As I write this I’m sitting on the couch with baby Emily asleep on my lap. She’s tucked her hand into my shirt so she can hold her favorite milky source. I can feel her warm little tummy pressed against mine, expanding with her soft breaths. My heart is so full of love for this precious girl that sometimes I just cry happy tears.
Becoming a mom has brought me to my edges while teaching me how to give and connect more deeply than I ever have before.
The night she was born, I slept with her lying on top of me because she wouldn’t settle in her bassinet. She had just come out of my body and she wanted to stay close. I was exhausted from three days of labor with very little sleep, followed by a cesarean section. I had just been cut open and I was totally woozy from pain medications. I was also floating from the incredible experience of meeting my daughter for the first time, so it felt lovely to hold her against me.
On a side note, I had a catheter in from the surgery, so I never had to get up to go pee that night. It was awesome. I only half slept, opening my eyes every hour to make sure my baby was still breathing. She’s so perfect…I was (and still am) in awe that she came to me and from me.
My transformation into motherhood has been a duality of extremes.
It’s painful. My body hurts every day. Bringing her into this world, I went through sharp early labor contractions for fifty hours before I finally got an epidural. Then I had to recover from major abdominal surgery which made it hurt to roll over and get out of bed…but I tolerated it and did what I needed to care for my baby. My nipples became raw and breastfeeding was excruciating for the first month. I would curl my toes to bear it many times a day. My back is sore from lifting and holding my extra large baby…who at only two months is actually the size of a five month old. And don’t even get me started on the sleep deprivation! Oi, it is like a slow form of torture, never being able to get a solid stretch of uninterrupted z’s and continuously being woken up when I’m desperately tired. And let’s sprinkle in some headaches and digestive problems for extra fun!
At the same time, becoming a mom is joyful. When I look at my precious angel, and she stares at me with her big knowing eyes, every difficult moment is worth it. My self-involved worries and stresses melt away when I’m focusing on my baby. I get so many jolts of joy from seeing her smile, it’s bringing me to a whole new level of happiness.
And I know that just living for my baby is going to totally burn me out. I need balance. I need to find myself again in the midst of this new life. About three weeks ago I decided to stop sacrificing my sleep and hired a night nanny. It’s been an immense relief to finally feel rested and clear headed.
I started working out again, stretching my stiff tight muscles in yoga class and boosting my strength at the gym. Slowly I’m getting my body back.
Since the baby was born I have been getting 90 minutes massages every week in my home. I take hot baths every day and relish my alone time in the tub. I’m also getting acupuncture and eating healthy home cooked meals.
I’m blessed to have wonderful assistants who clean my house and cook for me. Five days a week I have help in the afternoons. My husband has been great at taking care of Emily in the evenings when he gets home from work.
My parents have come to help too. And many of my friends have brought dinner for us. I’m so grateful for the support system I have in my life. Thank the Goddess I’m good at asking for and receiving help. Because I couldn’t do this alone without losing my mind and my health.
I’m noticing there’s a strong culture of self-abnegation among moms. They deal with so many challenges and do so much for their families, it’s easy to forget about taking care of themselves. Now I can relate.
There’s a tiny part of me that’s proud of going through physical hell and back to make a baby. It’s a frickin’ miracle what my body did. I deserve a medal for surviving it, and so does every mom on this planet. I love my husband but there is no way he could ever endure the amount of pain I have gone through while mustering the patience to stay up with our baby night after night. Moms are incredible, and through this experience I’ve discovered that I am too.
But now I realize it’s time to let down my pride and stop trying to tough it out. I dip into my savings to hire the help I need. I make time for self care because now I need twice as much as I did before. I’m creating a whole new schedule with more space for sleep, less space for work.
It’s taken a leap in my self-love to prioritize my own well being. The mommy martyr mindset pull is strong…and a lot of my mom friends struggle with it.
I know that I am so much better with my baby when I feel good, when my body is balanced. I can enjoy those precious moments with her even more. Instead of wishing she would go to sleep again, I have the energy to play with her. This morning she woke me up a bit earlier than I would have liked, but I still got seven uninterrupted hours and felt okay. I was quickly rewarded with adorable smiles and gurgles.
So yeah…motherhood is the hardest and most fulfilling experience in the world. And as I trust my intuition more, and relax into the inevitable unpredictability of life with a baby, it gets easier.
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