Jenna Wolfe: Following the path less traveled on my way to parenthood
As I write, it’s a cozy morning -- grey and chilled outside, sweet and warm inside. I'm sitting on the couch in the living room feeding Harper. My partner, Stephanie Gosk, is in the kitchen making coffee. I'm looking down at this little girl wondering how I got here.
Exactly one year ago this week, Steph was packing up her things in London to move to New York for the proverbial future. Fast forward 12 months (through the big move across the pond and the old apartment sale and the new apartment purchase and the big TODAY announcement and the pregnancy and all the behind the scenes things not appropriate in this blog) and now breathe in this morning's landscape and you have the path to parenthood -- the path less traveled, that is.
There's been nothing conventional about how little Harper came into this world. Yes, biologically speaking, it's been done a million times, but as a chapter in life's Big Book of STUFF, I can't recall this happening to two other working TV moms who spent a year battling logistics, bumping naysayers, and braving morning sickness all at the same time. Despite all the reading we'd done and counsel we sought, despite the advice we were handed and parenting websites we were told to inhale, we weren't prepared for 99 percent of pregnancy and parenthood.
For example, did you know that pregnancy is really 10 months and not 9? (It took me all 10 months to figure that out.) That morning sickness can last almost the entire time for some moms (including Sunday mornings in the middle of a segment you're doing for TODAY)? That back pain and knee pain are two pretty common pregnancy symptoms and that when they strike at the same time, you're rendered useless?
Did you know that an amnio means a needle right into your stomach? (Yes, your stomach.) That you pee every four to six minutes by the end? That your water doesn't break like it dramatically does in the movies? That you can't sleep on your right side or your back or your stomach? That no matter how stoic, how “put-together,” how well-prepared you are for seeing your child, when you lay eyes on her for the very first time, it will be the most intense kind of love you'll every feel? (And, yes: YOU. WILL. CRY.)
And, amazingly, did you know that they let you take her home without an instruction manual? That she'll go through 8,000 diapers in the first month? That you can literally sit and watch her sleep for hours and never get bored? That you can actually feel yourself fall passionately in love with another person just by holding her little body in your arms? That despite keeping you up all night with her stubborn refusal to go to sleep, you'll still adore her in the morning? That you'd do anything in your absolute power to protect her from evil, pain, elements and mean people? That your breasts will get so... OK fine, I'll stop there.
Did you know all or any of that? We certainly didn't. And it has only been a month!
The parent lesson plan is the hardest homework assignment you'll ever get. It'll also be the only one you won't want to wait ‘til Sunday night to tackle.
If someone asked me today what parenthood is all about, I'd have to shrug my shoulders real high, smile real big and hug Harper real tight. I don't know the first thing about parenthood, nor do any other first-time moms and dads. But you get up every day and you feed your child and you change her diaper and you love her unconditionally and everything else will find a way of working out.
And all the bloopers and blunders and big fat mistakes you make along the way become part of that fantastical story you tell her one Hanukkah/Christmas Eve -- when you're all sitting on the couch in the living room when it's grey and chilled outside and sweet and warm inside.