. I just love him to teeny-tiny pieces and then back to whole again. And I'm okay with not knowing exactly how this mothering thing works. I'm learning as I go. The Lord has said that I am the perfect mommy for BB, and I am thankful for this honor. And now I get to see this everday:
And for all of you Mommys-to-be out there who don't know anything about babies, I am comforted by 2 Peter 1:3: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." The Lord gives me everything I need for life and godliness when I seek to know Him. Everything for life?!? I guess that includes mommyhood.