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The Moment I Saw You

The Moment I Saw You

By Amalah

Someone gave me a lullaby CD at my first baby shower — Nicolette Larson’s Sleep Baby Sleep — with the promise that it was audio baby Valium, guaranteed to settle any fussy baby right down. It sat in the shrinkwrap for a few months because we were high-minded music snobs who only played stuff like Johnny Cash and the Beatles for our little musical genius, but while packing for our first substantial road trip with Noah I impulsively grabbed it *just in case.*

A couple hours into the drive we popped that sucker in and BAM. My three-month-old looked at me like, “Are you hearing that voice? THIS is why I howl when YOU sing. I HAVE STANDARDS.” And promptly stopped crying and dozed off.

(If you’ve never heard of Nicolette Larson, allow me to give a thumbs up to this sweet little album, but with the warning to never, EVER look her up on Wikipedia while listening to one of the more sentimental tracks written to her own baby, because your heart will shatter into a bajillion pieces. Oh, God.)

Anyway. I bring this up mostly because of final track is a song called The Moment I Saw You. It’s a duet with Graham Nash and goes something like this:

The moment I saw you
I wanted to hold you.
And keep you warm
on a cold gray morn.
The moment I held you
I wanted to kiss you.
And welcome you here
on the day you were born.

This song destroys me EVERY TIME I HEAR IT, including one memorable car ride home, when Noah was already asleep and thus I could really have turned it off but instead I kept listening to it over and over again while tears rolled down my face because in my head I could see the beautiful montage video I could make with it, with my still-longed-for second baby meeting Noah for the first time and WHY WASN’T I PREGNANT YET WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

(Spoiler alert: I was soooooo totally pregnant.)

I remember that moment so clearly — that first glimpse of your baby, the first time you hold them, kiss them, smell them, nurse them. Neither first look was what I hoped for, as I wanted the naked slimy dumped-on-my-chest moment of victory but instead only saw them while strapped to an operating table, after they were swaddled and behatted. I remember I running my fingers under the hat to peek at their matted hair, boggling at how big Noah was and how small Ezra was, ugly crying as I kissed them, my body feeling completely destroyed from the surgery yet the instinct to start mothering my child coursing through my numbed extremities.

My friend once confessed to me that she wasn’t sure she even liked her baby for the first couple days, even after having her picture-perfect natural birth. I went to visit her in the hospital after her second baby was born and she expressed her immense relief that she felt “the right way” this time, with the immediate rush of motherly love. She’d been beating herself up for years over that initial reaction, which she thought was “wrong” because everybody else would only talk about how it was the greatest day, the most wonderful thing.

I remember thinking breastfeeding was bizarre the first time with Noah, some trepidation (and even a little embarrassment for some reason) over his 10-pound size, some guilt over my conflicting feelings about having a boy. I remember cradling his foot in my hand for a photo and being shocked at how much bigger it was than any newborn’s foot I had ever seen. I remember a nurse instructing me in skin-to-skin contact and giving me the okay to just keep him in bed with me as much as I wanted and only then do I remember falling in love, violently, because oh! Hello! I’ve wanted you for SO LONG.

I remember thinking that breastfeeding was different from the start with Ezra, how much I missed it and how good he seemed to be at it. I remember wanted to talk about anything other than his size, the reality that my c-section was unnecessary and not what I had pictured. I remember worrying that he was not as cute of a newborn as Noah and feeling awful for even thinking that. I remember wondering why Ezra’s eyebrows went all the way to his hairline and if they would stay that way. I remember missing Noah but being exhausted by him and horrified by how big he looked and wanting him to go away after awhile. I remember being alone with Ezra and unwrapping him and undoing my gown and curling up with him close to me and seeing him open his eyes for the first time and falling in love again, so deeply that I gasped, because oh! Hello! I’ve wanted you for SO LONG.

It’s an overwhelming moment where your entire life changes forever…but also so simple. Kiss. Hold. Warmth. Marvel.

Today’s writing challenge: Your turn. Describe what that moment was like, for you. Go!

