Tuesday, June 8, 2010

on being a mother

I don't really think of myself as a mother. I mean I AM in every sense of the word, but when I think "oh I'm not feeling like a very together person today," it's just that. Person, not mother (though it's usually the result of having a baby). But I had this little epiphany last week in the yoga class I like to go with Dashiell on Thursdays. So if you would humor me for a moment, I'm going to actually write something not related to any particular picture or event or project.



(Dashiell does happy baby on his changing table. He is already an advanced baby yogi.)

This yoga class is a pre and post-natal class and I started going to it towards the end of my pregnancy, once I'd finished working. And it's great. There's a nice mix of pregnant mamas and women with their babies and especially towards the end of pregnancy it's so inspiring to see the little people rolling around before your little person comes to greet you.

Class always starts with everyone saying their name, how far along they are or how old their baby is, and generally answering a question posed by a member of the class or asked by the teacher. Thursday's question was simple... birth class: where, when, and whether you liked it. So we all went around and one of the last women to speak was Marie, who was officially due the following day.

She started to tear up a bit and I thought it might just be that her emotions were getting the better of her as she hit her due date. I remember getting a little teary at the same point. Saying "I'm due today!" and being a bit overwhelmed by what that really meant. But she starting talking, choking on her words as her tears started streaming, and she started to tell us about her birth class that she took at the hospital a few months ago and how supportive and positive all the nurses were. But that in the last two months with only her OB to consult with, she hadn't heard anything positive. Just scary things, like she might need to be induced, that her baby was getting too big and that he was now getting too skinny and that generally things were not looking as good as they could be.

And she was so scared. And we were all scared for her. And everyone started to cry. And I realized that only now that I have my baby and I've been through those last few weeks when you're so darn close to meeting him or her, but still a little freaked out that something might go wrong and uncertain about the birth, can I really understand her tears. And how terrible it must be to have your doctor telling you anything but that things are looking perfect and beautiful and that everything is going to be great. And the thing is she knows that there's a 95% chance that everything is FINE. That her baby will come out when he's supposed to and that she will be great and that he will be perfect and healthy. But then she has this doctor who has 40 years of experience telling her "worst case scenario" and she's freaking out, but trying to remember that things are going to be okay.

And I was sitting there thinking what an asshole this doctor is, on one hand, but then remembering that when you're so so close and your baby is fully cooked and ready to come, what if there is something wrong and what if he does need some help to come sooner than later? And that's where you're stuck, in that limbo place of wanting to make the right decision but not having any idea how to do it or what it is.

And see even though I don't know Marie at all, I know her.

I know her because it's in situations like this that you know all mothers and all mothers-to-be. I've learned that it's a connection that is truly unlike any other. And in some way it becomes almost harder to relate to people who aren't yet mothers. (Friends that aren't mamas yet, I still love you to pieces I swear!).

There is nothing in this world or this life that has altered the way I think and act and feel in such a profound way. And so I came to see that I'm a mother in a most real way. That I now experience my life in a way that will never be the same as it was before my son was born. And I wouldn't ever want to go back to the me before now. It's truly who I've been waiting to become, but I couldn't have realized it until I was already here. It changes you into someone who while trying to go on about normal life, (the life you had before when things were easy and you only thought about yourself), into someone who is now fundamentally different. Because there is always always a part of you that is with your child, thinking about your child and knowing that above all else, your child is your priority. That the little stresses and obligations you once felt are so small, so infinitely unimportant when compared to your baby. And everything is compared to your baby because it's now all you know.

So when Marie finished talking, we all got up with our bellies and our babies and we joined in a little huddle around Marie. And as we came together, Sienna, one of the babies, reached out and put her hand on Marie's shoulder and left if there while we gave her a few heartbeats of support. And it was really a beautiful communal moment. That all these women, all these mothers, were there together and connected and moved in a way that none of us would have been before our children were here or one their way. Totally connected. And so that is motherhood for me. A deep deep connection to life, to its frailty and its strength and its beauty and uncertainty all at once; and more importantly to all the women who are on the same beautiful path by your side. We know each other, we do. And of course there's your child, and that is something that a more seasoned, more eloquent writer would have to explain.

It's an extraordinary experience, this motherhood. Highly recommend it.

37 comments:

Caroline said...

what a beautiful and honest post! xo

3LambsStudio said...

Lovely post! I'm not a mother yet, but I hope to be one some day.

Sending good wishes Marie's way, hope she and the baby are happy and healthy!

raena said...

this is such a wonderful post. thank you.

kate and matt said...

My little one is due July 1st and your post is so poignant for me right now.
Everything has been great and easy and on track in my pregnancy and I'm so thankful for that, I still worry and these last few weeks are filled with so much waiting.
Your post is beautiful and I've loved reading your blog as you transitioned into motherhood.
Thanks for the lovely writing.
kate

naturally nina said...

oh so beautifully written... i can't wait to be a mama some day. :)

The Yellow Door Paperie said...

So beautiful, it's true there is this connection to other mothers.

Thank you for this gift today. Wiping my eyes.

Char said...

i agree and i would take it one step further and in any situation, there is usually a time of fear (fear of success, fear of failure, just all kinds of fear) and the more that we can reach out in our "human"ness and support each other in love and understanding, the more power we give ourselves to change the world for the better.

beautiful post

Rebecca B said...

beautiful post! and now it's time to change your sidebar to read "mother" cause you're no longer a mama-to-be -- you're there!

