Powerful currents, wild storms and thick beds of seaweed hinder the clarity of the ocean. The turbulence challenges even the olympians of swimmers, at the mercy of something much bigger than the self. This is akin to the first year of motherhood, which I can check off. I am finally resurfacing from stormy waters and regaining my sense of self.
The primary year of parenthood is tumultuous. My work was letting go of any plan and allowing a tiny, fragile being to run the show, who seemed to poo an awful lot. My abused body was taken advantage of at all hours for milking. I was fearful and anxious, worried I was doing everything wrong. (I mean, all the books said this, but I was doing that….) I couldn’t believe I had been entrusted with this living, breathing, 5 pound person. As the rainy winter months descended, my self confidence plummeted. I felt like I was failing at everything. My husband was at a loss for how to comfort me, causing even more distance between us.
Parenthood puts a massive strain on partner relationships. There’s no way around it. At the end of the day I felt I had nothing left to give anybody else. I was physically and mentally tapped, as in the absolute bottom of the keg, nothing left but a whisper of air. A year later, I believe Matt’s and my relationship is recovering. We are in more of a routine and able to spend our evenings together, sharing the excitement of our days. When Ruby was 11 months old, Matt and I went backpacking for one night, leaving her in Granny’s capable hands. It felt like the old days-me trying to keep up with Matt, him pointing out various peaks of The Cascade Mountains, us sharing a bottle of malbec and watching the sunset below a Mount Baker glacier.
Sleep was another obstacle. I clung to precious moments of dozing for myself and I fretted about Ruby’s sleep. (Full disclosure- I still fret about this one.) How was the quality and quantity of sleep? Was it a nap or just a continuation of morning sleep? Was it really not sleep if we were walking or driving? Not to mention the bad habits we created from bouncing, nursing to sleep, swaying, singing to sleep, etc. which all had to be corrected. Oh the books, forums, friends, family and websites I consulted about the elusive gift of sleep.
Weathering the first year of motherhood is a significant milestone. I learned in the midst of my sadness and frustration, that it is imperative to recognize the successes. In the beginning I might have simply said, I kept my baby alive another day. Looking at my accomplishments in the present, I see new mom friends, work outside from my daughter cooking and teaching yoga. I see a strong body from long walks and squats wearing a Ruby on my back.
The squall has settled, bringing with it clarity (and 7 hours of uninterrupted nighttime rest!). I predict there is more volatility ahead, but for right now, I’ll settle in here, welcoming back luscious light.