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Photo by jamesbrandon

If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Laurie
Guest
Laurie

I remember being in such shock from the labor, the we’re concerned that his heartbeat slows every time you push here’s the internal fetal monitor you didn’t want and an IV and an oxygen mask and don’t mind those NICU nurses setting up shop over there, the look in my husband’s eyes as he told me everything was fine and it wasn’t, the unannounced episiotomy with no anesthesia, the unsuccessful vacuum extraction, the finally successful forceps delivery, the whisked away baby and then being told everything was fine.
And then that little face…

Ashley F
Guest

I felt really lucky because I really felt like I had the best birth experience… and then I had Drew and it was like, omg, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. And then I would look at him and cry, all the time (whoa hormones). I just remember looking at the slimy little (big) thing on my chest and thinking… ooooh boy… I’m in SO MUCH TROUBLE… I just couldn’t believe that the little monster who had been beating the CRAP out of me for a few weeks (he was insanely active the last few weeks of my pregnancy) was finally… Read more »

Lindsay
Guest
Lindsay

Amalah, I’ve always thought no one could put into words what that first moment is like, but I think you’ve done it! Like you, meeting Gavin wasn’t the naked, gooey, plopped-on-my-chest moment I’d hoped for because of a c-section. Still, I remember hearing his first cry, and feeling my heart grow more than I knew it could. When they handed him to me, I couldn’t stop kissing him, and didn’t realize I was sobbing until my doctor asked if I was okay (apparently my sobs were preventing her from sewing me up!). And oh! the first time he nursed… everything… Read more »

Kayleigh
Guest

You seriously have me crying in my cubicle over here, Amy. That was beautiful. Hubby and I are waiting to get pregnant until we can buy a house (a couple of years from now), but you are really not making it easy!

Cheryl S.
Guest
Cheryl S.

I fell in love with my daughter the day I met her because I had wanted her so badly, but then, I was overtaken by absolutely hellish and frightening PPD for quite a while. I remember one day when she was about 3 months old hearing the song “God only Knows” by the Beach Boys. Suddenly, I was weeping uncontrollably, and apologizing to my sweet, wonderful baby because mommy was so so sick in the beginning. I HATE PPD for taking that feeling away from me for 3 months. I may not always love you But long as there are… Read more »

Kayleigh
Guest

You’re seriously making me cry right here in my cubicle, Amy. That was so beautiful! Hubby and I are waiting (impatiently) to conceive until after we buy a house. You’re not making it any easier on me!

Meghan
Guest

The first week of my daughter’s life was just a whirl of adrenaline for me. Like the kind of rush you get when you start dating someone and you instantly click with them and you just talk and talk for hours about nothing and everything, and even if you stay up all night you feel really jazzed and excited and not tired at all. THAT is how I felt. It wasn’t this rush of pure love, it was more of a rush of pure excitement — I was just thrilled to be there with her and to meet this tiny… Read more »

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

Zoey took forever coming out and was eventually vacuumed and then they dumped her on my chest and I didn’t know what to do. She was so little and I had no experience with brand new babies, I wasn’t prepared. I think I tried to pick her up a little but she was so wet but not like covered in goop like I was convinced she would be. They took her and put her on the table to do the tests and I watched my husband over there with her taking pictures for me and tickling her feet. Right then… Read more »

Maureen
Guest
Maureen

What I remember about the moment I saw both of my children was how quiet they got the first time they heard my voice and how gently and knowingly they looked at me. They knew me exactly who I was and what I meant to them. It was as if I was instantly Mama and yet had been so for months.

