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The Most Surprising Thing About Being a New Parent

By Charlene O'Hanlon

Becoming a parent is equal parts joy, worry, exhaustion and fulfillment. The idea of being responsible for another person can be nerve-wracking, yet knowing you are that other person's whole life is simply fantastic. You know the phrase, "My heart overflows"? That's the feeling.

I became pregnant with my first when I was in my early 30s, well after both my sisters (one older, one younger) had their first (and only) child. Everyone was surprised at the news - apparently the entire family believed I was too focused on my career to consider having a child. And to have one in my 30s rather than in my 20s as my sisters did ... well, that was beyond the realm of possibility for them.

"I don't see you as a mom," my older sister told me in her matter-of-fact way. She wasn't being mean or trying to hurt my feelings; she was just telling me what she thought. But she did plant a seed of doubt in me: Was I "mom" material? Had I waited too long to have a child? Would I be any good at it?

I don't know whether my doubts were any more intense than the doubts of other parents to be, but I got through those nine months with those same questions nagging in the back of my head. I honestly had no idea whether I'd be a good mom, whether I'd know what to do or how I would be able to deal with having someone else be completely dependent on me (and my husband, of course). Luckily, I had a "normal" pregnancy with no health issues, which gave me some amount of comfort.

Finally, one day before his due date, our firstborn decided to make his entrance into the world. Labor was fast and furious - too quick for me to receive an epidural - but otherwise without incident. And six hours after I stepped into the hospital, I was presented with a red-faced, brown-haired, serene baby boy.

At that moment, every doubt I had about being a mother disappeared. And I said to myself, "Yeah, I got this."

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