Saturday, June 30, 2012

Becoming Mama

The first few days after we brought Laine home from the hospital were not the cooing, cuddling baby moon that I was expecting.  My body was sore and tired.  My mind was fractured from being up for 52 hours straight and nursing every three hours.  Dearest new moms, hear me: the first time is hard.  Heart-breakingly hard.  Nursing hurts.  I would sit and calculate how many more times I would have to nurse Laine if I nursed him for 12 months.  When my milk came roaring in, I cried bitterly.  My feet were still swollen and my pelvis still hurt.  I just wanted my body back.  I had developed a fierce jealousy of my baby, but I felt like I had been thrown into graduate-level courses before I had even finished first grade.  If you came close to my house, I was likely to put my head on your shoulder and cry.  This was tough stuff.  

But, day by day, my miraculous body knit itself back together, and day by day I could feel myself stretching into mama.  I stopped gritting my teeth through every nursing.  I could walk without pain, and, without even noticing, I began to change.  I grew stronger and deeper.  I slept less and remembered less, but I began to feel the unmentionable clenched fist of self begin to relent.  Not only did I love this child, I felt gentle and happy.  

Day upon day creates a life.  We are not mamas the day we conceive.  Sure you protect and nurture your baby, but becoming a mama is something slow and deep.  I want to reach back and hug that tired and guilty woman and tell her you just can't spoil a newborn and that, just like everything else, motherhood is a process.  Nursing is sticky and smelly.  Being newborn-tired will make you stupid.  And hormones could be classified as weapons of mass destruction.  


Love grows up and soon your body adjusts.  You cry less and leak less and eventually the little one smiles at you and the world just fits better.  Of course it isn't easy, but it is good.  I wish I could tell each and every parent-to-be out there to stop looking at gear and reading about parenting and just be.  Life is not about your due date or the perfect birth, it is about messy, imperfect, lovely be-ing.  

And if anyone knows the secret to getting an almost four-year-old to go to bed in his own "ridiculous" bed, I would pay good money for it. 

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