Nel
Guest

I haven’t had this moment yet, but I am pregnant right now and just started bawling hysterically. I have a huge fear of not having the “appropriate” feeling when my baby gets here and you just made me feel so much better.
Thank you for this…it is perfect.

paranoid
Guest

I remember meeting M for the first time and feeling a little bit shocked. I mean yes, I knew I was going to have a baby, but then suddenly she was THERE. She cried, and it hit me that we had this person now, and she belonged to us. I was fascinated at how she looked around her so calmly, just taking in this bright new world. And I remember looking at The Boy holding his daughter, and realizing how he was a natural daddy. It was a very sweet, calm moment. And holding her, when I was finally allowed… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

I was so worn out after 30 hrs of hard back labor and 3 hours of pushing so much of those first moments are hazy. I heard her before I saw her (c-section), and I started sobbing. Then it all happened so fast. The nurse told me she was okay, but her knee was bending the wrong way. Then she showed me the knee!!! Then she had a hat on and my husband was tearing open his scrubs to get her skin-to-skin while I was being sewn up. Then, finally I was wheeled to recovery and my baby was handed… Read more »

Mouse
Guest

Thank you for this. My second son will be making his way into the world in the next month, and I needed this reminder. With my first son, I remember the end of delivery and how he started to go into distress and my OB was cussing people out because they couldn’t find the forceps. And then he was whisked away and worked on for 90 seconds before he made a noise, the longest 90 seconds ever, though it distracted me from being sewn up as the epidural wore off. When the nurse brought him to me, he was grunting,… Read more »

Roberta
Guest

Oh. Teary. Over everyone’s memories and mine. I was on track for a great natural birth, with a relatively short labor, lying in the birthing tub at a birth center, pushing, anticipating…when everyone realized my baby had flipped herself into a breech position sometime during labor after being in perfect, head-down position for weeks, and wasn’t coming out that way. Ambulance. Hospital. Horrified by unwanted, but necessary C-section. I was numb, so numb, strapped down, and after all this rough athletic wrestling of my body, there was a cry, louder than I could have thought possible. But she was all… Read more »

Cheryl
Guest

Oh my goodness, in my utterly exhausted state, I barely remember that first moment when they placed him on my chest. The nurse asked me if I wanted to hold him before they whisked him away to be cleaned up, and I remember thinking, “Well of course I do! I just spent 15 hours ejecting him from my body!” I do remember looking at him with this amazement at what my body had just done, but the overwhelming love and perfectness of it all didn’t happen until later on that night, when my husband and I were finally alone with… Read more »

Lindsey
Guest

This is so lovely … it makes me think about the fact that my daughter, now seven, has been listening ot the same CD EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since she was born … I swear in 50 years I will be walking (ok, wheeling) somewhere and will hear that acoustic “blackbird singing in the dead OF night ..” and will just be right back there. there, here. yikes. Music does it!

rockle
Guest

My daughter is adopted, and when we met her she was already almost a year old, but I have pictures of that very first time we saw her. I remember thinking, “What if this isn’t right? What if she is scared of us? What if she cries? What if she never loves us?” And then I remember getting her in my arms, and I remember … terrible possessiveness. Separation anxiety. Never, ever wanting to let her go. I felt like I grew a million years older, right there in that other family’s living room, afraid I was going to collapse… Read more »

Edith
Guest
Edith

I am older than you all are, by far. My oldest son, God love him, he was a problem from the minute I concieved. I was in the hospital very ill for nearly 3 weeks before the doctor decided to deliver him. At the last minute, my son’s oxygen level dropped. I was just a kid, myself at that time, 19 year old and stupid. But the look on the doctor’s face told me that there was a problem. The doctor tells me that we may “lose” my son. I remember thinking, “we can’t lose him! I love him so… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest

Beautifully written. My first moments with my daughter were frightening and confusing. After 4.5 hours of pushing, epidural halfway through that, threats of a c-section, fatigue, craziness, vacuums, nurses looking through instruction manuals for heart rate monitors, she finally came out and I couldn’t believe it. Then I saw her. She was grey, blue, lifeless and limp. They took her away before I got to see her up close, and I watched from my still gaping and oozing position on the bed, as they worked on her, willing her to breathe. After 10 minutes or so, she slowly turned pink… Read more »

Jo
Guest

My sweet baby arrived 7 weeks ago yesterday. We had a water birth, making my labor (especially the pushing stage) a lot more comfortable. I started pushing and at one point my amazing midwife told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head since it was beginning to crown. Totally thrilling moment, feeling the tiny hairs and knowing that was MY baby. That was first time in my entire pregnancy that everything seemed real. Even though we didn’t know the sex of the baby, how big it would be, what color eyes it would have…there it was, really coming,… Read more »

Alison
Guest
Alison

I remember the first night we brought our daughter home. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I just kept staring at her in her bassinet at the foot of our bed, not believing she was really mine.
Thank you everyone for sharing such beautiful memories.

