"Will you come with me?" Part 1
This morning began earlier than I would've liked with a chatty babe shortly after 6am. My eyes fluttered open and I think I sighed while lifting my head off the pillow. When I walked into his room to nurse him, I knew he was up for the day. A leaky diaper, kicky feet, and an earnest little face. Good morning, my son.
The morning proceeded much like any other school day. I plunked Bryn in Zoey's bed at 7:45 and her usual groans were short lived. It's a trick I've learned to awaken her: place her baby brother next to her, and even his strong pats cause nothing more than a happy but groggy, "Hi, Buddy!" There was the usual amount of lolly-gagging and a bit of, "For the last time, get in the van," from me, but she was dropped off with a full belly, clean clothes, and the weekend on the horizon.
I came home, lit a fire in the wood stove to warm Jude and I on this Fall morning, and settled Bryn down for his nap. He surrendered easily to sleep. "That's what happens when you're up with the birds," I thought to myself as I opened my laptop while slurping my second cup of coffee of the day.
I've been making my way through the pictures I took during the earliest days with our third baby--Bryn Haakon, my second son. The emotions still feel raw, and yet graciousness clings to the edges like dew. Here I am, 8 months into this journey of mothering 3 and sometimes when I open the van doors, I still hear infant wails in the distance. It is a bit haunting and tears often prick the corners of my eyes, but things also feel so different. It has been nearly 7 months since I stood in my own kitchen, surrounded with those closest to me, with my head on my Mom's shoulder; sobbing and drowning and quivering in fear.
I feel like Bryn was that blissful "sleepy newborn" for a grand total of 12 hours. He is our first baby to be born at home with our midwife and his birth was fast, furious, and painful, but nothing really out of the ordinary. "You bled a lot, make sure you eat well, rehydrate, and rest. Let's get her something to eat," our midwife said with a discreet yawn, tucking in our newest babe next to Arden and I. Our own bed, a still household, and fervent prayers of gratitude and praise still rising. Oh, those first holy and high moments with a newly birthed baby. The early morning winter sun was gleaming as she packed up her bag and exited. A list of postpartum care directions was left on the counter and she reassured us that she would return that evening. It was another labour under 4 hours with afterpains that hurt like hell, but all-in-all, a completely normal delivery. I remember holding Bryn, after all was said and done, and his eyes immediately locked with mine. He was born awake to the world, and that was a completely new and surprising beginning for me.
The first two weeks as a family of 5 were lovely. They were slow and enraptured days littered with family introductions and a revolving fridge door of nourishing and generous meals from our community. I don't think we left the house at all, except to drop off and pick up Zoey from school. We were weary but things felt manageable for the most part. The nights were the most challenging. Bryn would wake to nurse but rarely settle back to sleep easily. I remember the day my milk came in, he nursed and finally contentedly slept, and all was well.
It felt very short lived as Arden returned to work and real life set in. Days became weeks of rarely leaving the couch. Bryn hardly slept, except while nursing and I began to feel terribly anxious at my seemingly inability to settle my fussy baby. Arden walked and walked and walked with him when he was home but Bryn's cries kept me from sleeping and from being willing to hand him off to anyone else. If he was discontent, it must've been because he was hungry. Sustaining and soothing him began to consume me. Fear and anxiety was nipping at my heals. I shook and fretted every time he was weighed and threw myself into infant care, alone and afraid.
(to be continued)
*4 out of 5 women experience a change in mental health after childbirth. This is my experience with Post Partum Mood Disorder (PPMD). If you are a Mom and are not feeling yourself, I strongly urge you to tell someone. If you are alone, take your child with you and walk into the closest ER. Your feelings are real and valid and there is care and support waiting for you.