Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thoughts on Motherhood

II. It gets better

Giving birth was the easy part. 

As we struggled to strap our daughter into the car seat for the first time, I started feeling creeping twinges of panic.

Going home.

Why are the nurses just letting us walk out the door with her? Shouldn't at least one of them be coming with us to supervise?

I climbed into the backseat and didn't take my eyes off her.

Everyone who has ever been a parent offers the same bit of advice to first-timers: three little words that seem to encompass every anxiety you are experiencing.

"It gets better."

I couldn't sleep for the first 3 or 4 days. It was all a crazy hormone-induced frenzy of clumsy diaper changes, shocking postpartum bleeding, and trying to maintain my previous level of house cleanliness (impossible, I soon realized.)

Luckily my mother was there to assure me that my crying spells were perfectly normal and to do constant loads of laundry.

As my milk came in, my husband was wide-eyed with delight at my newly engorged boobs. But he seemed to lose interest the first time I showed him how they now leaked milk and required pads.

Night after night I sat awake with my spine curved painfully over her. She cooed and she cried, and I was covered in spit up. Covered in milk. Covered in tears.

Feeding schedule and the 4 a.m. look.

It gets better.

I kept thinking of the scene in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" where they use sleep deprivation as a method of torture. 

I watch Richard yawn (after getting 6 hours of sleep) and feel uncalled-for anger and jealousy. I yawned even bigger to make it clear who wins this contest. 

I found myself Googling "How long lack of sleep insane?"

Even at four in the morning, covered in all manner of bodily fluids, I still gazed down at her little face and felt joy. It was a tired form of joy -- but still, joy.

It gets better. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thoughts on Motherhood

 I.The transition

I put on mascara before leaving for the hospital.
It was a scheduled induction, so I had time to prepare.
My thought was, "There will be lots of picture taking, so I want to look somewhat presentable."
I skipped my usual regimen of concealer, powder, blush, eyeliner and lip gloss because, hey, I was giving birth after all. 

By the time the nurses were on the third IV attempt, that mascara had been smeared all over my face with tears. I should have known better.

Labor was scary and painful - there's no other way to describe it. But it was over.

There were complications at the end and her cord was wrapped around her neck, so I didn't get to hold her right away. I remember leaning back in the bed …exhausted… but not able to look away from the squirming, screaming red baby on the examination table. 

She was perfect. 

Looking back 4 weeks on, putting on that mascara at 6:30 a.m. was my last act of my old life. Every other action in my previous 32 years has been entirely my own, for my own benefit.

Since that moment she arrived and was placed in my arms, I forgot myself. 

Every selfish thought, every worry, every jealousy or feeling of inadequacy took a backseat: I was transformed. The violent, physical act of her leaving my body was a rebirth for myself -- I was no longer just a woman, I became a mother.