Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Birth, AKA life's big "transition" (pardon me, "abrupt 2000 foot drop" or "teleportation to an alien planet") is really hitting me these days. So much has changed in the last two weeks.

From the very moment that Jack slid out of me, I've been flooded with good endorphins. I assume this is nature's way of correcting the "fuck you" of late pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. These endorphins do amazing things... They give me energy. They expand my patience and optimism. They instill in me instant, intense love for my newborn son. Such rapid and irrational postpartum love is necessary for the survival of our species; why else would women continue to procreate?

This maternal love is quite different from the other kinds of love I've known in my life. It has almost no identifiable source, but it strengthens with a speed that surprises me. When Jack first came into this world, I was smitten. I wanted to drink him in: his round little face, his lovely baby smell, each one of his 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes, the way his silky hair would nestle into my collarbone. I wanted to kiss him all over and snuggle him tight. When he was sleeping in my arms, he was the most perfect being I'd ever known. Yet, when he cried at 3am, I cried too. When he couldn't be comforted, I felt like a failure. When he needed to nurse, I wished he didn't (the pain!). When I had a whole day with him to myself, I felt ill equipped and exhausted. Motherhood, that 24/7 state of being needed by a little creature that is otherwise perfectly helpless, overwhelmed me. This tiny being wanted me, and only me -- but I didn't believe it. I doubted that I was the best one for the job.

Like all good crushes, my relationship with Jack had to move forward to survive. The good news is that mother nature, with her endless cocktail of endorphins, seems to have planned for this next phase quite well, because my infatuation with Jack is being steadily replaced by an unconditional bond. Today, at 2 weeks and 3 days, Jack and I had a whole day to ourselves. Not only did I manage it just fine... there wasn't a single moment that I felt overwhelmed. The whole day felt right, even when he needed to nurse on the painful side, even when he cried inconsolably, even when he wanted to be held for 3 hours straight. It was all OK.

I don't imagine that every day will feel so "right" to me. I am sure of being overwhelmed at least 10 more times before the week is out. Still, today felt like a turning point for us. In a strange way, I am looking forward to turning off my laptop tonight. Jack will have me up in a few hours. I'll be nursing and changing diapers and burping him more than once before the next day starts. But I'm just so excited about the next day.

Cheers to Jack, and to the years of getting to know each other that we have ahead of us

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