Day 146 - Giving Birth
Three of my girlfriends are having babies right now. One this morning at 1 am, one yesterday and the other likely today or tomorrow. Two boys and one a girl.
I have to say that becoming a mother, the whole entire process, is the most beautifully difficult thing I have ever done. All of it. At each stage, I thought whatever it was I was going through: fatigue, swollen breasts, a tummy so large that I couldn’t even see my shoes let alone tie them, being diabetic and all the related issues with that, delivery, sleepless nights, sore nipples, feeling like my stomach had been permanently turned to bread dough, exhaustion, mind numbing fear, overpowering love, a protectiveness that I had never even know existed, crying all the way home from my son’s first day of daycare (I cried like we had just dropped him off at bootcamp for the marines), first day of kindergarten (crying all the way home again), letting go, not letting go, controlling, not controlling, yelling, not yelling, being able to drop the death watch required for the first few years, not being able to drop the death watch, crying all the way home from my son’s first day of high school, was going to last forever. But it was gone seemingly too soon.
This morning at 1 am my dear friends Hayley and Chris welcomed their own Logan into the world. He is perfect, beautiful and so lucky. He has the best parents any kid could ask for. Hayley and Chris love each other and have spent a great deal of time getting their shit together so that this moment, this child is afforded the best possible family.
I am so grateful that I was the first to know (sorry Chris). Hayley and I were together late one night (late being 8 pm), she was complaining that her breasts hurt and she was so tired. She commented that it was the worst PMS she had had in a long time. I was thinking to myself “this doesn’t sound like PMS at all, it sounds like pregnancy!” I guess my thoughts were visible across my face because she looked at me, kind of with a horrified look, and we both started laughing. She said, “well, I guess I will be stopping by the store on my way home...” I said, “can I be the second to know?” She said, “pretty sure you are the first.” And we laughed again.
Over the next nine months, I have had a ring side seat to this miraculously difficult process of growing life. I watched her every month as her body changed. I was not surprised when she told me it was a boy. I was honored and happy that she loved my son’s name enough to consider it as an option for her son. I was elated when she and Chris chose it for him.
I saw her walk through the pain and discomfort that comes with pregnancy. I saw her walk through the fear and doubt, not just about the delivery but about having another child, working with three kids, stress, blended families, and all the other things that come with a baby. And she did it all with her quick wit and sense of humor that I love so much about her. I loved hearing how she felt and what she was thinking and feeling. I loved that she told me the truth. That she was unafraid to give me the whole experience and not just the “OMG, I love being pregnant.” Being pregnant sucks a great deal of the time just so you know. We do it because that is part of being a mom, putting your own needs second and allowing discomfort to become the norm.
I am also super glad that it is her and not me. At 50, my time for bringing life into the world, passed, over. And I am grateful for that. As much as I have enjoyed watching her journey, realizing that my time for giving birth is long gone, I am grateful to be the parent of teenagers (said almost no one ever). I am also super excited to hold her baby, rock him and snuggle him. I will be happy to babysit, walk the floor with him and love on him whenever she will let me. I am totally excite to be a friend she can rely on whenever she needs a break.
The experience of giving birth is uniquely a woman's. Men participate but they are outsiders. The process contained within our bodies and minds. We can allow them entrance to this world, but we women bring forth life on our own. It is our journey, our duty and mission to give birth. Men are able and willing partners, holders of our hands, encouragers, champions, protectors, abuse recipients when we are exhausted, hormonal, and spent. They are steadfast in their role but theirs always secondary to ours. Their pain and discomfort not really comparable to ours.
Giving birth changes you as a woman each time you do it. Fundamentally alters every cell in your body, your brain chemistry, your thoughts, feelings, emotional fortitude. We are forever altered by this process. Becoming supremely vulnerable to our bodies physical functions, powerless in our exertion of life giving power. It is a tricky business, giving birth. You are totally powerful, but completely without control. You are responsible for life, but also can bring death. Our bodies the holder of new life, but also beyond our purview to decide how it will all go down. We must prepare for the worst, but pray every minute of every day for the rest of their lives that they are safe, healthy and can feel how much they are loved.
Today, I want to honor all the women. All the mothers. All the women I know who have taken on this most difficult, life changing process of giving birth. We give new life to not only our children but ourselves. Each time we have a new child, we also birth a new us. A new mother to care for this child. We are transformed and altered. I want to say how wonderful it is to be a witness to the miracle, while not having to experience it again for myself. I want to remember how vulnerable and scared I felt each time my newborn child was placed upon my chest. Knowing that this new life, meant more to me than my own. That I would happily exchange my life for theirs. That my happiness would forever be measured in conjunction with their happiness.
There are a million reasons not to be a mother or father. There are a million and one reasons to skip it. Miss all the drama and trauma. There is really just one reason to endure all the hardship, pain, fear, and discomfort, that one reason surpasses all other reasons to the contrary: becoming a mother is the deepest exercise of spiritual growth I know. It is the only experience that changes you instantly, and moment to moment forever. It is the one decision you can make that you can never unmake regardless of the end result. Once you are pregnant, even for a short time, you are forever changed, linked up to higher calling that fundamentally changes the you, you were, are and will be.
So on this day, Logan’s birthday, I want to say Happy Birthday Sweet Boy! I am honored to have watched your journey this far. I love your mother with my whole heart and promise both your parents to be there for them, you and your siblings in the days, weeks and months to come. I will be there to ease whatever I may have the opportunity to. I will be honored to hold you, you darling little boy.
Hayley and Chris, congratulations! You totally have this! I believe in you as parents and as a couple. It is going to be a shitshow for a little while, but it will calm down, there are moments in these early days that you will look back on years from now and remember the time that you walked the floor, or rocked him until you thought you might collapse and you will smile. The pain and discomfort is the blessing in all of this. It is there to help you not forget. It is there to seer into your mind and heart this most precious gift of new life. You are both worthy of the challenge and capable of honoring the responsibility. My wish for you all is that you enjoy, relish and savor the moments for they are always gone too soon. Rely on family and friends but don’t be afraid to tell us to buzz off so that you can connect as a family.
Know that we all love you and are here. Logan, welcome to the world! We have been waiting for you an are so happy you have finally arrived. Rowynn and Rylen congratulations on being the older sister and brother. This new baby is going to look to you for everything. Remember if you are not an example, you are a warning! :)
To my other girlfriends who are either just finished with this process or about to begin, thank you for helping remember my own process of giving birth. I am pulling for you all. Congratulations just doesn’t seem to cover it. So I will instead say Namaste my new mothers. Namaste.