Thursday, January 09, 2014

Early weeks of motherhood

In the first few weeks after I delivered bub, I felt as though a truck had run over me but somehow left me with a very cute baby. I was dazed, sleepless, in pain, exhausted and with just about enough sense to recognise the joy of finally bringing bub into the world. Life was a blur of feeding and nappy changing with a background score of a lot of crying.

People often ask me what motherhood feels like but that’s in fact a very difficult question to answer. It’s a great joy of course but it’s also a whole lot of other things - anxiety, frustration, fun, responsibility, sacrifice, patience, fortitude, endless learning and much more - that makes motherhood something greater than the sum of all those things. So for me, motherhood is crystalised in those moments where many of these emotions just come together into something sublime and divine that words can’t fully capture.

It was probably Day 3 in bub’s life, at some late hour after the sun had gone down and bub was wailing with all the power his little lungs could muster. He was absolutely tiny - a little bundle of stick limbs, all of 3 kilos hidden in oversized clothes. The only thing that seemed to console him was staying skin to skin with mummy. That night, before pulling him close, I held him on my lap for a few seconds to look into his face, into his beautiful eyes and tell him to calm down. Bub has always had very alert eyes and a clear gaze from the time he was born and he suddenly stopped crying and looked back at me with an expression of desperate neediness and bewilderment at the bright lights of the world he had just entered. His big eyes were saying “HELP”.

It was a moment that words can’t quite capture. My heart broke at the fragility of the life in my arms but soared with joy at the fact that being in mummy’s embrace was going to make everything better for him. I was anxious and frustrated about his crying, but trying to be patient with this helpless little thing, sacrificing much needed rest to soothe him.

The joy of motherhood is crystalised in such moments. The early weeks are just plain hard and it’s very difficult to marvel at the life-changing experience you’ve just had. But a lot of mums had told me to consciously enjoy this miracle through all the pain and sleep deprivation and I’m so glad to have received that advice.

Bub is now nearly 17 weeks old and motherhood is so, so much more fun, now that he is cooing and gurgling back at my silly faces and baby talk.

I don’t want the difficulty of those early weeks back but they were such a special part of the bond that mum and bub establish, where every last drop of your energy goes into comforting and loving the new life you’ve just created.