Sunday, June 5, 2016

Eight Weeks

My baby is eight weeks old today. My sweet, beautiful, chubby baby who wakes up every morning with confused, gummy sleepy baby smiles. We are still getting to know each other but I am, without doubt or reservation, his mother.

It was nearly a month and a half ago when I wrote that things were not easy, when I felt scared about my ability to adjust, when I felt I had been tossed up in the air and had no idea when, where or if I would come back down.

I think I felt compelled to write--beyond my own need for transparency--because I wanted to share that there is no dichotomy in motherhood. I had unconsciously accepted that either you get postpartum depression or you are giddy with joy, that either you love your baby or you don't, that you're a good mother or a bad one. And of course (OF COURSE) that sounds silly, but only when it's brought out into the light. When it lives amidst all the other unexamined truths we hold, it doesn't sound silly at all. I thought if I had allowed those ideas to guide my expectations of becoming a mother, perhaps somebody else had, too.

I've spent a lot of time over the past month and a half trying to figure out how to come back to this space with a tidy conclusion, but I haven't been able to figure out how to do that in a genuine way, probably because I am so far from any kind of conclusion about this transition. I am still so very much in it (though with a different balance of emotions, namely, much more joy and contentment), and probably will be for a very long time.

What I can say is this: I am me again. Although part of me now includes being a mother, that new piece feels as though it's always been here, oddly. It's true what they say about feeling as though you've always known your baby (at least for me--it might not feel that way for you, and that's just as okay as the other).

Here is where I would stop if I wanted to leave this tidy. We are doing wonderfully. This baby is incredible (and of course a genius). We decided that my husband would not take summer classes this season so we are all home together, which is a once-in-a-lifetime situation and something I am so grateful we are able to do, for many reasons. We spend so much of our days mesmerized by the things Bennett does and I am in awe that only two months ago he was living inside me, had not seen anything of the world, and now he is doing amazing things like smiling, holding up his giant head, learning to laugh, to roll over, etc. I have felt the deep ache of missing him when he is asleep only two feet from me. I spend a lot of time with him strapped to me in a baby carrier, only because I need several hours each day where his heavy weight is close to my heart and where his head is close enough that I can bend down to smell it whenever I want.

I think part of what made the beginning difficult (among many things that made it difficult) was that the feeling of falling in love with this baby was not familiar to me as the feeling of falling in love. And of course it isn't, because falling in love with our children might be the only time in our lives where the loving will be forever. When we fall in love with other adults--when we fall in romantic love--while we might hope for permanency, we know we can always step away, perhaps forget that person, try again with somebody new or decide being in love just isn't for us. But I will love this child forever, no matter what, no matter the pain and worry that will come with being his mother, no matter who he turns out to be. So it makes sense that, whereas I am very much in favor of throwing oneself fully into the high of romantic love, this kind of falling in love carries with it a different entrance, though admittedly every day it feels less and less like I have a choice in how I love this child. It is incredible how full and how fragile this feels.

Bennett has grown out of the clothes he wore during his first few weeks of life. His 0-3 month sizes don't fit him anymore. This, more than anything, made me realize I don't have time to overthink any of this unless I want to miss most of it. We are in this together, growing togther, learning together. We are both just in the thick of it and there is no stopping the show to practice or perfect. Somehow I found comfort in the realization that it all changes so quickly, and that we made it out of one stage without me having any idea what I was doing or, probably, being a gold-star mama. That I brought myself to that stage exactly as I was and we still made it. He still saves most of his smiles for me. He still would rather sleep on my chest than anywhere else. He knows only me as his mama, and his trust helps me continue stepping deeper and deeper.

After I shared that the adjustment to motherhood was hard for me, so many other mothers (SO MANY) came to me to say they had felt the same. They struggled with the identity change, with initial uncertainty with their decision, with anxiety, depression, boredom, not always liking their babies, marriage strife, etc. etc. ETC. Seriously. So many things we struggle with. So many more things we will struggle with over the coming years, but so many deep joys, too. All of those feelings are part of the same and dependent on one another. We get to feel deeply only if we aren't picky about which feelings show up when.

I'm not (quite) enough of an egomaniac to believe that me sharing my path will make anyone else perfectly comfortable being in the thick of it. I imagine, no matter what, that if you struggle, you will probably feel lonely and not very good at least part of the time you are in that struggle. But if there's any part of you that can hear this, know you are doing it perfectly. There is no right way. Your relationship to yourself, your child, your spouse, your life is unique. There is no dichotomy, no good or bad. There is only the in-between, there is only the way your are doing it, not the way you should be doing it.

Also, when they say it gets better...it really does. It is beautiful and hard and complicated and wonderful, and sometimes it just feels totally boring and normal, except with a baby, which is its own kind of great.

To all of you who offered wine, walks, love, an ear, your own experience, your support...thank you. I trust I would have landed on my feet anyway, but the community that comes out of honesty and vulnerability is a treasure that never fails to stop me in my tracks.

Before I gave birth, a friend stopped me to share a dream she had before she birthed her first child many years ago. In this dream, she saw a group of women. From the group, one approached her, and with the great power that comes from joining together in truth, she told my friend, "we are with you." At the time, I assumed my friend offered this to me as I prepared to birth my son, but now I realize its scope was never intended to be confined to just one day, but rather for that day and all the days after.

We are with you.

xo

1 comment:

  1. That was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete