Everyone tells you that the first few weeks are difficult. When I was pregnant, all my friends with children told me variations of "it's so much easier when they're on the inside." I knew that for me it would be true enough: I had an "easy," happy pregnancy, but I was anxious about le Petit's arrival. Before he was born I kept telling him to be patient with his mom, that I had no idea what I was doing and would surely be a klutz at first. I promised I'd apply myself and learn fast.
However anxious I'd been, the first six weeks were even more difficult than I'd imagined. I need sleep, I need predictability, or so I thought: I improvised, we made it. On le Petit's two-month birthday I still felt more or less the same way I did when I finished the Paris Marathon: exhausted, amazed that I'd survived, and wondering if I'd just signed up to do the stupidest thing I'd ever attempted in my life.
But somewhere along the way le Petit started smiling. And talking to us. He addresses us with such earnest "arreughs" that we can't help but pay attention.
I'll also admit that after a month and a half of being taken care of by my husband, my mother-in-law, and my husband's aunt, I was dreading my husband's return to work full time. I didn't know how well I'd do on my own all day with le Petit. Indeed, the first days were stressful, tiring, but slowly I learned the tricks I needed to make it work.
And then one day last week it all clicked into place. I went to the hopital for a postnatal meeting and ended up as the only mother who showed up, so I had a private consultation with the children's nurse. She gave me some breastfeeding advice, then reassured me that in general I was doing just fine. And it suddenly occurred to me that she was right.
After the meeting, le Petit and I went on our near-daily walk along the Seine. It was a beautifully sunny day, and Paris was bathed in a kind of golden sunlight particular to September. Le Petit was hungry so we stopped in a park. We sat on a bench along the river, where le Petit stared up happily at the trees and I watched the barges go by. He finished nursing and I sat him on my lap and leaned over him and held him close.
The stress and fatigue of the last two months evaporated, at least for that moment, and all that was left was joy. The joy of being his mother. The joy of sharing a perfect autumn day with him for the very first time.