Peter
Guest
Peter

I remember standing at my wife’s head, torn between my desire to look into her eyes and to look at what was going on with the C-section. I remember being given strict orders to do the latter and keep her up to date on the rummaging 🙂 I remember being overjoyed, I remember being sad that the pregnancy was over. No more kissing the bump, no more shared giggles over the Alien eating its way out. No more Buster – for better or for worse it was time for him to bear his true name and breathe this world’s air.… Read more »

MichelleRenee
Guest

O my. Brings back so many memories.
I firmly believe it is those moments of primal love that keep children from being booted from the nest when they turn 15.
Thank you so much for that good cry,
I needed it.

Amalah
Guest

SOBBING NOW.
And it’s not pretty.
Gorgeous comments, you guys. Y’all are writing circles around me and I love it.

Heather
Guest
Heather

This posting comes at a perfect time as I moved my little guy (Griffin) into his crib this past weekend. He is 5 months old and the time is going by way to fast. He is happy sleeping in his own room, and I miss him terribly. When I met Griffin for the first time it was as close to perfect as I could have hoped for. We had a fast and furious labor and delivery – 6 hours from first contraction to delivery. It was hard, harder than I could have imagined. I pushed for 3 hours seriously thinking… Read more »

HereWeGoAJen
Guest

I was so in the zone and pushing so hard that I didn’t even notice that she had been born. The doctor was shouting at me to “reach down! reach down!” and when I finally focused, I pulled her up on to my chest. And I cried and cried and told her that I had been waiting for her so long. And when they took her away to measure and weigh and poke and prod, I wouldn’t let go and they had to pull her away from me.

Erin
Guest

My first thought when I saw my son was, “Whose child is that?” I didn’t think he looked like us at ALL, and while he does more now, he was born looking like a very attractive angry bulldog. He was big, his head was round (which is all I heard for weeks after, how round his head was) and he screamed a lot. He also wasn’t breathing right. I don’t even really remember holding him, because they took him away so fast to get him hooked up to breathing machines. I remember feeling triumphant at having had him so easily… Read more »

AmyDoubleYou
Guest

After my semi-emergency C-section (baby wasn’t in trouble yet but it was heading that way) I felt disappointed that I hadn’t gotten to push at all, or to see him come out, that the blue curtain blocked that first disgustingly beautiful bloody moment. They brought him around to me after a minute and I cried, he was beautiful, so much hair. They had to take him away to check his lungs then because he was squeaking and I was sewn up and didn’t see him again until my husband came back to the birthing room with him after 20 minutes… Read more »

Megan
Guest

I had been pushing for over two hours, unmedicated, at the birth center with only my husband, my widwife, and a nurse with me. I was so beyond ready to have her out of me but at the same time, I was so scared to actually push her out. I’d heard about the Ring of Fire and I knew that it was going to hurt a lot worse before it got better, but when my midwife threatened to take me to the hospital if I didn’t have her out in the next 30 minutes, I made myself do it. She… Read more »

CLE
Guest
CLE

That moment didn’t happen for me until two days after she was taken from me. After 18 hours of excruciating non-labor abdominal pain, they decided to do an emergency c-section at 36 weeks and see what happened. General anesthesia. While her life started, I fought for mine with a perforated bowel and a severe abdominal infection. My second day in ICU, they arranged with the NICU to see my perfectly healthy baby with some feeding issues. They wheeled my bed, with all the tubes and monitors up to the NICU. I had a high fever, a morphine pump, 3 IVs… Read more »

Kari Weber
Guest
Kari Weber

I must say… one should NOT read these comments when one is feeling a bit moodish. No one should NOT. Because then the tears start, and that is just awkward. Loved the story Amy. Always do. I must say… however. The story that got me the most? Peter. Holy Cow. To hear it from the perspective of the father… it just makes that moment even more wonderful. My husband is not as wordish, and would have a hard time putting it into something to read. But your description was beautiful. He, and your wife, are lucky to have one so… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

