Sunday, November 25, 2012

This picture.

Our truly wonderful midwife, Colette, snapped this photo moments after Kamal's birth, and I'm so grateful that she did. It's only when I look at it that I really remember the breathless, astonished love I felt as he reached for me, wailing, like he was searching for something stable and familiar in the shocking new wideness he'd just found himself in.

With that memory, of course, comes a flood of other memories, all disjointed flashes. The exhaustion that pressed in on me after sixty hours of labor, so intense that I wasn't sure I'd remember how to eat or pee or even sleep. The metallic smells of the hospital stay I'd hoped to avoid by planning a home birth. The abject, shameful terror that surfaced whenever I thought about all the drama my lady parts had just endured, or wondered how on earth I was going to be a mother when I just wanted to sleep for weeks.

The vivid brightness and darkness of those early days seemed disconnected from any previously-known sense of time. I cried every day for a week, because I was fatigued, because I was afraid having a baby had been a mistake I couldn't undo, because I was frankly mourning the loss of our pre-baby life, and because I was deeply ashamed of all those feelings.

So, more than for anyone else, I'm writing this blog for the women in those first few days of motherhood. Those days are hard, and we don't talk enough about how hard they are, so when we struggle with them, we feel shame around that struggle. I had the great good fortune to be surrounded by a circle of other friends who'd recently had babies; when I reached out to them, they all assured me that I wasn't alone, that they'd all been where I was.

And most critically, they assured me that it would get better. It did, and that is the message I want most to  import here. I wouldn't want to repeat those first two weeks for love or money, but I wouldn't trade them, either. It was hard for all three of us, and bonded us in a way easier days couldn't have. It showed Adam and I how committed we truly were to the process of parenting and how committed Kamal was to staying and thriving in the world. Beyond the love we felt immediately for our tiny son, we learned respect for him in those hard weeks. We built a strong and balanced foundation for our new little family. And while our day-to-day lives with a now-fifteen-and-a-half-week old isn't what I'd call "easy," it's definitely easier--and it's really, really fun.

It does get better. I write here to show all the ways that it does.

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