The golden light hasn’t entered through the window. ‘It must be before dawn’ I consider to myself feeling the weight of my eyelids desperately wanting to close down. I roll over and feel the breath of my newborn against my cheek, the sweet undeniable baby smell. ‘I wish I could bottle this forever’ I think taking in a deep breath attempting to absorb all of her, starting with her scent.
She is here. She has arrived.
She finally made it through the gateways and initiation of birth and is quietly nestled alongside me in the warmth of my bed.
I take a deep breath in to feel this moment, to try and savour its sweet flavour forever. I can hardly believe it and yet the achiness’ of my hips, back and yoni remind me I did, indeed just birth this being into the world from my own flesh and blood.
Everything hurts. Everything.
I stare at her this little being next to me in awe, in wonder, in disbelief. Just days ago she was inside my womb dancing around giving me the highest most profound spiritual experiences I have ever had coupled with nasty reflux, insomnia and haemorrhoids. I smirk silently at myself recalling the complexities, diversity and mysticism pregnancy brought into my life ‘Ha! What a journey’. And now the veils of life have opened and as I stare at this perfect little face inches from my own I know without a shadow of doubt in my heart I would do it again and again and again. 100 times if I had to. Just to see her. If only it was just for a minute.
I expand my awareness and open up my radar to check in with the rest of the household. I look across at my husband. His back is turned over to the other side and I can sense he is still soundly asleep. I watch his back rise and fall listening to the melodic hum of his breathing. ‘None of this would be possible without him’, I smile to myself feeling my love for him deepen whilst watching his sleeping body. How precious it is to be experiencing this sacred time together; deep diving through the uncharted territory of parenthood, exhausted, knee deep in shit, hearts overflowing.
I move slowly with precision and calculated concentration sneaking out of bed and hoping not to wake either of them. I put on my robe hanging over the door waiting for me and walk into my 2 year old daughter’s room. She is still sleep. I sit down on the edge of her bed and reach out to touch her little arm peering out beneath the blanket on her bed. I stare at her; the freckles perfectly splattered across her squishy nose and cheeks, her delicate strawberry blonde ringlets, her pointy chin. She looks so big now compared to her little sister. ‘What happened to my baby? When did she get so grown up‘? I feel tears welling up in my belly. They find their way to my eyes and start rolling down my cheeks. Tears of gratitude and of joy. I realise I am sitting in the manifestation of what I spent years praying for.
I am a Mother, what an honor it is.
I make my way out into the kitchen to enjoy this rare, sacred moment of having some time alone to myself. The sun is very slowly making itself seen upon this new day. I can see the shades of darkness starting to subside as I gaze out the window and wait for the kettle to boil. I think about the promise I made to myself this postpartum period; to utterly and completely treat myself with love, compassion, gentleness and take care of myself the best I can.
After my first birth 2 years ago I didn’t have much time and space for self care. Well actually, let me be honest; I did not prioritise self-care! My birth was an emergency c-section, my husband was thick in the jungle of his cancer journey, we had a business to run and I was too scared to ask for help. All I kept saying to myself was “keep your shit together Kate” and I didn’t give myself permission to stay open, raw and vulnerable.
I make myself a cup of warm chai tea with extra cinnamon recalling what I learnt from that period in my life. Although grateful for those lessons received I want this postpartum period to be one of nurture, of softness, of rejuvenation.
40 days. 40 days is the ancient traditional period of rest, bonding with the baby and recovery for mothers all over the world, well, except for Western women!
A new mother’s body is considered to be “open,” and vulnerable to cold and energy during this time. I feel the chill in my own bones as I pull my robe a little tighter around me and take another sip of my hot tea. I close my eyes and enter into my body fully embracing every sensation that I am feeling after the birth. It is painful, raw and empty yet the overflowing love pulsating through me makes everything manageable, bearable. ‘Thank God for oxytocin’ I think to myself as I marvel at the human body, it’s capabilities, its strength, its extraordinary healing abilities. Although I have been intensely studying the human body for well over a decade now it still surprises me, fascinates me.
I open my eyes and head for the shower desiring to generate some heat in my body. I let the hot water run over me soothing the strains and aches. It feels so good. Damn good. My hands find their way to my womb. It still feels big, floppy, and tender and I find myself in unfamiliar territory. My body is not the same there’s a foreign feeling; it doesn’t feel like mine. I feel as though I have been evicted and have taken up residence in a new home that I do not yet know, a new neighbourhood to acquaint myself with. ‘It’ll take time’ I whisper quietly to myself, ‘go gently’. I stop the water and reach for a towel. Wrapping myself up I peer in the mirror. I hardly recognise this woman staring back at me. She is softer, fuller, perhaps even a little bit wiser yet somewhat scared, apprehensive, raw. She looks like me but a different shade, a new flavour waiting to be discovered. ‘I not only birthed my child but also myself’ she tells me. I understand that now as I look into her eyes, my eyes, searching for something of resonance.
I avert my gaze to the window seeing the golden rays of the sun caressing the leaves on the tree outside my bathroom. The shades of light look so serene. They are dancing together, the leaves and the light beams, a perfect union. I feel calm. My ears prick up taking my eyes away from the leaves as I hear the stirring of whimpers coming from my bedroom and the pitter patter of tiny two year old feet coming down the hallway towards me. “Mama” she shouts and with that cue I leave the bathroom and start my day.
Evie Willow Reardon was born 19th April 2017 via natural vaginal birth with a private midwife.