Friday, April 08, 2011

starting a life

IMG_9933As you can probably tell from the posts this month on the blog….I am a birth junkie.  I love giving birth.  I love the pain and intensity of it, I love how real everything is, how alive you feel.  I love the challenge of it, the preparation, the connection with other women…..you get the idea, don’t want to be too redundant here. 

My little secret that I haven’t fessed up to is that one of the reasons I’m sure I like birth so much is that I get a lot of positive attention for the work I’m doing as I go into and through labor.  There’s glory there, everyone showering me with praises, telling me what an awesome job I’m doing, how strong I am, how capable my body is….I’m even telling myself these things over and over again.   Everyone listens to me and is focused on me and I get to act however I want and say whatever I want.  I’m surrounded by people who are forgiving of anything I do, accepting me even if I’m not composed or kind, encouraging me, cheering me on.  I am queen. 

And then, after a few days coasting on the highs of all that birthing glory and drinking in the beauty of new life, reality sets in.  My body is empty and exhausted (and un-showered, sweaty, stinky, engorged and leaking).   My brain has turned to mush.  My emotions are a wreck.  I’m cranky and unkind and my patience is nearly non-existent.  And I start complaining and wallowing.  

I never feel prepared for this part.   Sure, toward the end of pregnancy I remind myself it’s going to happen and going to be hard.  But I’m always a bit shell-shocked by the reality of it all. 

I have a great post partum team, my mom, Jeff, Jeff’s mom, great friends who are helping on every front.  But, in the middle of the night when I’m up with a gassy baby, so tired that I can hardly lift up the little guy, no one is sitting by my side, holding me hand and telling me how totally awesome I am.  During the day my kids aren’t standing around me in awe at how I’m handling the pain of those first few seconds of nursing, telling me how great I’m doing.   And I’m certainly not telling myself many positive things (I’m mostly feeling pretty sorry for myself and pretty lame that I can’t keep everything together).   I don’t feel much glory in the work I’m doing.  I mostly feel, well, empty and exhausted. 

Sometimes exhaustion brings me my best thoughts and this is the one I had the other night as I was up nursing:  post partum work is every bit as hard and demanding as childbirth, and it’s also just as important and stretching and amazing…….and I need to treat it that way.  Somewhere in my journey through motherhood I’ve decided to revere childbirth.  I need to attach the same importance and glory and respect to the work I’m doing right now.  I need to recognize what this challenge is doing to me….how it’s connecting me to my baby, how it’s making me stronger, more resilient.  How it’s stretching me and connecting me to mothers all over the world.  How it is giving me experience.  Sure, I’m sacrificing a lot right now….but, holy cow…..I’m helping a new little soul start off a life.  I’m helping him understand his body and the world and how the two connect.  My face and voice and chest and his gastrointestinal tract are his entire universe right now.   And this little soul, fresh from god is totally reliant on me to navigate this new territory.

Grace.  Through a lot of preparation, education, mental exertion and some really lucky good genetics I feel like I’ve figured out the path for me to graceful childbirth.  I want to be able to bring the same grace to the labor I’m doing right now.  Mostly I think that means I need to suck it up, stop seeking all that glory.  Accept that things are going to be hard and sleepless and squalid.  I’m going to smell like spit up and have a nice little mommy gut and big bags under my eyes for a while.  And my kids are going to watch TV.  But what I’m doing is pretty amazing.  The sacrifice is small when you look beyond it to what I’m actually doing.    I’m starting off a life. 

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20 comments:

charity said...

I LOVE THIS SO S SO MUCH AND I LOVE YOU SO SOSO SO x1000000 please move here I need to live by you again. cant wait to see you
xoxoxoxox

Myrnie said...

I love this... Our littlest is just 9 weeks old, I can relate!

Becky said...

that was a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing that insight. :)I love it

Sweating in the endless heat said...

This was so perfectly written! I love how you write and express what is going on. I know that ALL of us moms here in this world can relate to everything you have shared. Thank you!

Sarah said...

I am a birth junkie too...and I crash and burn at about 6 weeks. I think EVERY TIME that THIS time will be different...I won't be so tired, I will keep up, I will lose my pregnancy weight and dress in cute clothes, I will be kind and loving every minute, I will take time to relax, and the biggest-I will ask for help.
And every single time (FIVE!), I realize that my expectations are just ridiculous..after of course I end up disappointed and frustrated in myself. I have gotten a little more realistic with each one, but not enough.
I love your posts about birth, and newborns, and adjustment...you are so REAL!

Buscando la Luz said...

Beautiful. LOVE it.

