Friday, September 3, 2010

Little Wonders

I sat with my patient, a new mother, in the examination room. She was there for her first post-partum visit and we were discussing the events of the last few weeks. We chatted about breast feeding, birth control, lack of sleep, how annoying it is that men can sleep through *anything*, and then, I asked, as I always do, about how she was handling things emotionally. I always make it a point to screen for post-partum depression, many times, if you don't ask, they will not tell you how they are really feeling. This time, though she passed the screening for depression, she gave a laugh and said, "For the first time, I know why my mother is the way that she is." She went on to elaborate how she always made fun of how emotional her mother is, and now how she couldn't watch Kleenex commercials any more without bawling like a baby. It is so true. When we become parents we are forever changed, not only do we understand our parents better, but the way that we look at the whole world is different.

For me, it was the same. Before I became a mother, I loved to watch scary movies. The scarier the better. Imagine my surprise when, not long after Cindy Lou was born, and Mr. Whoo and I settled in to watch a horror flick when I realized that I had changed. I could not watch it, couldn't even get past the first 30 minutes. Why? Because there was a little girl child in it who was missing, and I couldn't handle thinking of a child (my child) being lost, scared, and alone. I never realized how many horror films use disturbing images of children before having a child of my own. It changed how I watch movies even now, far removed from the emotional lability of the immediate post-partum days. The same holds true for news stories involving children, footage of the 2004 tsunami devastated me, same for Katrina the summer after. The tears flow more freely now, happy, sad, and wistful. Most of all, music speaks to me, and often moves me to tears. There are certain songs I associate with different stages of my children's lives, and find myself tearing up just thinking of the lyrics. For Cindy Lou, it is "Baby Mine" and "Return to Pooh Corner." For Bean it is "Sweet Baby James" and "Little Wonders." Especially these lyrics:

"Our lives are made, in these small hours, these little wonders, these twists and turns of fate.
Time falls away, but these small hours, these small hours still remain."

So now I know how my mother felt when I was younger, when Cindy Lou turns to find me wiping away a happy tear or two and says, "Mommy, if you are happy, then why are you crying?" Perhaps it is because the transformative joy and wonder of having a part in creating these precious lives fills up our hearts until they break, just a little, from the magic of it all. How have your children changed the way you see the world?


***Cross Posted at Ob/Gyn Kenobi***

8 comments:

  1. I still love horror. Ack! I am a bad mother.

    Seriously, the kids made me much more efficient with my time. In order to stay plugged into them when I was with them, and get done what I had to do to get through residency, I had to use it a lot differently.

    The oldest of four, my mom was scared for me to be a mother. I was not very helpful to her - always had my nose in a book or my head in the clouds. I wasn't very happy about caring for my brothers that were 7 and 11 years younger than me.

    It's different when they are your own. I actually shock myself over how fiercely I care for and protect them. The intensity of my feelings around their day to day challenges and experiences blows me away sometimes.

    How I see the world? Hmmm. One thing's for sure, it's a big place and I can't wait to go exploring with my kids.

    I remember crying post-partum with my first - Sicily. I remember the commercial - it was a crowd of people and I wondered how in God's name every single one of them were created and raised because it was such an incredibly tough thing to do (at the time I was struggling with breastfeeding but got it after 3-4 weeks). I cried with the amazement and wonder that this many people existed on the planet. I thought med school was a breeze compared to dealing with a newborn! Maybe that was a little depression:)

    This is beautiful, Dr. Whoo!

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  2. Loved the post!
    As an m1 with a seven month old, I'm just beginning to appreciate how much having a child has changed me. I agree that I am daily surprised at how much I love my son. I look at everyone differently, and I think it's for two reasons: I now view everyone as being someone's baby. I think "there was probably someone who loved them like I do g, and if not, then that's all the more reason to be kind to them". And also, bc I want him to be a loving person. I want to model that love for him, so I find myself being gentler and more compassionate.
    I also cry on commercials.

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  3. Thanks for this post. I felt like abag of hormones when I went to see Miss Saigon. I was nonstop crying after I saw that the main character Kim had a little boy who reminded me exactly of my little boy. What made it worse was that she sacrificed her life so that he could have a better life. I was a mess. When the lights came on I was still emotional.
    I do not ever remember being this emotional before but now whenever I see shows with little children in it, I can't help but think of my own. I think it's okay, just a little embarrassing that I can't seem to control my emotions on Broadway ;)

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  4. As always, beautifully written.

    I'm a bit odd, I guess, because I gravitate toward the stories of missing children, or stories of abused children, or stories of murdered children. I think it's because I want to be able to tell myself that that won't happen to my kids, that I will keep them safe from harm, that it happens to other people but not my family.

    Interesting how I can force myself to believe this, though a little part of me is scared. Very, very scared...all the time.

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  5. Kellie (general surgeon)September 7, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Stories regarding children who have died, are killed by parents, accidents or maimed really hit me, but I feel this NEED to read them. Especially teh children killed by parents. I cannot fathom how a parent could murder their child. It is completely beyond my comprehension.

    I've always been an "easy cryer" so I'm not sure that has changed.

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  6. I remember after having my first son, bawling while watching Curious George! George was so adorable and he got lost, and it just made me think of my own son and how amazing it was to have him.

    I think the main thing that has happened with having kids has been a change in my priorities. They are (almost) always #1. I don't know that the way I see the world has changed a whole lot, but I do want to make sure I give them as good of an upbringing as I can, which often means a tremendously challenging balancing act of life.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

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