Joslyn said...

this is a beautiful post friend...and so, so true.

motherhood fundamentally changes you. forever.

xo

Erin said...

Wow. Thank you for writing this. I am 2 days overdue. I have been going to what sounds like the same yoga class in venice my entire pregnancy. Its been an amazing class. BC i keep thinking today could be the day, I haven't made it there in a few weeks. Im praying for Marie. We are due at the same time. I will see you there with my little guy very soon!

karole-anne said...

shouldn't post things like this!just kiddin' - I've got tears in my eyes! because you describe it so well. I am a mother for almost 5 months now and it is so freakingly true. about the link and all - and am a French finance lawyer in Paris so... ;)

Gina said...

you really have the most beautiful baby

BACEBO said...

Beautifully written. I couldn't have put my thoughts to words and you did it for me. It's hard for me too to consider myself a MUM most of the time, even though I am, but it's a part of me with which I surprise myself everyday. So thanks for sharing and enabling me to go to bed with something meaningful on my mind (and making me forget that I am exhausted.)
Plus, lot's of love to D from my baby girl, Julia.

Maggie ~ The Freckled Citizen said...

This post makes me tear up in the best way. My husband and I are inching toward the big parenthood decision, and even though our heads will always give us a reason to wait (timing, money, real estate, jobs, you name it), posts like this show me that my heart is ready, and that's the biggest step of all. Thanks for sharing.

Simply Mel said...

The best post I've read in quite some time ~ perfectly written and filled with such heart and soul.

jora said...

so very lovely. my friend holly calls motherhood "the ultimate club." (which is sort of what you're saying here.) i know this much is true: you simply can't understand what it is like to be a mother until you are there. it is truly the best thing you can do with your life.

hannah margaret said...

goodness gracious. what a meaningful post. i'm not a mother...actually no where near it...but this still struck a chord. you're babe is precious. good job (:

georgina said...

That was the most beautiful and eloquent post x

Lobster & Roo said...

Not yet a Mama, but still my inspiration for the day.

Ashleigh said...

What a wonderful post! I have loved your blog for some time, and especially experiencing through my little reader's lens your transition into motherhood. I am due November 8th and I so appreciate your honesty, humor and insight as I navigate this new space of growing another person and how absolutely huge and amazing it is - but at the same time how natural and how it connects me to all the generations of women before us. So much responsibility, so many questions! Thank you for being my mentor without even knowing it. :)

mandiegirl said...

This is so beautiful. I'm not a momma yet, but I just cannot wait until I am, even if it makes me scared, I know it's who I'm supposed to be. :)

lovelymorning said...

Thanks you guys for all your nice comments! I knew you all would relate.

I'm so happy that there are so many pregnant mamas out there who are enjoying my fumbling through the first few months!

And so many experienced mothers whose babes I've been admiring in blogland for some time.

It is the most wonderful club I've ever joined.

Erin - No way!! Desiree's class? Good luck with your last few days! I was 4 days late too so don't fret. I'll see you in a few months when you're ready to brave class again. It took me 11 weeks to get there.

And to those of you not yet there, you will be one day and it will be totally worth the wait.

Katie said...

i love your posts about food...and cute things...
but this honestly just made me tear. I am adopted (because my parents couldn't have children)...and it is my fear, that I will not be able to go through this beautiful and amazing process of carying my child. Hearing stories like this make me in awe of the female body and what we are capable of!!!! You and many of my beautiful mommy friends make me genuinley excited to become one : ) thank you for sharing!!!!

100layercake said...

Thanks so much for opening up about your experiences. As a new mommy-to-be it so inspiring and supportive to hear your stories. It's helping to guide me through each new hurdle with more insight.

love ya! Jillian

Anonymous said...

this is where having a doula can be so wonderful and supportive!!

Barb said...

You are a truly talented writer Kristina. This post made me cry, it was absolutely beautiful.

Allison said...

I love this post - thanks for writing in. I am at week 36 myself, and I cannot wait to feel what you have described!

bigBANG studio said...

Moving post, K. I can't imagine what that fear must be like, or what it must have been like to be a new mother listening to that sweet woman express her fears. Brava, all.

(and we missed you on Sunday, but you can't argue with a displeased newborn!)

simpleblissbycourtney said...

such an inspiring story. i too am expecting and it's so important to have a community of woman that are experiencing something similar.

Fitz said...

What a beautiful post, Kristina! I've never commented but I've been a fan of your blog since stumbling across your chicken coop, and I love reading about your adorable new family. We have no little Fitzes yet, but I'm bookmarking this one for when we do. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Kristina this is a beautifully written post. I have been following your blog since you were preparing to get married. I had my wedding date at that stage but hadn't started organising anything. You're blog gave me wonderful ideas and encouraged me to be more creative for my own wedding. Now that I five months pregnant I find your blog a source of encouragement and exhilaration when reading about your experiences in childbirth and motherhood. Please never stop writing you are a true talent and inspiration to us all.

jones said...

so good to read right now. so very good.

thanks

Jayne said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story! Beautifully written - I can feel the emotion. And yay for yoga!

Anna M said...

I got teary reading this. Thank you for posting this beautifully written piece. My husband and I are currently trying to get pregnant and I can't wait to become a mother.

Peonies and Polaroids said...

This just made my heart a-flutter. You write beautifully.

Abbey said...

this is so true! As a new mom, I totally feel this way -- and am so glad to be so changed! Lovely post.

Anonymous said...

What an honest and moving post. I hope to have that many supportive and loving mamas around me when I am expecting.