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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 andfulfillment. The idea of being responsible for another person can benerve-wracking, yet knowing you are that other person's whole life issimply fantastic. You know the phrase, "My heart overflows"? That's thefeeling.

I became pregnant with my first when I was in my early 30s, wellafter both my sisters (one older, one younger) had their first (andonly) child. Everyone was surprised at the news - apparently the entirefamily believed I was too focused on my career to consider having achild. 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 hermatter-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 ofdoubt in me: Was I "mom" material? Had I waited too long to have achild? Would I be any good at it?

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

Finally, one day before his due date, our firstborn decided to makehis entrance into the world. Labor was fast and furious - too quick forme to receive an epidural - but otherwise without incident. And sixhours after I stepped into the hospital, I was presented with ared-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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