Saturday, 18 January 2014

About Time...

Here we are, Samson and I, toasty warm in our tiny house on a crisp winter day. We're getting close to four weeks after the big birthday and I'm finding it difficult to grasp the crazy miracle that is life. I told my mother the other day that I find the strangest thing about becoming a parent is that I am still absolutely one hundred percent myself. Subconsciously I somehow imagined that once you have your child in your arms, "mother" is who you become, before anything else. Of course, while that is true in your child's eyes, it doesn't happen that way, and I don't think it would be healthy if it did. You're still you, exactly the way you were before your contractions started and that tiny person who miraculously swelled your heart showed up, or even before he was concieved. You are you, just with the added "terrifying joy of unbearable responsibility" as Andrew Solomon so eloquently put it in his TED talk.

While pregnant I really enjoyed reading other women's labor stories, and I thought I would definitely want to write up my own tale, but now that it's done and dusted (basically, 20 hours of torture), I actually don't feel the need. Let's just say that for all the Active Birth training and positive visualization in the world, nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming, drenching pain that is (was) birth (for me). None the less I would still recommend all that preparation for anyone expecting, because it's certainly a great thing to approach it in a calm, educated and hopeful way; prepare for the worst, but expect the best. And when you do get there, and if it's unbearable, know that it is merely a fragment of your life experience, but with a wonderful gift at the end - and the very second that baby comes out, the pain disappears.

Other things I did not expect/know:
  • I thought I would be very emotional seeing my baby for the first time, but in fact by then I was so physically and mentally tired that it all felt utterly surreal. In fact, I'm still discovering the slowly growing, deep love I feel for Samson.
  • Breastfeeding can be really tricky. In the beginning, it hurts sort of like lemon juice squeezed into papercuts on your nipples;Your baby might have trouble latching on (Samson tends to put his arms in front of the breast and then get really angry that he can't get to the nipple);  Once your milk is flowing, it might (like in my case) flow like tap water, which means you'll be wet and sticky, and so will your baby and your clothes and your bed sheets, every feeding, every day, until your body settles.
  • Babies can grow very fast. I did sort of know that, but I didn't expect my tiny bundle to grow two centimeters per week(!)