Katrina said...

saw the link from birth faith on facebook.... this is beautiful! thanks for being so honest. :)

LizzyP said...

Saydi, you are doing awesome. Still. I'm so glad you wrote this post about feeling not-so-awesome postpartum feelings--it is a message of hope and faith that I should print out and give to all of my friends who are in that sleepy phase of mothering.

One thing that I love about that phase personally is that I feel like I can totally relate to my baby. There they lay, exhausted, sometimes uncomfortable, always unable to really express what they need or want. Babies and moms just work it out at that point of the game, together.

Love all your photos. I wish I could come over with flowers and an hour of activities for your kids so you could shower and go for a walk.

Debbie M. said...

Sister Shumway!! I don't know if you remember me, Debbie Cunha (Tallita) .. It's so funny because a couple of months ago my husband and I were watching videos on mormon.org and when we watched Shaunie's video I kept thinking wow she reminds me a lot of my seminary teacher. You taught us at the Revere chapel.. remember? Well, Needless to say I have been following your sisters blog, and only last week I mentioned to my mom how much she reminded me of you. There was just something about her spirit and the way she writes. It is such a small world, but I love how things work and how Heavenly father connects us through the gospel. Congratulations on the baby by the way. He's a cutie! Xoxo.. -Debbie.

Barbara C. said...

Yes, I can totally relate! I've had a couple of those days when I've felt so morose, because I've spent the whole day cleaning up human waste (and giving the input to create that waste). But you're right: we're helping little lives to get started. xo

Eyrealm said...

What an incredible post! Loved every thought! Two people told me about this before I got a chance to read it Fantastic way to say we need to enjoy life...especially the hard stuff. And even more especially the hard stuff that is changing the world one little person at a time!

Cath said...

"Accept that things are going to be hard and sleepless and squalid. I’m going to smell like spit up and have a nice little mommy gut and big bags under my eyes for a while. And my kids are going to watch TV." I have SO been there. I completely relate and love this post Saydi. But you are so right. What's really going on is triumphantly beautiful. Starting a life is unspeakably precious, noble, and godly. And that pic just makes me love you all the more!!! Hang in there through these early days. DC 84:88

Amy P said...

What a wonderful well written post. You've got me really thinking and pondering about a lot, as I am due with my fourth baby in 10 weeks.

Erika said...

I read this post in the newspaper in your parent's article. I just wanted to tell you that it made me cry. I have 4 little ones, my oldest just turned 5 so yikes it's busy. I could give birth over and over again because it is so awesome (and you wrote exactly how I feel about it!) but this is now the hard part and just as important if not more. I was just feeling overwhelmed yesterday and snapping at my kids, etc. and your post made me feel all warm and fuzzy as I was eating my cereal at 1:00 p.m. today. Thank you!

shawni said...

This is SO beautiful, Sayds! Life has been so crazy lately that I haven't had a chance to catch up on blog life and then Courtney from cjanerun was the one who told me how awesome this post is. And she was right. You are amazing. Sure love you!

korylloyd said...

I love what you have written here. I, too, am a childbirth junkie, but have never given much thought to the postpartum period. (Actually, my last baby is 10 months old and still feeding a couple of times per night, so it still applies in a small way.) Anyway, thank you for opening my eyes to this idea of revering the harder parts of early motherhood. And I enjoyed reading your birth story- it was beautiful!
(linked from your parents' Mormon Times article)

Mama Wisch said...

You and I are kindred spirits! My mother-law reads the Mormon times and your fathers article about this blog post made my mother-in-law think of me...which made me happy!! I agree with every single word of your post. I LOVE giving birth.. I LOVE midwives..mean while all my friends hate pregnancy and birth.. Thanks to you I feel fabulously normal!! Much Love to you and your sweet family and here's to hoping for more than a four hour chunk of sleep at night!

Cynthia said...

I love what you said here! And it's amazing how much we think next time will be different too... My next birth is coming up in Sept/Oct. If you don't mind, I quoted and linked you on my blog along with my thoughts on the matter. http://www.naturalbirthandmothering.com/129/what-they-didnt-tell-me-about-postpartum/

carrielyshous said...

I copied your post to my blog too, because it's all so true! I only have one baby and it's overwhelming. Thanks for your insights.

melanie headley said...

Just wanted to let you know that we mentioned this particular blog post in our podcast about natural birth, postpartum, mamahood, etc. in our episode 6. You can find it on iTunes at The Tribecast or through our Facebook page or on Twitter @thetribecast. Just thought you'd like to know! ~~ The Tribecast

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