A few days postpartum and I sat in bed feeling sorry for myself. After an unexpected c-section, I was angry about the post-surgical restrictions placed on my maternity leave, mostly that I couldn’t run around with my 2-year-old. Our 4-story home was a challenge to the no-stairs mandate, so I was mostly confined to one floor with a bedroom and bathroom. Unable to pick up my toddler, I couldn’t put him in his high chair, hold him, or lift him from his crib. All of our usual routines were disrupted. It pained me to hear him asking for me and not be able to run upstairs to satisfy his pleas. I missed the usual mundane tasks, like dropping him off at school. I felt left out when hearing him playing with his dad or grandparents. I sat in bed wrapped in my own blanket of pity.
After a disastrous toddler bedtime on my first night home (full of heart-wrenching screams for mommy and my doing 4 flights of stairs against doctors orders), my husband came up with the brilliant idea to alter our routine so that he would read his bedtime stories in my room rather than his nursery, which would allow me to remain a part of this nightly tradition without jeopardizing my recovery. “I have books for you, mommy,” he said as he proudly marched into my room with his wet hair combed neatly and his cheeks flushed and dewy. I wrapped my one free arm around his tiny, but strong, shoulders while his baby sister slept on my chest.
I started to read Curious George Goes to the Zoo. I’ve read it enough that I don’t think I actually looked at the words, but instead glanced around me at the people I love most in the world snuggled in my bed. With the birth of little G, my family feels complete. My thoughts shifted from those of self-pity to those of gratitude. Although I was unable to fully participate in N’s life for the next 2 weeks, I have a lifetime ahead to enjoy these precious gifts. Overwhelmed, I started to cry. N looked at me, perplexed and fearful about why Curious George would prompt such an emotional response. I tried to reassure him, but his concern over my well-being just made me cry more. I am the luckiest mom alive.
As N left my room that night for bed, he turned to his dad, patted Curious George and said, “this book makes mommy cry.” Wiping away my tears and putting on my bravest face, I reassured him by saying that he makes mommy happy, because nothing could be more true.