After 24 hours of labor, and no progress past 4 cm (I spent nearly 20 hours at 4), I had the c-section I had desperately not wanted to have. I remember everything. The absolute terror while waiting almost 3 hours (yes, 3…My Girl was handling labor like a champ, so there was no emergency) for my c-section. Hearing My Girl cry, seeing my husband cry as he beheld his daughter, hearing my mother describe her first grandchild to me from across the room. I cried when I heard My Girl, but I think at that point it was only relief… Read more »

Ms. K
Guest
Ms. K

Everyone’s stories are so beautiful, and heart-rending. Love happens differently for everyone. I’m more like Amalah’s friend who had the perfect natural birth but became attached to her child only slowly…it took me a while. No PPD or anything, just…it took a while. I became pregnant unexpectedly. And I was really career-oriented that whole nine months, determined that my pregnancy would have zero impact on my work performance. The baby decided to come three weeks before the due date. I was in complete denial about my labor. This might have affected my attachment to the baby. It wasn’t until I… Read more »

Paula
Guest
Paula

I can still remember the uncontrollable gasp and cry as soon as I heard my son cry. As if a piece of my heart and soul leapt out of my chest and went straight to him. I didn’t get to hold him right away like I wanted but I was so happy he had arrived it felt so wonderful. It had been a long two days of delivery but every second was worth it. It took me a few months to really feel the true love everyone else describes but I feel it now for sure. I would do anything… Read more »

Ginger
Guest

My experience wasn’t the all enveloping emotional crush I was expecting. I ended up with a c-section, and so didn’t get to see my little man being born–it was all a little surreal honestly. I was noticing all these little details about the operating room, and procedures, but felt a little removed from the process. I cried when I first heard him cry, and when I saw my husband’s look of pure joy (he could see him over the curtain). But then I was getting stitched up, and trying not to throw up, and my husband went with the baby… Read more »

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

Wow, should not have read these while at work…. With my daughter I had over 24 hours of labor and 5 hours of pushing before she came out with the aid of an episiotomy and vacuum and at the end of it…I was just relieved that it was over. But they put her on my chest and I just stared at her. All 9 lbs, 7 oz and 22.75 inches of her in disbelief that this tiny, gooey, red, screaming person was mine. Then I kissed her little head and whispered, “I love you Noelle; I’m your Mommy”. But the… Read more »

Karen
Guest

I remember wanting him out more anything in the world. I remember fighting for the vaginal delivery and then the guilt over the shoulder displacia and the idea I caused him harm before he was even born. I remember loving him from the moment he was plopped on top of me and crying, the tears came right away. He was beautiful but I was being stiched up and no pain med and I was crying again for another reason. They took him and medicated me too much. I passed out for hours and was so angry when I awoke. I… Read more »

Karen
Guest

I just poured my heart out and the post was lost because “too many posted at once.”
Oh – how awful!

jodifur
Guest

when Michael was born, I thought he was dead. See, his heart rate dropped during labor and he was born with the cord around his neck, and when they put him on my stomach he was gray and didn’t move. And for that split second, I thought he was dead. Now, looking back I realize that they would not have put him on my stomach if he was in fact dead, but I really honestly did not think he was alive. And I wouldn’t touch him. The nurses must have thought I was the coldest person. And finally, the nurse… Read more »

Jennifer B
Guest
Jennifer B

My baby is fourteen years old now, but I still remember the day she was born. After a not so perfect labor and delivery when they put her in my arms, my first thought was “This rush is better than any you might get from doing drugs.” Funny.

