Saturday, September 19, 2009

Words for a new mom

Baby H has fallen asleep on my chest. I'm bouncing gently as I'm seated on the couch in this motion that is automatic and familiar. His Mommy is observing me with that exhausted haze of new motherhood that I've forgotten but is also familiar. Moments flash back to me, like when a relative showed up in the hospital and rocked Lucas in the crook of her arm and laid him down to sleep, and Hubby and I almost cried in gratefulness and then shooed her off so we could sleep. Then when Amy came by up at two weeks in and took Lucas into her arms and bounced and swayed in this figure 8 motion, I felt like I should take notes.

I recall 7 weeks too, when Lucas was like little Baby H, when Amy's mother-in-law took him from me at a party and happily entertained him and put him to sleep. I just sat stunned in this green armchair unsure of what to do with myself, but so very very relieved. Just before leaving, I'd dissolved into tears with Hubby, as he went to study and I headed to this party to escape being alone. "I can't do this anymore," I cried. "I don't care about your masters - it's not worth it!" I screamed.

I don't know if Baby H's Mommy is feeling like I did, I don't know if I'm projecting my old fears on her, but I think I see a glimpse of it in her eyes. I want to find the right words to tell her, to soothe her. Instead I say useless things like, "how are you doing?" and she tells me she's fine, and "how's he doing?" and she says all the right things. And I know she's worrying if he's sleeping enough, and I know she's judging herself if she's picking up his cues or not. And I want to tell her, "everything you're doing is just right", but I don't think she'll hear that because it can't feel right, not when you're wandering in this haze feeling like you can't get a handle on things. I want to tell her, "you guys will figure it out", but instead I tell her what I did to figure it out, and it sounds like unasked for advice.

So, I hold Baby H instead, and maybe give her a moment to just be. And I drink in his sweet new baby head smell, and our hearts beat against each other, and I am transported to that magical place that new babies take you, that do make it all okay. Around us, my 2.5 year old is playing with the two other boys and us three moms take turns threatening and bribing our kids, complaining about their behaviour, and comparing notes on the things they say. We've lost sight of that magical place, but we've also stopped trying to get it right or figure it out and are learning to just let it be. It is definitely not so hard or isolating as it was at 7 weeks.

Part of me wants to swoop down and save Baby H's Mommy - from the sleeplessness, the self-criticism, the neverendingness of it all. But part of me also knows it's her journey to have and no one can do it for her. She has everything inside her to push through, and Baby H knows what he wants and will make it known. So, I guess if I could tell her something, it would be just that - trust him and trust yourself. And it's not easy, and you can ask for help, and it does get better, and you will find your way. Just trust him and trust yourself.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant Liesl - and I think back to my midwife's advice - "just love your baby"


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