During my research on yoga, pregnancy and motherhood, I came across a video recently which described the first three months postpartum as the fourth trimester. I thought this to be a fitting way to describe the time immediately following the final fruition of pregnancy and the spectacle of labor. The immediate aftermath is a direct extension of both preceding stages.
For my first-time round, my pregnancy and labor were considered to be uncomplicated and ‘normal.’ I gave birth to a healthy, full-term baby boy naturally and without medical intervention, and for this, I am grateful. However, once the adrenalin rush subsided, once my husband and I came back home not as two, but with a tiny third in tow, a small part of me couldn’t help but ask, “Now what?”
From my nascent experience, the time right after birth was one of deep satisfaction and contentment from just being able to nestle in with baby. I felt nourished simply being next to Sesam, taking him in, observing his every last detail, tending to his needs. Everything was a novelty, how to feed him, bathe him, dress him, take him for a walk. My own body appreciated the quiet time and space it took to rest and recover. A gentle walk and a few stretches or a couple of sun salutations were enough to sustain me during those first wobbly days and early weeks back from the hospital.
Something happened at the three month mark though, with us both. I’m experiencing a gradual return to my own physicality and a mental shift back out into the wider world. Sesam has experienced an energetic growth spurt of his own. He is able to hold his neck up a bit more and attempts to roll over onto his stomach. Once there, he can stay on his stomach for longer stretches of time without getting fatigued. He makes and holds eye contact, looking around with a more focused gaze. And while all these recent developments in the both of us are healthy, natural and exciting, I cannot help but feel a slight twinge of … something. What exactly, I cannot quite find the word which matches the sensation I feel in the pit of my stomach and in the back of my mind. It feels kind of like a cousin to nostalgia. Nostalgia? Already?! It feels like the last day of school before the long summer break, when you go back to pick up something you left behind, a book or a sweater, perhaps, and the entire building, which just a few hours ago buzzed with hyperactivity, now stands empty and silent. A witness, to your footsteps echoing down the long and hollow hall. Is the cousin of nostalgia that disquieting-feeling-which-has-no-name?
The little newborn infant who joined our household on that first sunny dawn of early spring is no more. In his place, we have a round baby, growing at an unprecedented pace. It makes me realize what lies ahead: more signposts of tangible change, indicating the unrelenting passage of time. It’s no wonder parents try to capture precious early moments by bronzing booties and imprinting baby footprints. As mementos, evidence of these tiny shape shifters at their endearing beginning. Talismans, before sending one’s own blood and bone out, further and further, into increasingly larger circles of society.
I once heard that giving birth was like taking a trip to the moon.
I liken it closer to swimming in the watery depths of an endless ocean.
It’s most likely due to my natural inclination for water; that while giving birth, I felt like I was simultaneously going both deep within myself and farther and farther away from myself, all the while encapsulated in a great liquid mass. It felt like I was pearl diving, for the most precious and rarest of gems, for something valuable beyond measure.
It felt like the scene in Trainspotting where the protagonist, Mark Renton, dives into ‘the worst toilet in Scotland’ to get his opium rectal suppositories back. I am not entirely sure why I find this metaphor suitable. It came during the woozy, sleep-deprived, state of euphoria that describes my first three days post-delivery. I suppose it has something to do with the combined elements of grit, suffering and desperation culminating in tranquility and triumph, which suit this narrative.
13 weeks in and we are back now. From the moon. From the mysterious depths of a fluid world. Life demands that we return back and tend to the garden of daily commitments and responsibilities, with a whole new crop to sow. In the grand scheme of things, having a baby is one expression out of the limitless range of experiences one can have in life. It’s a wave rising up from the ocean before dissolving back from which it came.
Dear readers, I shall complete my birth series here with what I have learned so far. Bringing new life into this life is life itself: glorious. chaotic. complete. dramatic. painful. perfect.
Stay blessed and enjoy the life you live. Om!