I am convinced that a women's internal clock speeds up after she has children, because this year has past quicker than any other. Motherhood has changed me in ways I could have never predicted. I now understand selflessness but love myself more and am more accepting of who I am. I am walking with intention and am just so happy to be where I am in this moment with my family. I also feel more beautiful and confident despite my new crows feet and curvier thighs. I see these aging signs as evidence that I have lived and I have given birth. I am so grateful for my partner Bryan. Prior to getting pregnant, I held on to petty gripes about our relationship but now, I am just so grateful to have someone in my life that loves me so completely and puts our family first. I believe this to be a rare thing and though this might not be the most important thing to everyone, I know for me, it truly is. Bryan is there for us and makes everyday so wonderful for Wallace. Cue tears to my eyes.
Here are some things I have learned over the past year:
Labor and Body Changes
There are some things about labor and motherhood that no one told me but were pretty significant so I am going to pass those on. Labor is obviously really different for everyone. I am writing my labor story later because it is long and I have so many feelings about it but here are some other experiences. My husband has tried to talk me out of some of these details and said that I don't need to embarrass myself for my blog. I write to you unabashed and proud. Firstly, while I assumed my body would be different post labor, I had no idea how wrecked it would be. Obviously your vagina gets completely destroyed during labor and your stomach is still very large after you give birth but since there isn't a baby, it's soft. It feels like you can push back to your spine without anything stopping you. It is crazy and I found both of these body changes to be really scary at first. Don't freak out. The good news is, the body heals very quickly. I feel like within the last month, business is usual. My hips are a little wider but the other two things that I mentioned are not noticeable at all. Also, I know that everyone says not to look down after labor and I just couldn't listen. I had to look and wow, that is an image that I cannot erase. Huge vagina. This also quickly goes back to normal. But I would try to keep your head up, literally and not look. Oh, and here's something that happened to me that NO ONE told me about and I could only get confirmation from one other person that they had a similar experience. This woman was trying to sell me a sofa so she might have been lying to try to get a sale but anyway, she said that this happened to her as well. I'm call it Feminine Flatulence and it is exactly what is sounds like. Constant queefing. Like for months. One time this happened while I was in line to buy groceries and I didn't know how to react. I wanted to tell the guy checking me out that it wasn't gas, it was just a queef. Bryan assured me this was not an improvement and to just claim gas if this happened again. Anyway, in the rare case that someone is reading this and has the same problem, this too shall pass. No pun intended.
I have written about this previously but every relationship that you have in your life will change after you have a child. Some people will show up, some will disappear and you have to let go of expectations. Children are not everyone's jam and some of your party friends are not going to want to have sober hangs while you nurse your baby. It's okay. They will get there eventually. It's not that they don't love you, they just don't love where you are in your life and probably miss their friend that could stay up past 10 pm. You will find people that want to be present during these early stages. I am lucky to have some really amazing women in my life who have shown up for us since Wallace has been born. This is crucial. Find yourself some good mommy friends as well. These women will help you in ways that you'd never expect. They are your best network and will be able to commiserate with your many new mommy challenges. Attend mommy meet ups in your area. In Los Angeles, my favorite mommy hang is put on by The Mama Circle and I have met some of my favorite mom friends there.
Love and Marriage
Having a child with someone will change your relationship. You will see them in new ways, and love them more but simultaneously like them less. It is bizarre. Your days will become an organized systematic process of efficiency with both partners unable to be present. Your sex life will disappear and then reappear and then go away again. Be patient throughout this process and don't forget that your brain has changed. Your drive will probably return but just be patient with yourself. Making time to be alone with your partner is paramount during the first year after having a child. You will both be sleep deprived, frustrated, over worked, underappreciated and will need to make time to connect. Having a baby is initially, very stressful and it is easy to forget why you love your partner. Bryan is hilarious and we had moments where we forgot how to laugh together. These moments were very fleeting and we usually erupted in hysterics to break the tension but they did happen. I am going to work on making more time for connection with Bryan because I really believe that your relationship has to be solid for your child. Just as you have to love yourself before you love someone else, you have to put a solid partnership before your children. I think it is so important for your children to see their parents happy and I feel really blessed to have a partner that keeps the entire family laughing.
This is undoubtedly a huge lifestyle shift. My daily naps and 8 hour minimum nightly rests were replaced with intermittent sleep spurts. I was not affected by this pattern initially but after 10 months, I hit a breaking point and was really exhausted. Actually, I don't even think there is a word for this type of feeling. I was hallucinating and spacey. I did not have a deep sleep this entire time and it was torturous. If I could repeat the past year, I would take a few days to rest. If you have a network close to you, get help. Have your friends watch the baby so you can nap. Make dad take the baby for a day while you sleep. If I am blessed enough to have another child, this will be a nonnegotiable.
And now for the hippie dippie, new age portion of this post. I knew that Wallace was coming before I found out I was pregnant. I brought home these funky old wall hangings of a boat and a train from a thrift store and I told Bryan "I am manifesting a boy". I was preparing myself for the divine being that would come earth side less than a year later. The bond that I have with my son, is profound and hard to define. I get so much joy from being a mother that I often feel the energy around me. This is a very hard thing to explain but I can say, my vibrations are higher and I am just happier. I understand my mother more now and really understand the relationship that she has with me and my brother. I am so grateful for this experience and now truly understand the word love.
And now, some of our favorite moments from the past year.