The After-Birth: Breaking Into The Mystery
My baby was born safely and with a great story. That I’ll tell later because it’s so detail-filled and because it dredges up lots of intense emotions; we love birth stories because they’re so dramatic, but they’re also really hard to write down right.
His name is not Toby, but that’s what he’ll go by on this journal. His existence right now puts a wild card into every mundane task; every activity is made complicated because he lives. Eating meals consists of one of us eating while the other pacifies the baby. Sleeping has become a pleasurable thing again, but only because it’s interrupted at least once during the night. This entry has gone too long unwritten because any activity on the computer is trumped by Toby’s feedings and diaperings.
The only thing I wrote during my hospital stay was a sentence or two right after the birth: I have had an explosion in my heart because it’s the only way to create a new room for this squirming, chirping, little thing. Right now, that room is occupied with making sure that Toby gets bigger; it will always be busy with action to be sure he has the best chance to succeed.
I have always wondered what that month or so of seclusion consists of, that time period after the birth where a mother simply refrains from going to work or school or church. The baby has an erratic feeding and sleeping routine to the extent that there’s really no routine at all, but I just couldn’t fathom what she did with all that time and what would keep her so apart. What would require her mom to come spend a week or a month with her.
I’ve discovered that Toby’s wild card status has a lot to do with it. He adds an extra dimension of activity to anything and makes even every leisure activity more complicated. I’m also receiving all sorts of relatives and neighbors; there’s some unspoken and previously unknown rule that if you want to see the baby, you ought to come to us. It means meals that fill our fridge without any of our effort, but it also means productivity goes down because visitors are genuinely happy and concerned for you.
I find, a week and a few days after the vaginal birth, that I can’t stand for more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. I’ve had my mom and my husband with me all week–one took paternity leave and one flew up to meet her first grandchild– and even when we do go on shopping outings, they look at me with concern after one store because they don’t want me to over-exert myself. I feel well cared for, in a slightly coddled sort of way. And I do admit that this store was enough and that the other stores can wait while we go home to have lunch.
And nap. Not only do I have sleep deprivation from multiple midnight feedings, my body is also healing from giving birth. I hadn’t considered that before. But on the last day or Just’In’s paternity leave, I can see more clearly how to jiggle the small things I want to do around feedings and diaperings. The mystery of that period of time is unveiled–it is simply a time to readjust the debris left around the explosion. And as my quiet son makes little bird noises, chirps and squawks, I can see how to fit the everyday music around his sounds.