When I was pregnant with The Boss, I was cognizant only of gestation. I was growing a fetus. I read books about those forty weeks. I created a Babies R Us registry for the bump on my belly. I could not see past the line of delivery to the act of growing a child. Perhaps that is partly why parenting a human being came as a complete and utter shock to me.
The baby blues? Why didn't anyone...sob...tell me about this? Engorgement? Stop the car now, I need to feed! Poop? What is with my daughter and her explosive ass?
I was recently discussing The Boss's birth with one of my best friends, whose sister was about to have a baby of her own. I mentioned my less than ideal birth experience, to which my friend claimed total ignorance. "I didn't know you had a c-section. When I asked you how the birth went and you burst into tears, I figured you didn't want to talk about it." Erring on the side of caution, she buried the subject. It didn't get exhumed for two years.
"It's okay," I said. "I'm over it." Okay, so that's only partly true, but the main point is that I can talk about it. I've been talking about it for roughly 21 months now--the two years of my daughter's existence thus far, minus the three months immediately following her arrival. I could not have talked about it during that fourth trimester. I couldn't talk about much of anything. It's no coincidence that I started blogging just after The Boss turned three months, when my tear ducts dried up and the verbal floodgates opened.
At that point, I wanted every first-time mom-to-be to know that there is life after "Your Pregnancy Week By Week" and "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy." Even though I wasn't sure anyone would listen, I wanted to put out there the fact that this life, this after, is completely altered in time and space.
Maybe, before, you had a lot of free time. Maybe you thought there weren't enough hours in the day. Maybe you used to worry a lot, or not much at all. Regardless. Now you have no time whatsoever, and your worries are larger than life. This new life. The one that--have I mentioned?--is completely changed.
That's what I wanted to tell people. I still do. But now I wonder if the words can do more than make a temporary impression in the bubble that is pregnancy. After all, the realities of being a mother are completely out of context to someone on the other side of the cusp. It's almost impossible to wrap your mind and heart around something--with all its joys, yes, but also its difficulties--that you cannot grasp until you're right there in the middle of it.
Tomorrow is my second anniversary as a mother. Before July 21, 2005, I was wading in a low tide. Then the swell came and my feet haven't touched bottom since. With The Partner and The Boss and a few planks to float on, it is not necessary to tread water all the time, and the salt is less chafing. Each night the moon pulls us deeper into a sea that is like the womb. And the days close to shore seem lonelier and pale in the distance.