Tuesday, January 28

on solid ground: a mama three-years wise

Yesterday my firstborn turned three years old. We celebrated his birthday on Saturday with a construction-themed party, good friends and good cake. He was crazy excited and ran around the room, jumping up and down exclaiming "Birthday! Birthday! Woohoo!" each time someone new arrived. I had almost as good a time as he did.

In the days leading up to his birthday, I've often been overcome with emotion. Tears come easy. I wrote about his birth last year: it was a long road, with my water breaking early and labor never starting and ending up in a C-section 69 hours later. It was a far cry from the cozy homebirth I had imagined and was deeply invested in having. Having a C-section was my worst nightmare, and it was, in fact, the hardest, most traumatizing thing that ever happened to me.

But it's been three years, and in that time I've done a lot of internal work to process what happened and absorb the lessons of that experience. It was all that deep work that led me to have a much better experience giving birth to Cash last May. Though that birth, too, started at home and culminated in the OR, it was a much more positive, empowering experience. I feel I've pretty well integrated the events surrounding the birth of my first boy. It has become a meaningful story for me, and it deeply informs the work I do with expectant mamas in my prenatal yoga classes.

And, yet. Tears.

This was the day my water broke, I thought on the 24th. This was the day we went to the midwife's office and the day I took the castor oil I though the next day.This was the day we spent at home and I madly paced the backyard, listening to Madonna and Beyonce, trying to get labor started. The day we gave up and went to the hospital on the day after that.

There is gratitude. Gratitude for a healthy happy boy. Gratitude for being a mama three-years wise and having come so, so far from the pain and confusion of those early days and months. Gratitude that I never have to go back there again. Gratitude--yes, even for this--for that event that knocked me down and the story of getting back up again which I can, and do, share, over and over, so that other mamas can walk into their birth experiences with a bit more knowledge and fewer expectations.

But also sadness--so much sadness still, as though I'm uncovering deeper and deeper layers of feeling. All of this emotion, still, after three years?

Trauma lives in the body, the same vessel that carried both my boys. Seemingly random things will set off a land mine of tears. Sometimes, lying in savasana at the end of yoga practice, I'll flash on being back there, lying on the operating table, gazing up at the stark cold lights, my heart broken and my belly slashed. I'm--still--always ready to cry at the thought of the water birth I never had, will never have.

The deepest layers of sadness aren't for me, now, but for who I was then. For the tender mix of hope, despair, vulnerability and strength that characterized the days surrounding the birth and the first several months of my son's life. I want to reach out through time and hug her, and cry with and for her. But I also want to let her know that, though it isn't anything like what she envisioned, whatever she is experiencing is ok. That she will be ok. That she was a good mama from the start, though it would take her months and years to believe and affirm it. I would tell her that this is just part of the story, that there is so much good ahead. That she just needs to be patient, and kind with herself.

But there's space for these tears now. There is a safe container for them. They no longer threaten my equilibrium. Three years after the birth of my first son, eight and a half months after the birth of my second, I am more grounded, more resourced, happier than I've been at almost any point since. My feet are firmly planted on solid ground. I am connected to my strong center. And so I have the freedom to open my arms wide for these boys of mine, and the strength to hold them

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