I wish I had had the time to write about motherhood these past 7 weeks. The newborn phase rushes by so quickly and I find myself constantly trying to freeze the moments and lock them away in a place I will never forget them. But, it's impossible. There is no camera that can capture the looks my baby blesses upon me, no journal that can hold all my thoughts, no video recorder that can film her doing all the things that make her Emerson. Yet, there is so much to say. And I want to be able to share it with her someday.
I have talked about childbirth being a death (albeit in very unclear terms), but it also awakened me to a more conscious existence than ever before. Labor made me incredibly hyper aware of my surroundings, of myself, of life. And now, I find myself trying to find that same kind of aliveness every day, in order to soak up every bit of my child's life and being. But, it all rushes by in a blur of smiles and coos, poopy diapers and 3 am feedings, cuddles in bed and lullabies sung deep into the night, a bevy of firsts and a mourning of lasts. And then. Then, there are the moments that slow down, that open your heart up to allow tsunami-size waves of love and gratefulness and all things gooey to flow back and forth between you and your babe. Moments where every particle and atom in the room are visible and beautiful and you know you'll remember them forever. Moments that you can't write about, because there aren't words to describe them. Instead they live, impeccably suspended in memory, as small pieces that make up the big love you have for your child.
But, I wish I had been writing the last 7 weeks.
I was able to get quite a bit of writing done in the first weeks of Emmie's life, when I was parked in bed with her all day, and before the exhaustion of motherhood set in. All of that writing was dedicated to chronicling my birth experience before I forgot it (although, the facts were hazy even when written right away). Though the first few weeks were indeed overwhelming, I somehow found *some* time to think. Now, our house is madness. Sometimes it's blissful madness and I don't mind the zillion things left undone and complete lack of time for myself, sometimes it's dizzying madness (with a slight undertone of panic) that leaves me wondering how I will ever brush my teeth before 2:00 pm or answer the phone, ever again.
As crazy as our life has become, the good news is we've been broken in a little bit now. We expect chaos. Those first few weeks were difficult, though. It felt like going from zero to about 875939935932 miles an hour in the time it took for my child to take her first breath. It was more overwhelming than I was able to anxiously anticipate before giving birth. It's impossible to completely understand how overwhelming it will be before it happens. I thought I had a pretty good idea since I've been taking care of other people's children for half my life, and have specifically been caring for newborns in the last year. But, woah. The first few weeks look a little something like this:
Here's your child, figure her out, because she needs something.
What is that something?
There's a tiny mouth trying to figure out
how to eat from a nipple attached to your body.
Does that hurt?
Sore nipples, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples.
Wait, she needs to eat again. Breathe through the pain.
Is this a 2-week extension of labor?
Every hour she eats, and I'm hypnobirth breathing to get through it.
Oops, I shot my child in the eye with a milk duct
that has a mind of its own.
Don't cry, baby.
Now I'm crying. WHY am I crying?
I couldn't tell you specifically.
Half a gallon of nipple cream.
Boobs leaking through every shirt I put on.
Wear them anyway.
Endless seas of breast pads. Honey, I need another one.
Honey, can you pick me up the thickest Maxi pads
they sell at Whole Foods? Is that embarrassing?
Oh wait, while you're there, I need more breast pads,
and nipple cream, and something to soothe my perineum.
Does she feel warm to you? Where's the rectal thermometer?
Call the pediatrician. Do we need to go to the ER?
On our way to the ER. There's nothing wrong with our baby.
We stop for Indian takeout instead.
She needs to eat. Again?! Really?!
It's 3 am, I'm on Facebook.
I need to learn to breastfeed while lying down, while still sleeping,
because there isn't enough internet to surf
and I think I might enter a state of psychosis if I don't start sleeping.
She spit up in my hair. But, I won't shower again for 2 days.
Can you tell? Oh well.
Why. Are. You. Crying?
I've only known you a week, how am I supposed to know?
I'm your mama, you say?
We're in the middle of traffic and you're screaming.
You need to eat no later than NOW.
Pull the car over, dear.
Pull my boob out— college tour group walks right past me
on the right side of the car,
and look, there are construction workers
working on the road on the left side of the car.
I took a shower today, with soap and everything.
It felt like I was at the spa.
Honey, I need you to wash my disposable mesh underwear.
Yes, the ones that go up past my belly button.
Yes, I know they are disposable, but I neeeeed them.
They're so big and roomy. You don't want to see me in them?
Look over here. I'm dancing in them. You like that?
Oh no, my boob is leaking. Sorry about that.
You say I have the attention span of a goldfish now?
I would fight you on that, but you're right.
Hooray, you pooped!
You're such a happy baby when you poop!
Whennnnnnn am I going to stop bleeding?
Something the size of a tangerine just fell out of me. Is that okay?
Get. Me. Some. Food.
I have the appetite of a starving wolverine.
This child is sucking every calorie I have to spare right out of my body.
I think I just fell asleep while talking to you.
We have visitors? Fantastic. I've been wearing the same nightgown
for 3 days and my baby just pooped on me.
I'm standing in the driveway, the neighbors are in their yard,
I forgot to put my left breast away before I walked outside.
Did they see that? Oh well.
Hiiiiiiiiiii baaaabyyyyyyyy, mama lovvvvvves youuuuuu.
Ohhhhhhh ahhhhhhh gooooo.
You're so pretty. Yes, you are.
Mama loves you soooooo much.
You're the most amazing baby in the whole word. Yes, you are.
Oh. my. god.
I'm a mama.
Like, for real. And for forever.
Can she please never stop spooning me in bed,
her tiny body tucked up against me?
Life is a little different at 7 weeks. But, still chaotic. It's not that things "settle down" per se, it's more that they shift and become chaotic for different reasons. And you feel a little more used to being a parent. But, also not.
Overall, though, it's a beautiful mess.