What I wasn't expecting was how bone deep it goes. How I was selfish and entitled about things that I didn't even cross my radar because I think all human beings - scratch that, all comfortable middle class first-world dwellers - would consider them to be things in which we have a certain right to count on.
Like sleep ... or being able to use the restroom whenever you want to ... or maintaining a respectable level of personal hygiene ... or being able to do something "for myself" that isn't interrupted ... or having SOME kind of set routine.
But then there's the deeper areas, usually ones that directly tie into my relationship with God:
Like wanting to be able to protect Z from everything, and realizing I can't. My heart kind of rages at God, sometimes, for giving me someone so vulnerable and not give me the ability to guarantee their safety, completely. In my selfishness I want the comfort of knowing Z will never come to harm. I realize now, why some women miss being pregnant. There's something about seeing your child in the real world - that is scary and hard and full of pain, at times - that makes you want to wrap them up, have them safely back inside you, close to your heart.
Or the times I feel (quite frankly) like throwing my own tantrum because of how much Z demands of me. This is not a lie: the other night, Z was waking up every hour to eat and then would fall asleep after only ten minutes of nursing. While I was sleep-deprivation-sobbing in bed, my husband put his hand on my shoulder and tried to comfort me. I then preceded to throw his hand off of me and tell him that I didn't want to be comforted by anyone who got to sleep through the night. (Classy, eh?)
When I began to spend concentrated amounts of time sitting on a couch or a bed, nursing Z, and all of a sudden my activities were limited to what I could accomplish in one to two hour chunks of time between feedings, God shed light on how selfish my priorities are. The things that mattered the most to me actually don't matter at all. Like focusing on if people think I'm a good mom instead of focusing on the fact that even if I'm not the best mom, my son is healthy and oh, yeah, I have an extremely supportive and amazing husband that is in this with me.
And during those long, concentrated amounts of time, one of the few things I can do is pray, and talk to God. We've been having some honest conversations, me and Him, about how it's time to grow and how He knows full well the pain of sacrifice and what it feels like to watch your child suffer.
It's ridiculously hard to look in the mirror and realize how much SELF takes up my heart and mind and I can't help but feel lighter, less burdened, at the thought of not caring so much about ... me.
Probably because there will be more space in my heart for the things that matter: Jesus, my husband, Z, my family, and friends.
And probably because the burdens that come with being selfless are much lighter than the burdens that come with being loaded down with self.
There's still a long way to go in this postpartum learning curve. Some days I feel like I've been thrown into the deep end and I didn't even know I was going swimming, other days I'm so enthralled by Z that I just want to sit and do nothing but watch him grow. This parent-love is a rough-and-tumble sort of love. It's there, as natural as breathing, and much like my son grew and pushed and took up more and more space while I carried him, my love for him does the same thing. It grows and pushes it's way into my heart, leaving me with a strength and weakness I never knew I had.