just loving how motherhood is kicking my ass.
I sit with both babies asleep. Its too hot for April but I’m enjoying the quiet, finding a moment to contemplate my fate and journey and choices. I am so grateful and in awe of my life, yet have never been so challenged or lost. Then I stumble across this amazing piece written by Alanis Morissette. She puts words in an order and phrases the experience in a way that makes my soul sing, its like hearing a song that just matches your mood and so makes you feel a little better.
A beautiful take on postpartum by BINI client Alanis Morissette
No one told me about post partum
by Alanis Morissette
And when they’d attempted to, these forthcoming women shared semi-hazy and sweet greatest-hit-recollections of their experiences. they made the after-the-baby-is-born era sound somewhat idyllic, if they remembered it at all. So, as I was wont to do, I put their stories together, composite-style, into a fantasy that included gazing lovingly into my lil bird’s tiny face, bursting into tears at the sheer mystery and miracle of it all, buoyed by and cradled in clouds surrounded by cherub angels gushing about how ‘his lips were his father’s and his deep contemplative gaze, mine.’ Nice.
Not the first time there were other parts, beyond the fantasy, that I hadn’t considered.
I had used, as usual, the ‘I’ll-rise-to-that-occasion-when-I-get-there’ approach to the post-child-bearing journey, so all my DVD watching, orientation and juice went toward the birth experience itself, and how best to prepare myself for that (as though I really could prepare for a human. being. coming. out. of. my. body.).
Perhaps there was a method to my huge oversight. A necessary judiciousness exercised for the sake of not exploding in overwhelm during the big lead-up to this new role of mom-hood. (“if we give this to her piece-meal, she just might get there intact!” or…not.
So I found myself lying there, stunned, humbled, overcome, reduced…the final push serving as a portal that hurtled me, irrevocably into this new sacred, uncharted, role that I had yet to wrap my oxytocin-riddled brain around.
I quickly came to see that life, hormones and the stunning wrecking ball that is a new family member don’t really wait for mom to wrap her head around much before they serve the New Mind-boggling Circumstance up. Biological and spiritual imperatives have their way of bowling over first, and asking questions later, if they ever circle back to ask ‘em.
There were no kid gloves here, pardon the pun. I had to buck up. Something Greater Than Me had to take over. My go-to survival strategy of headiness combined with tomboyish physicality was not going to serve me in this new post partum terrain, because, well, these qualities had been kidnapped by my hormones. I was in the perineum-pain’d and hormonally swamp-y trenches with an instant family, a blank slate. No handbook. no helmet. have mercy.
Not the first time I was invited to get out of my head and into the direct experience of something. But oh man, I am a kicker and a screamer and my strategies do not go down without a fight, however futile that fight might be. Only took me 9 months to see that fighting for some semblance of familiarity I had come to find in my “old life” was indeed that: futile. (note: the fighting did not give credence to the idea that this new life was infinitely better! My single days had run its’ course! Here I was, being offered a life I had always dreamed of! A plan I could not have come up with without a divine partner and baby intervention! )
And so continued my ongoing journey of surrender, this time at warp speed, in the form of a tiny lil baby bird who required that I look alive, even if I didn’t feel it.
A most noble demand made of me. I had to abort this single-life-self-care plan that had only recently begun to take root. A demand that required my spiritual bootstraps to be pulled up even when I didn’t know my own name, let alone that I was wearing boots.
As the days went on, I could see that the less I fought what just WAS, the more I could breathe. This was no small task for my ego: This ruthless perfect storm of first-year-of-marriage, alpha career woman balancing attachment parenting approach, hormonal mayhem, friendship compatibilities waning and wavering, priorities fighting, workaholism recovering, schedule obliterating, sleep depriving, depression slippery-slope-off-staving, stranger in my body-ness (I could write for days on nursing alone!), boundary setting, and among many others, geographical and philosophical and lifestyle quandaries abounding. This was no small feat begged by these new small feet.
I remain baffled at how little I was prepared for what was to come, after birth. It was all I could do not to cry out for the kind of mothering that I was intending to offer my lil one. Someone who could swoop in and just DO THIS FOR ME, while I trembled in the corner. (I remember crying out on a walk up the street, startling a dog.)
But no, this was my call to rise to. My wave to surf. and There was no doula alive that could have reached in and taught me what I have learned through experience. There was no midwife who could show me how to grow up, warp-speed from complicated contemplative maiden to accountable and predictable matriarch. These things required months of growth and calibrating! And here I naively thought that I would arrive as a MOM at the same time as my lil boy arrived as a SON. The latter waaay preceded the former. But necessity precedes form sometimes.
My humility and reduction-to-knees found me wanting to kiss the feet of all mothers who had gone before me. I would never be so blithe and casual around the topic of motherhood again! (So sorry mom.) Since last december, I’ve borne holes through to the soul of any new mother that will indulge it, with a look that says: “wow. yes. omigod.uh-huh.yup.”
All this to say that I now look at mommas, whether their birth happened at home, hospital, field, tub, taxi cab…anywhere, with or without epidural, exactly or couldn’t-be-farther-from-their ideal picture of birth, and I bow.
Life, literally and figuratively moved through me that morning of December 25th. Yet another example of life’s unsentimental and ruthless way of shaking me awake to the direct experience of being human. My suffering commensurate to my desire to hold on and control something stunningly out of my control. See I thought post partum would be all about the birth of my baby. I had no idea the person I’d always dreamed of becoming was being born at the exact same time.