Early this morning, eyes more closed than open, nipples more sore than not, I hooked my boobs up to my breast pump and milked myself like the dairy intolerant do to almonds. When I was finished, I put the bottles on my nightstand intending to grab a few more minutes of shut eye before shuffling zombie-like to the refrigerator. But having just mechanically expelled some ounces of fluid, I was a tad more thirsty than tired; I reached for my water. And as I reached, those bottles of milk tumbled right off the precipice of my nightstand into the abyss of my slippers. The expression “don’t cry over spilt milk” obviously does not apply to spilt breast milk.
I wailed and whined like a humpback, which coincidentally is what I have felt like during these post-partum days (most especially when I tried to get into my jeans). But I digress. All the hard work of my ducts and glands was gone in a single splash. I cried loud enough to wake both my husband and my baby. The expression “sleeping like a baby” also does not apply to spilt breast milk. Amid the waterworks, it occurred to me that crying over spilt milk is one of the more legitimate reasons for my tears as of late. Among the less legitimate: the wind, a spider, cat hair, and the fact that Alamo Drafthouse allows infants and nursing moms into certain movie showtimes. Three tears for inclusivity, am I right? Side note: next week my sweet son will attend his first movie in the theater; maternity leave, after all, is no time for sanity to die.
During these first few weeks of Motherhood, tears are a familiar cohort. Irrationality and insecurity are my constant companions. Sleep mostly eludes me, though its warm memory haunts my sheets. My spirit is cradled by the spindly clutch of sadness and my body by night sweats, hot flashes and headaches. Marks are stretched across my stomach like a mummy’s linen cloth and my boobs are simply frightful looking. My sweet husband disagrees, but that’s how I feel. And as if the Halloween homages have not yet been enough (I sure do love October), I feel a bit like a ghost.
I knew parenthood would be hard. I knew it, and I chose it anyway. But no one and nothing can prepare you for what it really means to be a mother (unlike this great blog which can totally prepare you for what it really means to be a social worker, for example).
I think all I really needed to say today is that Motherhood is hard as shit. This does not mean I am not grateful. I love this tiny little human more than I ever thought possible–so much so that it feels like I grew a whole new heart. I recognize that there are many people out there who are mothers and fathers only in their hearts, who yearn to know this struggle. And I want to honor the people for whom that is true, and I also want to honor this struggle.
As I navigate my way through the feats and misfortunes of early Motherhood, as I piece together parts of my ransacked body and transformed spirit, as I evolve into my new identity, all I really know for certain is that I will keep crying over spilt milk, and every damn other thing for a while.
But this season shall pass. And I already know that I will miss it when it does.