Thursday, September 10, 2015

It's ok to be ok

Having a baby is an emotional experience, no matter what, but for me it's played out quite differently each time. 

With Piper...I was a hot mess. There's really no other way to describe it. I was in a lot of physical pain as I recovered, and wasn't able to be there for her the way I wanted to in those early days. I had help from Dustin and my mom, which was awesome, but I felt so guilty about not being the one tending to her every need. I felt like I wasn't measuring up to the standard or vision I had in mind, and it made me incredibly sad to feel inadequate as a mom. Even as began to feel better physically, I still struggled emotionally. Quite simply, the transition to motherhood was hard for me. I loved my girl, of course, but I struggled to feel like me and then struggled further with feeling bad about feeling bad (what a vicious cycle). Everyone said to give it time, so I tried to be patient with myself. There were tons of fantastic moments during those first few weeks, but there were also a lot of tears- of uncertainty, fear, guilt, and sheer exhaustion. Thankfully, time healed those wounds, and the new mom fog began to lift around the eight week mark. I started to feel more sure of myself, and comfortable in my new role. I was forever changed, but found a little more balance, as I settled into our new normal.

With Fin...I was better. Physically I was in a much better spot, and while I certainly shed my fair share of tears, it wasn't irrational, inconsolable weeping. I recognized and understood the crazy hormone flush that comes with the newborn territory, so I just allowed it, and waited for it to pass on by (which it did, much more calmly and quickly than the first time). It was still a tough adjustment though. Two kids was massively overwhelming for me. Piper was still so needy, and I had a tough time feeling confident in my ability to handle them both on my own. I again felt inadequate as I worked to keep up with everything, and feel capable as a mom. But once again, time moved on, and we all got more comfortable, and the struggles eased. 
So each experience was different, but had some of the same themes...and what I remember most from the very early days with each of my girls, was feeling emotionally raw. I felt fragile- which is not something I'm typically prone to. This mostly manifested itself as crying, but one of the unexpected upsides, is that it made me more introspective. Yes, I was over analyzing things and worrying too much at times, but connected to that, I was also just so much more thoughtful and aware. I remember having so much to say and think and record...I wanted to write constantly because I had so many feelings and new perspectives, I didn't want to forget a single second of this fleeting time. I learned to be vulnerable in that space and I loved the way words poured out easily. I was sappy and sentimental, yes, but also constantly inspired. I was overwhelmed with things to express and share. I journaled, and blogged, snapped endless photos and over-grammed my heart out. And in so many ways, it felt good to be so deeply into something that I could barely see out. I was consumed- overwhelmed, but also fully invested. My heart was stretching and my brain was full.

And now with Miller? I'm definitely feeling some of that familiar sensitivity, but overall..I'm ok. It's not that everything has been perfect, and without struggle (certainly not), but for the most part, the transition has been easier this time around. I feel much more confident as a mom, and where I do feel some soft spots, I'm more forgiving of myself. I've still gotten a little weepy at times, especially in the first week, but I've gotten better at just absorbing the new challenges and moving through them.

But along with that confidence comes a slight level of detachment. I'm not clinging to my baby, terrified of the passage of time. My emotions and thoughts are more controlled, and in a strange way I almost feel wistful for the internal dramatics. A part of me feels like being slightly nutty means I cared more. I worry that my more managed approach to my emotions (and more reasonable number of sleeping baby snapshots) this time around means I'm not as hopelessly in love as I was previously. If I'm not constantly examining my feelings and publicly waxing poetic, am I short changing how much this baby means to me? 

It seems like recently there has been a lot of emphasis and significance connected with "doing hard things". Especially in motherhood, we encourage each other through "the trenches" and lament all the struggles of parenthood. We become connected to platitudes about beauty in the messy, and tend to elevate even everyday experiences to big opportunities for learning, growth and deep "hearts walking outside our bodies" type of thoughts. 

And all of that community and encouragement is good! But it shouldn't mean that the converse scenario, the quiet calm and relative fine-ness of everyday life, isn't perfectly ok. Uncomplicated isn't bad. Just as things don't have to be perfect to be beautiful, things also don't have to be tough to be valuable. 

In some ways I'm thinking of this third baby as a marriage vs. a whirlwind romance. And with Dustin, I've had both- In our early days of dating, we were both head over heels and in over our heads. Everything was packed with sweet sappy smitten love. We were twitterpated. We adored each other, but this devotion combined with our relationship's immaturity translated to big feelings- big ups and big downs. We were still learning to navigate our life together, and there was a lot of uncertainty and tough lessons along the way. It made for a sweet season of growth but it was also an unsustainable place. As we entered into marriage, and the years went on, we settled into a new groove. One still filled with deep, strong love, but characterized by a more steady rhythm, with fewer dramatic peaks and dips. I didn't love my husband less, I just loved him differently. And that is ok. 

And so it goes with our third baby. My love for Miller is a steady, strong love, but it doesn't threaten to consume me. I still can't get enough of his sweet smelling head (baby head smells- they're kind of my weakness) but I'm not completely undone by his presence. He's come into our family more seamlessly than I expected, and while we certainly have adjusting to do, we're also not teetering on the edge of what we can manage. We're pretty much...ok. I sometimes miss the outpouring of inspiration and sentimental recordings that come with the tidal wave pattern of emotions, but I know those things are not what define me as a mother. My love for each of my children is different, and changes through the stages. Sometimes my world is rocked, and it's all I can do to hold on...and sometimes things are just ok. Blissfully ok


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