When I published my article about my postpartum feelings with my first son, I envisioned it as the first part of a series of three posts comparing/contrasting my postpartum feelings and experiences following each child. Here’s what happened—I wrote part two in which I shared some of the recurrent thoughts I had in the year following my second son’s birth and decided that I just don’t feel like publishing it. Reading it back over makes me feel like I probably could have been considered mentally ill and I don’t really feel like sharing that right now. I started to analyze why I feel like sharing any kinds of feelings via blog anyway—really, what is this about? Why “expose” myself? In part, because that is what helped, and still helps, me the most; knowing that I’m not alone in my feelings and that other women have “been there.” So, I feel I have a responsibility of sorts to share my own “been theres.” When I began this website/blog, it was primarily about gathering and sharing information with others, not about telling my own story or sharing my personal experiences. I didn’t start it intending to have any element of a, “personal journal published online” feeling. After the birth-miscarriage of my third son and then my pregnancy-after-loss journey, it took on more of the personal journal flavor. And, I’ve liked that. I’ve enjoyed sharing my feelings and experiences and learning from the comments other people leave that I’ve “spoken” to something in them, and/or helped someone to understand their own experiences (or me) better. That said, I don’t have to share everything I write just because I’ve bothered typing it and I just don’t feel like sharing my second post about weirdo, “crazy” postpartum thoughts right now. So there! Maybe someday I’ll hit “publish” on it.
Of course I know (and firmly believe!), that you’re “postpartum for the rest of your life” (Robin Lim), but I feel like this current postpartum experience is different than my others in some qualitatively different ways. I first credited it to having taken placenta pills this time around. My doula encapsulated my placenta for me and I took all 95 capsules during the first 6 weeks postpartum. It was amazing! I have become a total “convert” to the benefits of placenta encapsulation. I felt GREAT and I had tons and tons of energy, instead of being wiped out and weak and exhausted feeling. I’ve only taken about two naps in Alaina’s life (this may come back to bite me with regard to lactational amenorrhea , we’ll see…) and that ISN’T because I’m crazy and was pushing myself too hard, it is because I haven’t felt like I needed to take any naps. I highly recommend placenta encapsulation. Amazingly powerful!
Another thing that is different about this experience is that I don’t feel “restricted” after having her—I don’t feel like I’ve had to sacrifice or let anything go, I feel like she has integrated smoothly into our lives. I had a phone counseling session with an intuitive healer the afternoon before Alaina was born and one of the new “neural pathways” I set was, “the new baby seamlessly integrates into our lives.” I think it worked! What is interesting, is that I have put quite a lot on hold lately, but it doesn’t feel like she MADE me, it feels like what I want to do (or not do, as the case may be). When my first son was born, I had to let go of most of my old life and work and it was very painful. With my second son. I felt like I had a lot of energy to give to the “world” that was being blocked/couldn’t find expression. This time, there is more balance. I’m continuing to teach college classes in-seat and online and that feels really good to me. I’m homeschooling the boys and doing well with that (we actually “do school” almost every day!). I read all of the time (55 books so far this year!). I’ve started a doctoral program. And, I make time for a variety of other smallish projects like facilitating quarterly women’s retreats, editing the FoMM newsletter, and answering breastfeeding help calls/emails. Oh, and making birth art sculptures (new pictures to follow soon!) And, here’s what I’m not doing: writing new articles, working on my books (I have three in progress), doing much birth work, staying caught up on articles/news/research, teaching prenatal yoga or prenatal fitness classes or leading birth art sessions (all of which I trained to do last year), creating (or teaching) any new craft classes for our annual craft camp, writing the dozens of blog posts that come to mind (or even pulling old material into this blog the way I’d like to do), staying caught up with book reviews, keeping up with the garden, etc., etc. More about balancing mothering and personing will follow someday. I promise!
With previous babies, I’ve felt very haunted by the “list” of all I’m not doing. While I still feel this way sometimes, I more often have a less familiar feeling—that of amazement at my own capacity for adaptation and change. I regularly feel kind of proud of myself—like, look how I can expand and enfold and how I can create a life that works and is satisfying as it continually evolves and changes.
This time with my baby has been the sweetest and most delicious time in my life. Yes, I’m still busy and overextended and hard on myself about a lot of things, but there is a different clarity to the experience. I feel like every moment with her is so vivid, clear, and memorable and like each one is being etched into me. It is just so real this life we have together now and it is weird for me to realize how quickly things change and how pretty soon, this life that I’m living in this moment, will just be our past. I do feel like I savored my boys’ infancies as well, but I don’t remember this sharpness of feeling and observation. I feel like I will never forget what it is like to be this mother of my baby girl. However, I also know that the reality is that the growing baby and then toddler, and then child replaces the one who came before (even though it is the same person—those other versions of them are replaced by the vivid reality of the now). So, while I retain distinct mental snapshots of my life with the boys as babies, their current, vibrant, and ever-growing selves are much more intense and real (obviously), and I know it will be the same with her. And, it makes my eyes well up to know that this sharp sweetness will float away on the rivers of time and that before I know it, I will be the mother of two men and a woman. It is hard to explain what I mean in writing—what I want to say is, “but this is SO REAL now.” Well, duh. It IS real now. And, later will be real as well. That is just the flow of life, Molly dear ;-P However, one of the main reasons I wanted to get her pictures taken yesterday is to try to capture what it is like to be her mother NOW:
Then, last night while I was nursing her to sleep in my arms as I have done every night for five months, I took this picture myself to capture how well we fit together. I wanted to get how her little feet are nestled into my legs so perfectly and how her hands rests on me and how her head cradles in my arm:
I know this one isn’t a pro picture, but this is what it is like to be her mama