Saturday, May 2, 2015
THE TENTH MOON
So much of my work deals with pregnancy and birth, but recently I've begun diving into the world on the other side of birth-- the postpartum chapter, or tenth moon, as I like to call it. Our society pays very little attention to this intense period of new motherhood-- once the baby is on the outside, s/he becomes the center of attention and the mother's well-being is often overlooked. New mamas are expected to be beaming symbols of joy and happiness-- after all, with a healthy baby, why wouldn't you be happy? But for many women, this period of time is one of intense emotions and adjusting to new roles and realities. We may feel ecstatic and in love, and yet also vulnerable, scared, and sad. If our birth experience didn't go as we'd hoped, we may feel deeply disappointed, let down, and angry. And even if we can't articulate why, we may feel a deep sense of sadness. Hormones obviously play a strong role in these emotions, but I also believe that women feel so deeply around birth because it a sacred and spiritual event. Both our bodies and our hearts open to bring new life forward, and in doing so, space is created for all kinds of energy.
To all the new mamas: I hope you know that it's ok to grieve. It's ok to mourn the experience you didn't have, it's ok to feel disappointment, anger, regret, and sadness. It's ok to grieve if you'd wished for a little girl but now have a beautiful baby boy in your arms. It's ok to miss your round, full belly, to mourn the loss of your pre-baby body, or to feel out of place in your own skin. It's ok to feel sad that your baby is no longer just yours-- s/he is out in the world now and that sacred bond of one-ness that you shared has been broken. Anything and everything you feel is ok.
You've just crossed the sacred threshold of birth. Life came through you. This is huge. There is space for everything you're feeling. Your sadness and grief and disappointment don't make your joy and excitement any less real. These heavy feelings don't negate your love for your baby or make you any less of a mother. Your heart has wide open with love and newness and in this wide open space, you will feel it all.
Be gentle with yourself. Let your heart pound with rawness. Ask for help-- for support and company and backrubs and time to take bubble baths. Know that you are not alone-- your tears and joy tie you to the ancient stream of motherhood. You are unconditional love-- in all its painful, messy glory.