-written January 28, 2015
So here’s the thing, I am wholeheartedly convinced that only other moms will actually understand what I am describing below. This is because only a mere 7 months ago I would come across descriptions of motherhood like I’ve laid out below and think I totally understood what that was like, or what that felt like, but, as it turns out, I had not even a speck of an idea what actually went down. I could, and possibly should, just skip attempting to adequately describe indescribable states of being and feeling as I have experienced since I gave birth but I simply can’t help it. To me, these things are incredible! Despite the way they come across I am actually attempting to describe the wonder I have experienced in these things. Not the pain, not the sleep deprivation, not the discomfort. No, the wonder. I find all of this, even the blood and guts, supremely fascinating. Call me crazy but I guess it’s a little of my dad, the science teacher, coming out in me. The things a human body can, and will, do to survive and, more importantly, preserve the life of one’s offspring is astounding. I absolutely love that I have gotten to be present in such a primal state of human nature as this! Here are some of the wonders I’ve experienced as a new mom in a sort of segmented bullet form, without the bullet, format.
Immediately post birth it feels like someone popped a balloon in your stomach. Baby and guts come out and suddenly your body does not know how to stand up straight unsupported by that beach ball of a belly and in that moment you realize that somewhere along the way your body started supporting itself on that huge mass that was your belly. I felt deflated, like a wilted flower.
New mom = waterworks. If you, fellow mom, did not experience the need to cry at everything, or nothing at all, please do share. Please note, I was formerly a prideful tearless wonder and in the months immediately following birth Maisy would simply look at me and I would cry.
Postpartum lady bits are no better than bloated road kill. Seriously did not know what was what downstairs for many many weeks. Sorry dudes. TMI I know, but I have to share because I was mostly aghast at the state of those things (and, of course sore, but that goes without saying.)
A feeling of cleanliness lasts minutes. Showers have never been so glorious. Especially the uninterrupted variety when I have a husband at home and awake to be on Maisy duty while I get to bask in the refreshment of hot water droplets streaming across my perpetually stinky body. If it’s not spit up, blood and gore, or your average daily stink, it is the excitable milk production unceasingly leaking onto your clothes for what seems like forever. I also had an oversupply so my body took something like 5-6 months to finally stop leaking through breast pads within the hour and onto my clothing. I woke up every morning in a puddle of my own milk. Talk about a glowing mom right? Oh wait, that’s not a thing. You can only glow when you’re pregnant. Isn’t that just the darnedest?
The haze. I didn’t know I’d entered a haze until I came out of it. They aren’t kidding when they say there is a state the female human goes to when in labor and then, apparently, afterwards to care for their new little human. I thought I was enjoying new motherhood but it wasn’t until I healed up enough to feel like my innards weren’t going to fall out through my vagina that my brains finally started to come back. And then, about a couple months later, I pulled the rest of the way out of the haze. I remember the moment I realized I was in a haze. I was on my way to my second wedding photography gig after Maisy’s birth. I was trying to pay attention to my directions and drive like a normal person. I had a glaring moment of clarity what it must feel like to be an old person as I was overwhelmed, to say the least, by the whole world of things one has to pay attention to while driving. There are other cars in front of you, behind you, to the sides of you… I had this unsettling worry that no matter how carefully I thought I looked every which way that I would still get sideswiped by some car that came out of the blindspot of my sleep deprived mommy brain. Every time I turned, or moved really, I was uttering quick prayers of protection and wishing on a star that I didn’t overlook some other raging machine. That day, I got pulled over and was given a hefty ticket of something like $200 (I blocked the number out for self preservation purposes) for “inattentive driving” because, despite my most earnest attempts to explain my brain to the officer, he obviously felt no compassion towards delirious and emotionally insane (yes, I was a blubbering fool) new mom. The worst of it was I still had to go and photograph this wedding. Hardest professional moment of my life. Despite vehement attempts at pep talking myself out of feelings and “boxing” up my whole morning into the “do not disturb” part of my brain, my mommy brain and wildly imbalanced emotions had me sobbing all the way to the getting ready spot, through the halls, into the elevator, down the hall, right in front of the bride’s hotel room, then back down the hall (because I clearly wasn’t ready yet), and finally back in front of the door as pulled together as I was going to manage. Later on I blamed my red eyes on allergies for the bride. Probably the only moment in my whole life I’ve been thankful for a bad few days with some allergies.
Don’t poke the bear- the mama bear to be specific. That’s a phrase I’ve heard before. I didn’t realize how “mama bear” is precisely the only way to succinctly title the monster that wakens inside of me even at the mere thought of Maisy being in danger’s way. I actually feel like there’s a bear inside me roaring at any threat that crosses Maisy in my mind. For example, one day I was driving to yoga class. It was a drizzly evening and I was driving an unreliable vehicle. I had a moment when I thought the gas pedal might not stop accelerating. To be fair, it lasted a millisecond, but in that millisecond my mind jumped wildly through possible means to preserve the life of my child. The best I came up with was that I was going to have to unhook her carseat, wrap my body around the front of said carseat, and throw the both of us out the car door and cling to that hunk of safety plastic like I was some annoying duct tape residue. Josh made fun of me later, “did you ever think to just wait until the car ran out of gas?” My reply, “no, all I was thinking was that I probably would be going 90 some miles an hour and speeding through stop signs and red lights risking collision if I didn’t get us both out of the car when we were going a more reasonable 55 miles an hour.”
Motherhood is a beautiful, crazy thing and I love it.
Ta ta for now!
I am so happy you wrote this. I was trying to explain to my husband tonight at dinner about how I literally have been going through life constantly on the verge of tears. I seriously feel like I am about to cry 24 hours a day and then it takes the tiniest thing to set me off!
Also, yes to the Mama Bear thing. I am Mama Bear, hear me roar.