Five days after the birth of my first child, the hormone onslaught I had read and heard about hit me. The fifth day stands out to me in particular. Most of that day was spent leaking in so many unimaginable ways. Leaking in that I was nursing non-stop, yes, but mainly I remember leaking in the form of tears. It was as though a tap was turned on and all of the fluid in my body was evacuating through my eyes. Make no mistake, this Niagara Falls-worthy crying wasn’t just because of the episiotomy stitches or sore nipples – or more importantly from lack of sleep – though all were factors in my experience of that day. I was crying out of sheer joy. I never expected to feel the enormity of this love. For my baby. For my husband. For the life we created together. Hallucinations haunted me all day long as I vividly relived all of the amazing things Joel and I had done together from the day we met until the birth of our baby. I was crying (flooding) because I was in love with the life we shared together. What a beautiful mess I was. Such an enviable reason to shed tears and sob uncontrollably.
“I was crying (flooding) because I was in love with the life we shared together. What a beautiful mess I was …”
These days were the beginning. Life exists in many meaningful ways from childhood, youth, and right on through adulthood – don’t get me wrong. And I do believe that authentic, meaningful living can exist without the experience of having children. For me, though, children are the meaning. I had been looking forward to becoming a mother almost as a rite of passage. I imagined that the experience of birth alone would be transformative — and absolutely it was. Except that it wasn’t the overnight transformation I anticipated. Instead, I see looking back that it has been all of the little moments along the way that have contributed to strengthening my sense of self and assurances in a society that seems to earn its living from making people doubt their own worth. I found strength in the simple words “you’re doing a good job.” All of the times I was told I was a good mother by the best of my friends and family who knew just what a new mother wants — needs — to hear. All of the times I stuck with my instincts, however contrary to the mainstream, and was rewarded with a healthy, growing babe. Evidence of the fruits of my labour did away with the doubts that plagued me in the early days of motherhood. Besides, it’s so easy to ignore all of the voices of doubt and opinions of others when faced with a smiling happy babe each day.
After the birth of her son, a good friend once told me that of all the warnings she heard about lack of sleep and what life would be like with a baby, no one told her how much you would love your baby — how incredible it would feel to be a mother. No one warned her how amazing it all would be. That stuck with me for years and even though I was warned, I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of loving full to bursting and then miraculously loving even more.
No one warned her how amazing it all would be.
This blog chronicles the life — and abundant joy — of motherhood as I experience it with my first baby, Finn. These first six months are only the beginning. And so far I can’t begin to count the ways my heart has doubled.