Today I lead postpartum support groups, and thank goodness I have to be the group leader, so I can't walk out of the group and cry in the restroom. I must open up that old inner self to some more compassionate attitudes if I'm going to be of help to my fellow moms.
I know everything feels undone. I know being a grown-up sucks. I know your house is a mess. I know you have writer's block. I know you feel behind. I know you wish you were superwoman. I know. I know. But. You just had a baby.
No one should co-opt your C-section story for their birth agenda. Just like shaming women about how they breastfeed or formula-feed is anti-feminist, so is shaming them and questioning them about how they birth.
I'm trying to figure out how best to honor my pregnancies -- all three -- and the body that housed them. They don't necessarily need to be emboldened in my postpartum size and I guess stretch marks of the soul are the stretch marks that aren't readily visible to anyone other than me.
At some point after my second child made it into toddlerhood intact, I developed a kind of confidence I never had before. I am capable! I get stuff done! Our little world may be a bit of a mess on a day-to-day basis, but my husband and I can do this parenting thing.
My name was still Becky and I lived in the same house, but postpartum depression and anxiety turned me into a version of myself that looked and sounded nothing like me. That's what these illnesses do, after all.
You may pretend you are fine, functioning, because you are still able to sauté the garlic a perfect golden brown and vacuum the dog hair off of the Chinese rug and put on mascara and cut the baby's tiny fingernails without drawing blood. And yet, you are totally detached.
Hammocks, spa treatments, hired help, warm foods, arctic cradles, and cardboard... there does not appear to be a universal answer to coping with sleep deprivation as a new mom, so most of the world seems to have adapted their own.
Our bodies don't stay the same; of course they don't. They evolve, they show signs of a life lived, a life loved. As they should. They bear witness to where we've been, that we've been. They are like maps that tell the tale of our time, our travels.
For me, caring for a new baby varied from one hour to the next. I was learning to take it day by day. I loved my daughter, but found sleep deprivation, feeding and learning how to intuit and read my baby's cries overwhelming at times.
You were by my side as I fell madly, deeply, head over heels in love with the beautiful little boy who completed our family. You supported me as my first sweet son curled up behind me in the rocking chair. You told me that we would all start healing together.