I didn't think it would be this difficult to write my next blog post....but I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my head and I just couldn't sort them out into a well-organized, readable, titled post. So I just didn't write at all.
My Axton turned 4 weeks old yesterday. He changes everyday. I thought it was time I throw some thoughts together.
I've been thinking a lot about motherhood and femininity, and how they seem a bit contradictory at first. Yes, of course, growing and creating and birthing and feeding a child is the ULTIMATE of womanhood because, obviously, only women can do it. And yes it's beautiful. But there are so many uglies involved in that process, too. So many things that the world wouldn't consider very feminine at all.
Pregnancy makes a woman throw up, swell up, get hairier, grow zits, have heartburn, be cranky, sweat copious amounts, and much more. And then there is the delivery - with grunting and screaming (in my case - and I know many others, so don't deny it), blood, a squishy baby, the placenta, and lots more fluids. And of course, in the weeks following delivery -- there is daily bleeding for weeks on end, the stinkiest armpits I've ever had, sticky breastmilk spewing and dripping all over the place, cheering on my son's farts and burps (though never the dog's), not enough time to shower, and bags under the eyes.
How could motherhood have so many seemingly opposing elements? Such beauty and grace on one side, and such "grossness" on the other side? I've determined that not only are women are a hell of a lot stronger than they get credit for -- and no man will ever, ever completely understand that -- but also, that all of those things must be feminine.
Because all of those things mean women are pushed to the very edge of everything they have within themselves. It means we go until we don't think we could ever go any further, and then somehow, we find this hidden reserve of strength we never knew we had, and we just push on. And I'm not just talking about labor and delivery, though that is obviously a large part of it. I'm also talking about taking care of a newborn. Somehow functioning on dinky amounts of sleep, not screaming alongside your child as he wails in your face and you don't have any clue how to help him, dealing with hormones rapidly diminishing and shifting and completely throwing off your groove.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that labor, delivery, and now parenthood, are the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Probably will ever do. And I never liked reading that on other women's blogs after they had a baby - it scared me too much and I didn't want it to be hard. I wanted it to be natural and easy --- but, aside from loving your child so much you fear your heart is going to burst --- none of it is natural or easy. At least not for me. Those three things have made me question my very being - who I am, what I am capable of, what I can actually accomplish versus what I think I can. These experiences have pushed me past all that I thought possible - and yet here I am, still going. It's a lot to take in in 4 short weeks. And it's not over yet -- It still hurts to poo, it hurts to pee, it hurts to lie on my side or stand on my feet too long, and I'm sick of wearing sticky pads that rub all funny no matter what position I am in. I'm still way too fluffy to fit into any of my clothes, my boobs and nipples have never been so exposed and at times it makes me feel like I'm not even a person anymore, and I cry when I shower, because that's the best time to do it.
It's completely incredible the things God has women go through for their children. And I know He made it this way because not only does sacrificing make us love deeper and truer, but He knows we can handle it. And I think that's the most feminine part of it all: Us women? We can do hard things.
Something else that's been on my mind is breastfeeding. I have always had a weird..."thing" about my breasts. I don't know why, probably because they are small and I'm self-conscious about that? I don't know....I just am kind of scrunchy-nosed about them (scrunch up your nose....that's how I feel about them) (Sidenote: Collette, in answer to your question about being completely exposed during delivery --- it didn't bother me so much that my hoo-ha was all up in their faces, for some reason. I guess I was just so intent on getting Axton out that modesty flew out the window. However, I was embarrassed about having my boobs exposed - go figure). And so I was worried about how I would feel about breastfeeding. In the three days following Axton's birth, I'm pretty sure I was naked about 99% of the time. There was no point in wearing a shirt I would be taking off in an hour, and no point in wearing pants when I was icing my crotch anyway. This is not very typical of me, and even my mom was pretty surprised to see so much of me (not that she cared, she just knew I'm not usually so..."Free"). Anywho.
But lately, it's gotten to the point where I feel like I am always exposed and it just makes me feel like less of a person (like I said above). Sometimes I can't always clip things back together right away and so I'm just hanging out all over the place and I feel absolutely ridiculous. And it gets so sticky and messy and tricky sometimes and it's frustrating! And sometimes I feel like I'm producing too much and sometimes too little and I just want to point to them and say in a scolding voice, "Regulate yourselves already!!!!"
And it's both sweet and terrifying that I am the only one who can feed Axton. That I am completely in charge of his most basic need for food. Sometimes I am so exhausted I just want to cut my breast off and hand it to Adam and say, "Please don't be jealous that he stops crying when I feed him. It has nothing to do with me. You give it a try and you'll see." and then I'd run away real fast and go take a nap.
But I recently discovered how much it really does mean to me to be able to do this for my son. I was talking to my mom the other day about some symptoms I have and she said I should go to the doctor. The next time I took a shower, I started crying thinking that they would have to give me medicine and I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. I was absolutely SHOCKED at the guilt that poured over me thinking that I might have to give him formula for a week or two. I was so hurt that he was going to have to turn to another source, that my body could have the potential to hurt him. I couldn't believe how attached I had gotten to breastfeeding, and how disappointed I felt in myself at the thought of not being able to do it.
And I really hate that I am a perfectionist and that I am so hard on myself. I've read 4 parenting books in the last 4 weeks, trying to figure out the best way to take care of my baby. It's so difficult to have to decide:
Am I going to hold and cuddle and kiss my son to sleep right now? Or let him sleep next to me in bed all night long so I can hear his sweet breathing? Because I know he will only be this small for such a short time?
.....Or am I going to put him down in the bassinet while he is still awake and let him fall asleep on his own so he can develop "healthy life-long sleep habits"?
It literally tears me up inside sometimes, that seemingly simple question. And it's not just with sleep - it's almost every decision I have to make with him. Am I going to give him a pacifier, feed him an hour early, let him sleep, wake him up, how to make him stop crying?????.......and I am so dang paranoid about doing it "right" and it hurts when I don't know how to stop his tears and I wish it were easier and came more naturally or more instinctual, but it's really just a learn as you go kind of thing.
So you see, it is a complete rollercoaster, this motherhood ride. Inside and out, it is hard stuff. But, in case you couldn't tell through my writing, it's hard because I love him so much. Because I want to do it right and make him happy. And I'm going to wrap up this stream of consciousness with a lovely cliche ---
It's hard -- but oh-so worth it.
(and now I'm going to publish this without even reading over it because otherwise I might not ever share this)
2 years ago