So here we are in Los Angeles, clear across the continent from home, sitting in Grandma and Grandpa's house enjoying the Southern California sunshine and all the attention that only grandparents know how to give. This is Sammy's first trip and what a trip it's been. We leave for our home in NYC tomorrow but we've been soaking up all the love over the past week and a half.
Being in your childhood home as a new mother is a strange experience. Of course, nothing makes my parents happier than taking care of my newborn son. It is at once a challenge and a joy to see him in their arms. As "mom" I have a territorial instinct to not let anyone touch or even look at my son, but as "daughter" I so badly want my parents to feel the joy that comes from caring for their grandson.
I brought my pump with me so that I would be able to go out for a few hours, trusting only my parents to baby-sit Sammy. What a treat! A few hours out on Saturday night made me feel like a human being again. The memories of my pre-Sammy life came flooding back. I even treated myself to some sangria.
I think the biggest compliment that my mother paid me during the course of our trip was how impressed she was at my ability to relinquish the baby. I am proud to say that I was indeed able to pass him along to neighbors and friends (only after they had thoroughly washed their hands!) so they could get to know our little bundle of joy. Of course, the second his mood began to change everyone would pass him back to mom. It was truly a delight to see the way Sammy brought smiles to so many people's faces.
Perhaps the only challenge I faced while in LA was where to nurse. My father did not want to be in the room while I nursed but was very gracious about excusing himself so that I would not have to be inconvenienced. I nursed Sammy in all sorts of places, in the front seat of the car while in a parking structure, in my neighbor's backyard, in so many places that were brand new worlds for Sammy. It was exciting to see my old home through his eyes. I was nervous that he would be uncomfortable because there were so many new smells, sights and sounds, but as my mom said, "so long as Mama's there, its home."
The first few days I would leave one of my shirts right next to him to put him to sleep. I would check on him even more than usual because I wanted him to feel at home in this strange place that was actually my home. I feel that this trip has taught me a lot about myself as a mother. I was able to let Sammy go, to a certain degree, I was able to instruct family and friends about his needs and wants. I was able to be his mom. My parents were impressed with how well I already knew my child, in fact my mother said, "I don't think we ever knew you children this well."
There were moments of true pride and moments of breakdown. Being around people I trust so implicitly allowed me to really feel vulnerable for the first time since having Sammy. I was able to at once realize that I am doing a great job as a mother while also understanding that I have so much to learn.
The challenge now lies in maintaining my confidence as a mother without all of this support around me. Moms who live far from family, let me know how you're doing. Let me know about the support networks you've built for yourselves away from your loved ones.