Yesterday I had to face up to the fact that it’s actually hard. Sure, I can do everything needed to keep our household of four running, especially because I have the hands-on support of friends and family. But yesterday I realized that it’s Lyn who does the lion’s share of taking care of new baby Ira (yes! he has a name now!). I bring Ira to Lyn for a feeding and change his dirty diapers, but Lyn is the one who feeds him and who knows everything there is to know about his ears because she spends hours a day staring at them while nursing.
It turns out that being a non-biological mother is hard. I think it is especially hard for me right now because I remember being in Lyn’s shoes, being the source of nourishment and having the close immediate bond that comes from nursing. I’m afraid I didn’t realize at the time what a privileged position that was. I want Ira to need me and right now he doesn’t. Yes, he will. Yes, I’m working to establish a bond that will be every bit as vital as Lyn’s. But I want him to need me now.
Lyn and I were talking about these feelings this morning, and Lyn pointed out that Leigh needed much more active care-taking when she was a newborn. She demanded constant attention as a little baby (and, um, still does). Lyn had to learn to pacify Leigh very early; otherwise we would have gone crazy from all the crying and/or Leigh would have chewed my nipples right off. Ira (so far) just doesn’t need as much, so there’s less parenting for me to do.
I’ll get over all of this. Ira will need more and more from me. Eventually I’ll even get to nurse him. I’ll grow more and more comfortable as an NGP. But before he was born I apparently believed that knowing all about the challenges of being a non-bio mom and already being comfortable with the role of mother meant that I would not have to feel any pain at all. Now I feel what I knew before in my head: that being a non-bio mom isn’t easy. But it does come with a lot of benefits. I got to be with Lyn, supporting her in one of the most challenging things she’ll ever do. I got to feel and hold Ira as he was being born. I even got to nurse him for a few minutes after Lyn was taken to the OR to get repair work done. And I get to fall in love with Lyn all over again because she’s given such a precious gift.