Next week my youngest is 'one'. In my secret mother-place I know he is more than one year old, that he was alive and kicking and aware a lot earlier than the day he was born. But the anniversary
of his birth feels important. As it approaches, I am aware of a transition in our relationship, a big change in the delicate balance between mother and child.
My thoughts turn to this time last year more and more. I recall the heaviness of the end of the pregnancy, the soft awareness and slow-motion, the being in a bubble, the ice cracking in puddles under my swollen feet. I remember the quiet refusal to set up the birthing pool until the due date itself; that up until that point I had not even been able to think of the birth. I remember struggling to carry wood to the stove, thinking how wonderful it would be when the weight was gone and the strain on my body released. I feeling the 21st of that month would be a 'good birthday' therefore it must be the day of the birth. And so it was.
Now as the end of this year approaches, I see the tendrils that attach the little one and I begin to loosen. He is learning to walk and cares less and less about being constantly close. His awareness has widened out into the world; he is engaged with everything differently, less baby, more toddler. He is not interested in feeding and pushes me away as often as he seeks my arms. He sleeps longer and better; wakes happier and hungrier for substance.
The first year is a peculiar kind of rollercoaster. Two months ago, I would not have been able to gather the thoughts to write this. For a long time it was like a bomb exploded and only now the debris is settling, I can suddenly look around and see things. Apparently I am a mother of two. My body has knitted back together, stronger and softer than before. Every now and then my heart sings in pride and joy, rather than feeling numb and overwhelmed. I look at my children and my eyes shine at theirs; I can see vibrant and healthy beings rather than ten reasons why I am so tired. I am pretty sure it is not like this for everyone, but it has been the case for me.
Inside is a deep grief that I have perhaps missed some of the most beautiful times with them, because I have been so exhausted. I feel some anger that it should have to be that way, that the Western world can be so unsupportive in its setup for a new mother. I feel frustrated that that we have to do it so much on our own, without the extra hands of extended family and community. And although I have felt stagnated in a state of just surviving, I now see that much has been brewing under the surface. More than just a child has been created in this time of change; a new part of me has been born and latent potential released. New physical and psychological barriers have been broken. I am returning to teaching and work with new feeling and extensions to what I did before – pregnancy yoga, doula training, deeper experiences of the body and soul to communicate. The way is open to be of more use to the world, not less.
I have struggled through the highs and lows of this year, so many times. There have been points beyond exhaustion, when sleep had become so impossible that I thought it would all never end and that I would never be okay. But things are changing. My brain is beginning to be able to finish thoughts. The moments I spend with the little ones are more and more filled with joy and a sense of being blessed instead sleepy or frazzled. I cautiously feel like going places and doing things, and the tears that came so easily each day or week are further and further away. The craziness is ending and a new life has formed in its wake. I have reached the other side and understand more about the universe, life and myself. The little one is strong and healthy and I can see that is due to some of my hard work. I know this year has been intense and motherhood has seemed like it is too much at times. But everything is actually all right. We made it.
Birth After Birth, Fife, Perth & Kinross, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK