For almost a month now I've been meaning to write when I have a moment but then said moment winds up being so fleeting between nursing and napping and procuring coffee and (God willing) sneaking in a shower. As I've been riding the wave of this early baby time (more like trying not to drown), I've been attempting to gather my thoughts about it. I don't know how I could ever be concise about what this experience means to me so far. It's a million fragmented thoughts and feelings swimming around inside my brain and heart. At this point, I can definitively say this: It's the hardest and most glorious thing I've ever done in my entire life. And also this: Whoever designs baby clothes with BUTTONS is a thoughtless asshole.
This new motherhood thing involves so many simultaneous extremes that to process even one of them is impossible. There's the profound, heartbreaking miracle that this little guy is here after all these months (years!), and the recovery from the huge mental, emotional and physical experience of childbirth. There's the ragged and thrilling haze of the hospital stay, and the sobering realization that you are suddenly and completely responsible for a helpless, tiny human. Pepper in some profuse hormone-balancing night sweats, someone sucking your virgin nipples raw every two hours around the clock, and then top it all off with a massively heaping dose of sleep deprivation. It's like first love, finals week, base jumping, jet lag, boot camp, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, and being awake during your own open heart surgery. You want to grit your teeth and get through it and simultaneously savor every second.
When you're about to become a parent, the party line is either Oh My God, It's Nonstop Bliss! or Get Ready, Your Life Is Over! The problem is each of those clichés individually does a disservice to both the experience and the new mother. In my sleepy, overwhelmed haze (even while consciously knowing it's all being lived through the filters of sleepless nights and haywire hormones), I cried to my own mom this week about all of it. After yearning for so long to get pregnant, I thought that every single second should be utter bliss, that I was an ingrate if a moment felt impossibly difficult. She lovingly comforted me. "Oh darling, all that you're feeling is crazy and okay and totally normal," she said. "Welcome to the agony and ecstasy of motherhood."
I get it now. The pain and the bliss aren't mutually exclusive. They intermingle into something that has its own unique label, its own custom blend, moment to moment.
You know what is pure ecstasy in this moment? This gorgeous little four-week-old face, baby clothes that feature snaps, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.