Curled up in bed with our 4-day-old baby and listening to the hum of activity in our kitchen, I keep dozing off to the rise and fall of my husband’s voice as he attempts to organize the younger children into making dinner. It feels decadent to have done not much more than feed the baby and sleep since Rita’s arrival on Monday evening. My husband and older children have given me the incredibly generous gift of doing nothing. For the first time since becoming a mom 20+ years ago, I’m able to just snuggle the baby, sleep, and heal.
It started when our first was born, my husband worked and went to school full time, and there wasn’t anyone to come and help. I also had the magic of being 22 on my side. The physical toll of childbirth was outweighed by the unimaginable strength of my youth.
With each baby that we added to our brood, there was always a reason for me to push through the aches and exhaustion and just carry on as though having a baby was the most normal thing in my life. It was much more a speed bump than a life-altering event.
When our now 5-year-old was born in a dramatic fashion that included a 4th degree tear, my body rebelled at the idea of carrying on with life as usual, but we hadn’t planned for me to recuperate any other way, and so healing took much longer than it otherwise would have.
But this time….this time I’m finally getting the chance to do post-partum right.
Maybe it’s because my other children are older, and this is the first baby since my first baby that I haven’t been caring for a toddler and a newborn. Maybe it’s that my other children are old enough to understand the importance of rest, and are gifting me with the space to sleep until I’m done. Maybe it’s that my husband has the gift of time away from work to take care of everything else so that I can focus on nothing other than myself and the baby. Maybe it’s that he finally has the luxury of position which allows him to turn off his work phone and not have his attention divided. Maybe it’s that I’m finally self-sure enough to ask for what I really need and not be afraid to inconvenience other people. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things.
As I sit snuggle in here among this sea of blankets with the warm bean-baggy weight of a new baby on my chest listening to her tiny sighs and squeaks and dozing off in a fog of blissful happiness, I know that this is how it should have always been, and I know exactly how blessed I am to be given the gift of rest and peace today.
Photo credit: Desiree Chapman Photography of Rita Frech
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