Erin @ Fierce Beagle
Guest

My labor was forced (I was induced at 37 weeks) and after 26 hours he was born. I was exhausted and drugged, in and out of consciousness, but I remember them taking him and calling a NICU nurse because his apgar score was 4. They stopped my bleeding and got him crying and finally I was able to hold him before passing out again. As they wheeled me to my room, past the nursery, I pressed my hand against the glass and asked which one he was. Later that night, after they brought him into my room, I lay with… Read more »

wallydraigle
Guest

I had my daughter via emergency C-section. Not a true emergency–we weren’t in danger–, but unscheduled, like, “Oops, your baby is enormous, and you are tiny, and also, she is facing the wrong way, and her giant head is causing you to have no more progress.” Not what I wanted, and there’s still lingering disappointment, but at the same time I’m very grateful for modern medicine. Anyway, I didn’t get to see her right away, either. I remember lying there on the table, staring at the ceiling, feeling like I was being eviscerated as my OB finished up the surgery,… Read more »

Lise
Guest
Lise

It took me days to fall in love completely with my first daughter. I was so nervous about caring for her, and the over-officious hospital nurses did not help. We overcame that, and I could not love her more Babies two and three were dream births, unmedicated and at home. As soon as they were plopped onto my abdomen, warm and wiggling and slimey and alive, I was overwhelmed by love for them. My memories of their births and of our first days together are of great peace and love. But my fourth. . . oh God. Born five minutes… Read more »

Beth
Guest

I had an emergency c-section with my Bruno and I had gone from devastated when the decision was made to operate to totally excited when I realized I was FINALLY going to meet my child. He was 10 days late, our induction failed so I was one of those women who thought I’d be pregnant 4 LIIIIFEEE! After he was delivered, I don’t even remember him being showed to me. He was taken over to be cleaned up and weighed and I just watched, completely, like emotionless. I wasn’t sad or anything but I remember waiting to feel something and… Read more »

Amanda
Guest

Well, shoot. Hi, my name is Amanda and I’m a hormonal emotional pregnant wreck. Had my 20-week ultrasound this morning on baby numero dos this morning, and now this? I was one of those ones that had the textbook, no complications birth experience and then when the baby was born and her oooky naked baby self was slapped up on my chest while I tried to ignore the horrific quivering pain in my nethers (3rd degree tears without any pain meds will do that to you), well of course I loved her but I mostly didn’t feel like she was… Read more »

Sara
Guest

I will confess that I didn’t have those ooey-gooey feelings when my first daughter was just born. I was elated, yes. But did I LOVE her with every cell of my being like I do today, four years later? No. That took about a week. Which I think is pretty normal. I had a very normal vaginal delivery, so she was with me very quickly, but it still took a little while to looooooove her. My #2 daughter? Loved her right from the start. Simple reason–I KNEW then what she would become. I KNEW that she would turn from this… Read more »

heels
Guest

With my son, I remember intense incredulity. In fact, the first thing I said when he was laid on my belly (the cord was too short to reach my chest) was “No way.” I repeated it over and over until the midwife said “Yes way!” I remember feeling immensely protective, but not feeling the kind of “love” that I expected. It wasn’t until days later, as I nuzzled his belly button after a diaper change, that I realized how much I loved him and knew I always would. With my daughter, I expected to feel similarly, but instead felt that… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I was 29 weeks pregnant when we went into the hospital to find that these “really were” contractions and the incontinence they kept telling me I was having? really was amniotic fluid leaking. We had 42 people in the delivery room. We went to an OR in case we needed to have a c-section. I didn’t know the name of the doctors or nurses. I wasn’t in the hospital I was supposed to be in. I was petrified. But he was born. At 2lbs. Shockingly small. He breathed on his own and after an impossibly long time they brought him… Read more »

Missy
Guest

She was 22 hours old and I was 1,000 miles away from home. Her birthmother was there in the hospital room, still in her gown. Abby was lying in the bassinette, sleeping. Her name wasn’t even Abby yet. I made eye contact with her birthmother, she nodded. I leaned down and picked up the baby, her baby AND my baby now. I told her her name was Abigail Elizabeth, we’d picked it out special and hadn’t told ANYONE yet. Abby opened her eyes and looked at me. She kept them open for an hour during that visit, being passed from… Read more »

Sara R.
Guest

Thank you for this post! I am days (or less) away from going into labor with my second baby, feeling a bit worried about the pain and possibility that things won’t work out the way I want them to, and I needed this reminder of what I’m going through all of this for!