Postpartum Surprises

-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!


Short Stories From the Past 24 Hours

First Trip to the Zoo

Yesterday Maisy and I went to the zoo with some of the in-laws for my nephew’s second birthday.  We walked through all the exhibits, rode the train, and rode the merry go round.  While I was busy enjoying the animals and telling my niece all sorts of fun facts about each one, Maisy was busy enjoying watching the kids.  At least one of us actually observed the animal part of the zoo.

Confession From Your Average Mother

Yesterday evening I resolved to take Maisy to the park for a ride on the swing.  When this stubborn Swede resolves to do something you better believe it’s going to get done, even if it’s by tooth and nail.  So, when we show up to a partially busted baby swing I plop Maisy in anyway.  My strong 10-month-old latches her killer grip onto the chains and off she goes smiling and laughing successfully for several minutes.  Now, this next moment I’ve played over and over again in my head and I still can’t figure out how it happened, but suddenly my secure little girl has flipped over the front of the swing, done a front flip, and landed flat on her belly.  I’m frozen like a deer in headlights for a split second waiting for her to scream.  She doesn’t make a sound.  I pick up my baby girl to find her working on a mouthful of sand.  She doesn’t even look upset, just perplexed at this new in-mouth phenomenon.  As I’m cleaning her off and trying to help get the sand out of her mouth I realize she’s getting mad that I’m trying to help.  So I let her eat the sand, she deserves to eat sand if she wants after tumbling off a swing.

Mama Bear to the Rescue

Last night I’m hanging clothes on the line (yeah I forgot to do the load when I could benefit from faster drying by the sun shine) when I spot Sam in the garden.  Now that it’s warm out one of my goals is to train the dogs to stay out of the garden, so I start commanding him to get out.  Instead, he does this dance.  I command again as I start walking towards him, getting more furious by the second.  He does his dance again.  I command him yet again though I’m slowly realizing something else is going on.  He does a dance again.  Then I’m upon him, I scoop him up and plop him out of the raised bed.  My eyes settle on a patch of downy fur.  Sure enough, the dance that signals Sam has happened upon an unknown source of movement was legitimate.  I see the area surrounding the fur rustle.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  I’m trying to glimpse what I have here thinking that some of the rustling will reveal a little more.  No luck, so I grab a nearby small planter to act as a shovel to help me investigate – don’t want my fingers nipped by whatever is in there nor do I want to get diseased bird germs all over my hands.  I’m ruffling through the leaf and fur debris expecting to happen upon a wounded bird.  Instead, I uncover a whole pile of baby bunnies.  These cute little buggers are nestled right next to the row of carrots I just planted.  Of course.  If only Maisy were old enough to at least enjoy these cute little pests.  Instead, the animal enthusiast and mama bear that I am, I am standing guard over these little babes every time I have to let Sam out to pee.  Please grow up fast little bunnies.

Confession of a Sleep Deprived Mother

Just before dawn Maisy wakes to nurse yet again.  I doze off as soon as she gets to work only to wake moments later to an odd warm sensation on my leg.  In my half dream state my mind bounces through the possibilities.  Did I wet myself?  No, that’s not possible from the outer side of my leg.  Did my water break?  No, I don’t have one of those.  Is a really hot Maisy leg touching me?  No.  Did she throw up.  No.  Is my breastmilk leaking all over?  No, my breasts are too far away from my thigh (at least for now, talk to me after more babies and maybe I’ll be whistling a different tune).  Did Maisy pee?  Did her diaper fall off?  That’s an awful lot of pee to be coming from her.

I root around in the dark.  Maisy feels bone dry.  And then I feel just under the side of her rump that’s nestled in closest to me.  Soaking wet.  I have two choices:  one, wake my now sleeping baby and change everything from her diaper to her sleep sack to my clothes to the sheets; two, embrace the warmth and go to sleep.  I chose the latter.