Time goes by so fast…
Catherine is 14 days old as I write this column, and it is in a blur, almost a dream, that I remember going into labor on Friday, December the 15th. Things happened fast, so fast that, the other day, I wrote everything down to remember every detail, from beginning to end. (Thank you for the advice, Christy).
I won’t blog about it in depth, because that writing will hopefully be part of my next collection of essays. But giving birth has been such a transcendent, life-changing experience that I wanted to keep intact every memory, from the first cramp, in the morning, and from the first real contraction, while Ben and I were having dinner with my parents and with our friend Nicky, to laboring with our amazing doula, Karla, until 6:00 am the following morning. I remember her hands massaging my aching back, the blend of essential oils that helped me breathe, her encouraging words giving me strength.
I didn’t deliver with the OBGYN I expected, and I never want to forget that — because life didn’t go according to plans — wonderful Dr. Finke delivered my baby. Him, together with Ben and Karla, made December the 16th the most beautiful day of my life.
Time goes by fast, and time changes things.
By day 3 postpartum, my stomach was so flat that I could barely see the signs of my pregnancy, other than for the softer than usual muscles and skin. I thought that having a flat stomach as soon as possible would be a priority, after giving birth. But I barely cared. I actually missed pregnancy; I missed having my daughter inside of me. I felt a hole, a wound.
I had always been sure I only wanted one child; but for the first time I said to Ben:
Maybe we could have another one, one day.
I was slowly realizing that a part of me, and of us, had died so quickly that the new birth of me, and of us, was difficult to grasp, to embrace, to accept.
Once more, since Tom had passed, I was grieving.
It happened all of a sudden, and I don’t even remember our last dinner, just the two of us, in the kitchen, with the cheap tablecloth from Target.
I told Ben. My parents had flown in from Italy on December the 12th, and we had been having dinner with them every evening, in the dining room, with the beautiful tablecloth that Ben and I had bought in Maui during the baby moon, on the last break from the tour.
What did we eat that night?
I have been crying since the day we brought Catherine home. Ben and I were no longer who we had been until then, but we didn’t know what we had become, besides new parents. Because time does go by fast, and time does change things.
As days passed, mostly nursing Catherine around the clock, I found myself unable to let go of what labor had been, of the feelings and the emotions I had felt that night at Cedars Sinai, from when I had walked in with Karla through the ER, at 7:15 am, to the moment we had been moved into our postpartum room, 10:00 pm. I didn’t want to let go of the pain before the epidural, of the alternative universe I had entered during labor, and of Dr. Finke.
I wanted to hold on to when he had first introduced himself to us, to when he put his hand over my shoulder, in a manner that was compassionate, and at once comfortably friendly and professional; he promised me that everything would be fine. I didn’t want to let go of the two hours of pushing, and of feeling an inner power I didn’t know existed within myself. I couldn’t let go of Ben’s eyes full of loving tears, of his hands in mine, of his offering me ice chips and tropical juice after every contraction. Ultimately, I didn’t want to let go of the very moment when Dr. Finke handed Ben our daughter, so he could put her on my skin.
She finally cried. And they didn’t take her away.
I said to her in Italian.
Please, cry, my love.
It was 8:09 pm, the most beautiful evening.
Things change so fast that writing is my only way to keep them with me forever just the way they were. For I can access them every time I feel the need by just opening the pages of my notebook. I can access them without being their prisoner, running the risk of making the present go by even faster, without being in it, and therefore losing what I will want to remember tomorrow.
Catherine is 14 days old as I write this. I am emotional, and I still cry almost every day. I am tired, and I struggle to accept help, to rest, to take care of my wounds, the physical ones as well as the emotional ones. Waves of anxiety assault me every time that I bring her to my breast. It may be D-MER, but whether I rationalize it or not it hurts.
When I was 22 weeks pregnant, my friend Christine gave me a book titled The First 40 Days. The author shares her postpartum experience, and writes about the importance of taking care of the mother during what is known as the “fourth trimester”. After reading it, I had cooked and frozen healthy food, I had planned on my mom helping me, and I had also planned on naps and self-care. But asking for help is still difficult for me. I am blessed to have Karla at home with us, but even with her I do laundry and make dinner, I straighten up the living room, and I micromanage our lives forgetting that I gave birth 2 weeks ago.
Time changes things, but some things never change.
I am writing this blog because, when I write, I understand myself in ways that — by just living — barely touch the surface of who I am.
In the past week I was told countless time that, in order to breastfeed, I have to sleep and take care of myself; I was told countless times that, in order for the bleeding to stop and for the stitches to heal, I have to take it easy, and be gentle with myself.
Writing this column is part of taking care of myself, of my soul; I am taking the time to nurture what I love, my daughter, but also my passion, my needs, what’s in my heart. I am nursing her, as I type. For time does change things, but some things don’t have to change.
Happy New Year to all of you guys who have been following me, and read my words, during 2017. Thank you for the love, that now I send back to you.