ramblings of a new mother: 3 months post pregnancy.
We become mothers and fathers overnight. We change our lifestyles (sometimes), and as mothers, we often change our appearances, lightening our hair, chopping it off, changing our style. We strive to accommidate our baby (whether we like it or not), breastfeeding friendly clothing and all.
The other night I was up at 3:00am, and feeling ravenously hungry, so I ate a muffin on the couch, lights off, the hazy glow of the street lamp flooding my living room. It reminded me of pregnancy, when I was up every, single night, usually around midnight, feeling throbbing hunger pangs in my tummy, a clammy queasiness working it’s way through my body. I would crawl back in bed, the taste of Cheerios and almond milk on my lips, too tired to re brush my teeth, but hating the taste in my mouth.
I came across a journal entry recently, that I wrote during pregnancy, and it shocked me, and terrified me, since I’m already wondering what it would feel like to be pregnant again…
Somedays I have been so sick, I feel like my life is over, like I will die. I cry like I’ve never cried before, sorrow, fear, pain, exhaustion all seeping out of my pores. I am praying it passes everyday.
It’s summer, it’s hot. I love being in my bed, in the dark, with a cool cloth and the fan on high. Sometimes I pour water all over my belly and my face to cool off.
I also found an album on my ipod that I played every night in the summertime dusk, concentrating on the blank wall, willing myself not to throw up. It’s a compilation of scripture relating to childbearing accompnianed by piano. I needed it every night to make it through. It was a ritual that helped propel me forward. Just one more day. Just one more minute, until eventually I could fall asleep, sitting upright, still as a lake at dawn.
“For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well…” Psalm 139.
That Bible verse and many others kept me going and going, a very effective mediation for my pregnant soul.
Today I put the album on again. At the first sound of the piano, I was thrown right back to the summer and fall of 2011. At at my feet, laying on her back looking up at me, was my little mustard seed, now named Florence. I stood there for quite some time staring at her face, her long body, the fuzz on top of her head. I put my hands to my empty belly. Did that happen? Is it over? I was stunned. Maybe I feel things too deeply, maybe I think about things too much, but I just cannot get over the miracle of pregnancy, the battles fought over toilet bowls and buckets and bits of food, cut into pieces small enough to swallow in one gulp. I know not everyone has a brutal first and second trimester, and I know a lot of women have a harder time than I did. I’m hopeful for the next pregnancy, hopeful that things will be different.
And yet…looking back, I cherish that time. I felt very much alone, but forged an intimate relationship with my God. I couldn’t express to Jay, to anyone how terrible I felt. My emotions were on standstill. All I could do was concentrate on each minute, each movement, the swell of saliva in my mouth right before I felt like throwing up. But….it passed, slowly, slowly, it passed. And the joy came. And the exhilirating adrenaline that accompnied the first and second trimester ebbed away as I settled into my pregnancy.
The heaviness came. The weight came. And three month ago, the miracle came.
Looking back…I gasp in wonder. How is possible that I forget what it’s like to be pregnant? How is possible that I want another baby! That I want to do it again? It’s grace. A cloudy amnesia settles over my mind whenever I look at pictures of myself pregnant. How lovely, I think. And it was. I’m so glad I can say that now. Tonight I’ll tuck myself into bed, just me, no round belly protruding through the sheets, no hiccups or kicks keeping me awake. I’ll look at a sleeping Florence and tell myself, “It can’t be.”
When I was pregnant, I found it hard to believe that I would give birth one day, that it would end, that a baby would emerge. Now that it’s over, I find it hard to believe that it all happened. No matter how I look at it, it’s nearly impossible to understand. It’s too great a miracle to comprehend.
For the first 24 hours after giving birth to Florence, I would look down at my belly, and cry hard fat tears of sorrow. “My baby is out, she came out! Jay, she came out! She’s not inside of me.” I don’t quite understand why I felt it so deeply, but I did, I felt the loss of her, the release. I would cry and cry on Jay’s shoulder, overwhelmed and overjoyed, reliving that moment when she suddenly became a warm, slippery mess of arms and legs, a real live being, placed on my chest for the very first time.
And because that moment changed me so deeply, because of her milk blistered lips and eyes that can’t cry real tears, because her fists didn’t open for months and her rolls of baby fat often smell like cheese, because of her and all these beautiful things, I will do it again.