Tuesday, May 5, 2015
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
What does it mean to be a mother? I wish I had a beautifully poetic, well-thought-out definition but I don't. People have asked me how I enjoy motherhood and I know they want to hear how rewarding it is and how my life has been impacted for the better but, for me, being a mother of a newborn is not an euphoric experience. I don't hate it, I'm not depressed, this is just my experience.
Over the past three months, each one has come with it's own challenges. The first month I remember as somewhat of a honey moon with the baby. I was tired and sore from delivery, but very blessed to have family in town for the whole month. I didn't have to cook, clean or stay up with the baby during the day if I needed a nap. I remember the baby sleeping pretty well at night (one night she even slept 8 hours!) and being scared to let her sleep during the day in fear that she wouldn't sleep at night. My main goal for this first month was to heal and, thanks to my family, I was able to do that!
The second month was the hardest. Since I was able to get so much rest during the first month, being alone with the baby didn't scare me. It was hard to find my rhythm to work in grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc... but I felt able. What became hard is around 6-7 weeks, the baby woke up and hit a growth spurt. We also had daylights savings time. Luckily the baby still slept during the night, but it was getting her to go to sleep that had me in fits. We would start her nighttime routine around 7 (I still don't remember why that time but it must have been when she was going to sleep previously) which consisted of bath, feeding, swaddle and to bed but she wouldn't sleep. My husband and I would take turns for hours rocking her trying to get her to sleep. We put trash bags over the windows to make it darker in her room. We had a vibrating pad in her crib to try to soothe her. We had two noisemakers (mother's heart beat and white noise). I tried essential oils to "soothe" her to sleep. Still for a week or two we tag teamed bouncing her for 2-3 hours.
We have a sleep book suggested by my pediatrician and one night, out of total desperation, I was studying the book trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. It was suggested in the book that around this age babies enjoy an earlier bedtime so we started bedtime around 6-6:30. The first night was beautiful. Bath, feeding, swaddle, in bed and asleep. She woke up to eat again about an hour or so after we put her down and went back to sleep. But as the week progressed, it turned into the same ol' song and dance to where, eventually, she wouldn't even go to sleep after the bath and swaddle. As I was sobbing in my room (out of pure frustration, desperation, and coming to terms that I would never sleep again [I'm not dramatic at all..]) I pulled myself together, went into her room and took her from my husband and she was asleep! Like completely out. I looked at the time and realized it was the same time she had been going to sleep all along when we would spend hours in her room rocking her. Alas! It wasn't an earlier bedtime but a later bedtime that was needed.
The third month of my baby's life was ushered in with another growth spurt but luckily I could recognize the signs of what was going on and I extended a little more patience. At this point she is very interested in the world around her, constantly looking around wherever we are. The one comment I receive most consistently about her (besides how cute she is :D ) is how alert she is. She loves bath time and loves to swat and sometimes grab her toys dangling from her jungle gym. She can grab other toys if you hold it out for her and she loves to smile and we can squeeze a laugh out of her occasionally.
To say that my experience with motherhood has not been a spiritual one would not be true. Just like with new exercise routines you find muscles you didn't know you had, I have been stretched in ways I didn't know I needed to be. One of the biggest lessons is remembering that my baby is not out to get me. She doesn't mean anything by what she does. While we are all learning about life, she's just starting out on this journey of life.
While I don't have any flowery description of what it means to be my baby's mother, I am grateful that I have the chance and opportunity to guide her through this initial part of her life and watch her grow. It might have not been as soon as I was delivered of the child that I was joyful, but every day, week, month has brought more and more joy that a [wo]man "has been born into the world".