I wonder, shall my years always be measured out from August to August? Shall I now run my life on years from the eighth month on? I shall not be surprised. It seems so much has changed in these last 12 months, it seems almost normal to be in such a permanent state of flux.
This year. It has seemed endless and momentous all at once. It was truly, just yesterday I walked the sidewalks of our neighborhood – anxiously awaiting her arrival. And yet, years ago –lifetimes – I existed without her… without the constant thought of her, the need in my heart for her health and happiness, the empty space in my chest, in my arms, when she is not physically close by.
How did I wander this earth without her? How did I exist? Live? How did I carry that empty space, so ignorant of it; so oblivious to its utter size and weight? Yet now, I struggle at times beneath it. This past week, on an airplane taking me thousands of miles from her I ached like I never have before. Panic sat in my chest, sadness and tears chased every blink.
She is my very joy. How did I go so long without her?
I’m finding balance, though. Finding myself. It’s been a hard road, that. My love for her was at once all consuming. I knew no else. No one else. I gladly gave in to every instinct, every whispered voice in my heart and took care of her. Nurtured her. Loved her.
And it came easy. It came easy to forget myself, to set aside Sam (a shaming and horrible confession there) and become a mother. To stop being a wife and a friend and an artist and a designer and, well, me for a while.
To be for her.
I’m finding my way back now – finding the me I was before, yet now someone different. Finding the wife Sam wants and needs me to be. Finding the friend I know I need and can be. And, finding the artist. The person I want Maire to see when she looks up at me. Looks up to me.
That has been the hardest.
Finding the balance, that path. That way of being.
No one tells you that. Oh, everyone has their warnings – all of which I found to fall flat once I was in the midst of the experience.
First it was the natural childbirth – I couldn’t do it, it would hurt – why would I deny modern medicine?! So and So’s wife’s sister said she was going to do it, but lo! She got the epidural… It seemed everyone who asked what I was planning on doing had some piece of warning or advice. As if I hadn’t thoroughly thought it out. As if I hadn’t done my research. As if it was a rapt decision. But in the end, she and I did it. In the end, it was no where near as bad as people say.
As anyone says, or as tv and movies make it look. It was an unbelievable, undeniable, AMAZING experience – and I hope I’m blessed to be able to do it again. I would in a second. I would have said the same that night as we rested in the bed, eating cheeseburgers and drinking milkshakes.
Again, again, again.
In a heartbeat.
And of course, there’s the breastfeeding. Before I had Maire it was the one thing that scared me. EVERYone had nothing but horror stories. Oh! How it hurt! And it was inconvenient and it was hard and it was a mess and have we mentioned – it hurts? Please, all my friends who have yet to have children know this: it does not hurt if it’s done right. GET HELP. Right away. That baby knows what to do. YOU know what to do. And while it is a bit crazy at first and it can seem overwhelming, it is possible and wonderful and just as amazing as everything else.
I have relished my time with Maire nursing her. I have fed her in museums, on trains, in planes, walking down the street, hiking across a valley, strolling through a stadium… I have not once – not once – been nothing but joyous about it. It has allowed me to give her something no one else in this world can, and when it slows to a stop (as it already has begin to) I know I will find myself more than a little heartbroken.
My experience being a mom, to say the least has come easily and readily and has been the best thing I have ever done in my life. It is the finding my way as a mom in this new world that has been hard. Building a new life, defining myself in this new way. But I have no doubt I will do it.
If anything, this has shown me that when I am open to the possibilities, that when I trust myself and what I know in my heart – only good things can happen.
Becoming a mother has been like coming home. In every way. I have never been more happy, never felt more comfortable. More complete.
I have never done anything like this before.