I remember going to the hospital to simply run some tests, after an appointment with my OBGYN- obstetrician/ gynecologist- showed some minor concerns. I still hear one of the nurses talking down to me because of the many glasses of strawberry lemonade I had for lunch beforehand. She told me because it’s because she was concerned with my sugar intake, she assumed I drank like that all the time. My mother -who’s a short, blond haired, blue eyed woman- had left me so that she could have a smoke break, which was not a real concern. By the time the doctor and his colleagues came in, I was annoyed and not particularly worried about the baby. As this elderly man with a routine expression and a calm demeanor stepped into the room, he proceeds to say, “I’m afraid I don’t like the baby not being as active as she should,” I froze, completely terrified within an instant, “so, me and the other doctors want to induce you.” I was all alone not really registering what was being said. “Okay,” I muttered, “when?” Without hesitation, “right now.” Eighteen hours later Luna Esther-Kay, this beautiful purple little raisin was plopped into my arms. The first thing you learn as a parent is to enjoy that first moment, the surreal experience of love in its purest form. That night in the hospital I couldn’t help but wake her to check if she was still breathing, still alive, and, to this day, I still do. If only I had known what was really in store for our future, learning to be a mother and parent at a young age, because by this time so much has changed already.
The Day Luna was Born
At the end of my first year in college I was working thirty-nine hours, getting my soul sucked out at a dead-end job, and selling chicken to rude customers in WingStop. I was also attending classes at Crafton Hills and, at the time, I stacked my course load to thirteen and a half units. Towards the end I was exhausted, mentally and physically, and when I became homeless I wanted to give up on even wanting to try any further causing me to quit my job, and I stopped going to class, which later put me in hot water with Financial Aid. I took up work on a ranch where, to my surprise, I became pregnant. The last two years since has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions and experiences, having to learn to be a parent, a mom, to an overly upset little human being.
It wasn’t until I had Luna in my arms our second night, my mom struggling to figure out how to attach the car seat, that I tasted the first hints of motherhood. Luna cried inconsolably the whole ride home from the hospital. Completely drained we arrived, only to have her go into a second fit of screams. Tears in my eyes I looked at my mom mustering the words, “mom, what- what do I do she won’t stop crying?” She responded with complete sympathy in her eyes, “She’s probably just hungry.” Even though I fed Luna before the ride home, she was starving by the time we arrived and later that night she provided even more of a challenge, as I woke every hour to her screaming. I would feed, change her diaper, put her back down and as I slowly drifted to sleep, she would wake again. It’s hard to say if I developed mother instincts where I could sense if she was waking up, or that I felt her movements and stirring in the night but, eventually, with time, I got so skilled at being in tune with her, that I would wake and feed her before she even began crying.
Luna smiling because she distracted mommy from her homework
I was on my last leg of sanity, sleep depravity wise by the sixth month because at this point, for one hundred eighty days, I had received no longer than three hours of sleep within a single stretch of time. I thought perhaps I was developing permanent brain damage, and maybe I still do. Luckily around two months, having little reward for my nightly efforts, as I snuggled my nose into Luna’s cheeks, she cracked a smile. Which was a far cry from her odd occasional cross-eyed incidents, having me run to my mom in fear that I did something wrong. Now, little by little, my little one was becoming a human being. I had a lot of help from my mom’s wisdom, she taught me how to ask for help. Eventually, with time, she was sleeping through the night, in her own crib, all it took was for me to get her in her own bed. With that my sanity came back as I finally got a full nights sleep as well.
An even bigger accomplishment she made was when she started to walk and crawl. At two months she was army crawling -crawling without the use of the legs- and at eleven months she was walking. She clearly did not want to stay in one place, and I had to learn this very early on, as she showed curiosity towards all things, to observe all sounds and actions. Her adventurous personality shows to this day as she runs to anything of interest, making it very difficult to keep her safe. Somehow, she can find the oddest things to put in her mouth, even when I’ve cleaned the whole house. In our small garden there’s a chive plant, and it’s her kryptonite. She tears down the long flimsy stalks and chews away. Her skills continue to progress as she mastered coordinated crawling and, later walking, a new adventure unfolded for me and her as we began to try solid foods, which helped establish her independence. She needed me less, which opened me up to do other things while she was eating in the highchair.
Luna’s First Birthday
Often, I sincerely believe my daughter has inherited my picky eating and tastes. When Luna first started trying solids, she was fairly easy to tend to, she’d simply eat anything you put in her mouth! Unfortunately, by some reason, or another, she grew to throw tantrums about the kind of foods I’d give her. Specifically, she didn’t want to be fed with utensils, she wanted to feed herself by hand, and that was that. She was an independent baby and had no time to wait for you to feed her with a spoon. She’d truly get angry if she couldn’t eat her baby Cheetos, bread and fruit by herself. You should see it; if a spoon comes near her, “she fiercely shakes her head” pushing to squirm out of the highchair. Although, now I’ve learned that all she wanted was to feed herself. Slowly things have gotten easier, because of her growing independence.She’s able to learn and be disciplined because all her needs have been met. In psychology they call this a child’s emotional tank. “By speaking your child’s own love language” -there are five- “he is much easier to discipline and train…” (Chapman and Campbell 17) I think, perhaps this is why things are easier because all her needs are constantly being met. Also, her daycare helps but with that, the difficult vice is not spending time with her as much.
When Luna turned nine months old, I finally received the phone call from our local daycare center informing me of an opening. Soon I toured the center, the excitement in my chest rose as I observed the activities and amount of attention she would be receiving. I was so grateful for this help, for I was in desperate need by this point. Daycare allowed me to have a break to do other productive things like laundry, dishes and going to the store without having to lug Luna around in a heavy car seat. Luna had also turned into a grumpy, destructive, curious little shit monster, getting into everything she wasn’t supposed to. Daycare seemed to settle her curiosity enough. Despite the difficulties I still find myself feeling jealous and resentful towards her teachers, because she has bonded with them more, especially since I started working again.
Luna’s First Paining in Daycare
I was utterly surprised when one morning I awoke to a text that read: “Hey Melissa. How’s it going, girl? I know you never thought you would hear from me again. But. Hi, I need to ask a question.” It was from my old WingStop manager. I was taken aback but happily curious as to why she was contacting me. I wrote back that the Lord works in mysterious ways, she told me that they were hiring at the place she worked. Well, to be perfectly honest I wasn’t really, at this point in time looking for work because I had signed up for summer and fall classes. Because of my past I was afraid to put myself in a situation that was too much to handle. Regardless of that fear I responded that I was interested. One week later I was working as a hostess/busser the hours long and exhausting. Especially as it just took more time from my daughter. Things were only going to become harsher when summer classes started.
School, in itself, has never been particularly difficult for me. It’s the sitting on your ass for hours on end listening to a professor excitedly talk about the most –to them- amazing, but truly boring subject. Then I come home to do more homework as my daughter begs for my attention, tearing my work, crumbling it in her sweet chubby hands. I’ve had to change where and when I do my homework to try to work around spending time with Luna. It’s hard to be a parent while trying to get your life together. But I remind myself that I’m doing this so I can provide for her in the future.
All the moments my daughter has gifted me in the last year have truly made me grow and mature into the person I’m content on being. In the last year, learning how to feed, teach, care for a child all while going back to school and work has been difficult and my attention has been on work and school so that possibly later my attention can solely be on my daughter I’m still learning on how to be a mother every step of the way. It’s truly been a journey and I can’t wait for more to learn.
Campbell, Ross Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages of Children. Chicago, Moody Press, 1997.