I am sitting in the glider in our bedroom. I am holding my naked-except-for-his-diaper son against my bare chest. He just finished eating and being slowly rocked into a contented slumber. He is perfection and innocence embodied in this gorgeous, creamy skinned little body with the most intense and peaceful eyes I have ever stared into. This is what I have waited for. And it is so good it scares me.
We've been hibernating and healing over here. Letting go of the "shoulds" (I should have....uploaded more pictures by now, sent birth announcements, retuned e-mails/ phone calls, started using our cloth diapers by now....etc..) and learning to live in the moment. And there have been so many that the last few weeks feels like a blur of polaroid photos flashing by me.
We had a long, hard, powerful, unexpected, and at the end a bit scary, labor and birth. I have been processing it like crazy with my husband and my doula and am finally able to relate the details with pride and honesty. And I plan to share more about that here soon (meaning when I have two hands free to type with - it's a long one).
My first week home was a blur of uncontrollable crying jags and suffocating anxiety that made me feel as if I was being held captive in the bottom of a dark pit that I might never return from. I could feel the love for my husband and son but somehow couldn't quite reach it, or them. It was agony. I would sit and hold my newborn to my chest, skin-to-skin, inhaling deeply the scent of his neck - determined to stay connected to him, allowing his scent to pull me up from the pit in small increments measured by my breathing. My husband called in the reinforcements: friends who are mothers, my counselor, our doula. I called Apothecary Tinctura and they quickly whipped up some herbal and homeopathic remedies to nurture and support me. Also, I received my placenta capsules - capsules containing my steamed, dehydrated, and finely ground placenta. I had paid to have these made for this very purpose, to help me to balance my postpartum hormones and emotions a bit easier. Thankfully, after several tearful coversations with friends and my amazing doula, many cups of tea and doses of tinctures, a few days of placenta capsules, and lots of prayer.....something worked. I woke on Monday and something had lifted. So far it has not returned and I have given thanks for every day since, knowing I am far from being out of the woods. But I am learning to live in the moment and to be grateful for each one.
Since Monday, the experience of motherhood has consumed me with all the magic and all the mundaneness. I have had highs....the utter joy of seing my son "smile", the realization that this beautiful incredible boy is the same boy we saw all those months ago, small as a grain of rice on the ultrasound image with the flicker of a heartbeat that is now the pounding heart that I love to hold against my own, the quiet satisfaction and peace as he nurses. I have had some "lows" too....the realization of my now very limited freedom, the anxiety induced over simply trying to figure out how to get a shower or leave the house (I will figure this out right?), the late night irrational anger over hearing my husband snore away while I am up, again.
Love has become so much bigger than how I feel. Love is all about action these days. The action it takes to respond to my son, the active ways I anticipate his needs, the active choice to be with him, to smile - even at 3am, to constantly let him know that he will be cared for, he will be loved - no matter what. Also, the action necessary to reach out and connect with my husband, my partner to love him and ask him to love me in the ways we need right now. And lastly, the action necessary to love myself: brewing a pot of tea, feeding myself, finding time to shower, asking for a break when my husband comes home so I can reboot - and choosing to hibernate and conserve during this season of transition.
Slowly, moment by moment, I am receiving my son's trust in me and learning to trust myself. Slowly, I am letting myself be changed, letting my selfishness and independence be challenged and shaken up, letting myself fall ever more in love, letting myself breathe, letting myself be a mom, a good mom - even when I doubt my own ability.