Friday, November 6, 2015

seven days later.

A week ago today I was in labor. I'd been laboring gently for a full day and I knew it was finally going to be the day I met out daughter. I was anxious and nervous and wholly unprepared for the shifts my life would take in the week that lie ahead. 

That week and that girl feel like a lifetime ago. 

For me, this first week with a newborn is like wrapping up every single solitary emotion I've ever had and cracking them open one by one, over and over, and letting them drip raw over my heart. 

There is joy. Immeasurable, soul renewing joy. When I first heard the sound of my daughter's cry after hours of long and sometimes frightening labor. When I touch the downy soft hair on her head and breathe in that intoxicating newborn scent and I breathe in the knowledge that she's all mine. When people comment on how beautiful and how strong she is. When I sit with her in the still hours of the night while the rest of the world sleeps and I hear her little breaths, in and out, and I feel my heart swelling to the point of bursting to have this little person in my life. 

There is exhaustion. Emotional and physical exhaustion like I've never known before. In the mere hour or two after delivery when she cried out for food and I realized there would be no one else but me to feed her, even though I desperately wanted rest. In the moments after I've finally gotten her fed and I think of all the things I could get done in the two or three hours I have to myself; the shower I need and the friends I wish I could call and talk to, and all I want is those hours to be spent in deep restful sleep, a concept that seems foreign to me even as I write this. 

There is awe. I am awestruck at what my body did to nurture her for those nine months and then birth her, using every ounce of strength I had to bring her life into the world. When we look at her features, so much like her Daddy, and I marvel at how we created this little tiny human that is pieces of both of us and yet someone entirely new. When I feed her and I think of how my body is continuing to grow her, even noticing after this week her little belly growing rounder and fuller. 

There is fear. So much fear. Sheer terror at the thought that we are responsible for this person's every basic need and she looks to us implicitly for everything. Fear that clouds my reason and makes every decision, from how to swaddle her and the best way to ensure a good latch, feel like a life or death decision with dire consequences if we get it wrong. Fear that I am not equipped for this, for any of it, and there's been a mistake and her real, prepared mother should come and get her before I screw it all up. 

There is gratitude. Overflowing gratitude that she is healthy and I am healthy and that despite my long labor, she was born with no complications. Gratitude for my husband and my Mom, who are not only nurturing me and giving me all the space to let these raw emotions I'm feeling ebb and flow hour by hour, but who are doing all the things that still need to be done despite the presence of such a new, needy little life. 

Last week I was me and this week I am a mother. The weight of that felt crushing this week and there were moments and hours when I thought I might not be able to stand under it. But almost as intense is the incredible overwhelming joy I feel when I think of how lucky I am to get to be Eva's mother and that somehow God trusted me with her little life. So I'm taking the weeks one day at a time and letting the emotions come when they may and crack over me and having grace with myself in the meantime. 

The prevailing emotion today is relief that I made it through the first week of motherhood!


  1. This made me cry. I remember all those feelings oh so intensely. You worded it all perfectly. The joy, the terror, the exhaustion, the new reality, the death of self, the birth of a mother. It is such a ride. Congrats on your beautiful girl, I can't wait to meet her and take care of you. You are finding your mother will take awhile for the emotions to mellow out a bit, though I still cry tears of joy when I hold my little boy in my arms as he sleeps on my shoulder. The fear and terror lessen with time and trust. You got this mama!!!

  2. Perfection is the only way to describe the way you explained that! Every emotion is raw but only understood by a mommy. Every word of this aligns with how I felt. Its beautiful but so real!! As I hold this sweet boy sleeping but smelling quite a garlicky breath from his lunch lol I understand every detail. Welcome to mommy Hood!!