Wife, Mother and "Me"

 
Kcakesmash

“I am not afraid of becoming a mother.  I accept this new, challenging role as a beautiful privilege that a part of me has been waiting my whole life to reach.  This very moment is where I am meant to be and I whole-heartedly, lovingly look forward to the day I can see my baby’s face for the first time.  What I am afraid of… is my ability to be a fulfilled and happy person myself.  I don’t question my ability to give my all to my marriage and baby but I am afraid that my being may get lost in the tornado that is life and the parts of me that still need a certain kind of fulfillment and love will get swallowed and forgotten.”       

–April 3, 2016

 

I recently came across the above writing as I dug through old files and photos to edit.  I have only a fuzzy memory of writing it, only about a month before I gave birth.  But there it is, exactly as I left it a little over a year ago.  I had every intention of spending those 9 months sharing my heart and celebrating the experience through my writing but as I’ve mentioned before, writer’s block reared its ugly head.  But through reading it's interesting to experience my small attempt at expressing my honest thoughts during that time and revisit my state of mind.

 

The truth is, I have longed to reclaim my sense of self since Kaia’s birth and I have struggled with my identity.  That may sound incredibly sad, negative and contradictory to how I have shared my motherhood experience so far and considering the way I have openly celebrated it.  But it isn't representative of the love I have for my new role.  I am so incredibly grateful for this experience and I know I am so fortunate.  But that’s the thing about gratitude, it means we whole-heartedly acknowledge we have something wonderful to appreciate but it doesn’t take away the discomfort.  Being pregnant across the country from my family and giving birth without my own mom nearby was extremely difficult and I struggled emotionally every day.  I was uncomfortable with beginning our journey to our new life on this little island when Kaia was only 3 1/2 months old but had no way of delaying it.  Trying to unpack our entire lives in a new home while caring for a newborn was overwhelming and we still aren’t finished almost a year later.  Dealing with the ups and downs, the triumphs and failures while learning how to be a mother all on my own, multiple time zones away from anything familiar with a husband whose job is extremely demanding has been exhausting to say the least.  It’s all the complete opposite of what I grew up believing marriage, family life and raising my children would be like.  And I was forced to change my expectations of how my own needs are met in the process.  They say it takes a village, but I've had to accept that I was so far from having that.  My motherhood experience has been wonderful and so gratifying, but also incredibly lonely.  This new, helpless little person needed so much and I want to give her all of me and more, but I started feeling like I was losing myself.  During my dark moments I’ve found myself mourning my “old” self; craving freedom I once had, missing my free-spirited adventures, fearing that as time goes on, because of being so far from support and little time to myself, my identity as a mother will continue to take over I will no longer be “Christine the human being” and "Christine the mom" will be all that is left.  I've struggled with the guilt of these feelings, because I love Kaia with all my heart and cannot imagine my life without her.  But to be a good mom it's become so clear that we can't neglect ourselves.  None of us wants to expose this unpretty side of ourselves, but it is important to be honest.  It's the only way we can work towards healing.  Mom title or not I am still human, after all.

 

I always believed pregnancy and motherhood would naturally serve as a new form of creative inspiration, and it really has.  Not a day goes by that I don’t feel some sort of spark from various moments I share with my beautiful little Kaia each day.  I absolutely love being with her every day and I would not trade it for anything in the world.  While my role as a mother is demanding and takes priority over many other things in this stage of life, it does not define me as a person.  I must embrace this new chapter and intertwine my worlds but I am still "Christine the human being" with my own interests, hobbies and passions.  I'm still that free spirited girl that wants to get lost in crazy adventures.  I need to nurture all the other layers of myself that make me who I am and spend time doing things that make me happy.  I need to lose myself in my creativity again.  It's important that I still work towards accomplishing my own goals and interests beyond the duties of wife and mother.  And extremely important that I take care of my own heart however I can, even in the smallest of ways, so I can continue to work towards being the best wife, mother and "me" I can be.  I still need to just be me, too.  So here I am, in an effort to keep pushing forward, I'm spilling the guts of my heart, squeezing all I can into the few hours I have to myself and sacrificing precious sleep. 

 

There was no way to prepare for the way motherhood would enrich my life and heighten my senses.  An immeasurable amount of joy and heartache.  Embracing it all is the only way for the heart to expand and reach new depths.  And only in motherhood can a cocktail of such contradicting emotions coexist in harmony, so painfully and beautifully.  I suppose that’s what makes the journey so unique and amazing, the endless roller coaster ride.

Mother and Father

G&C

We always said when we decided we were ready to start a family, we would never lose sight of the importance of nurturing our marriage and friendship.  That no matter how much energy we poured into our children that we would always come first.  I believe that in order to be good parents that we need to be the strong foundation.  The reality of new parenthood and our current life circumstance is that it’s hard to make our relationship a priority.  We’re tired, we get few hours alone together, his work is demanding, baby is demanding and there is no such thing as a day off.  But we continue to stay committed to that vision, even if it's a little difficult right now. 

 

We were fortunate that our labor and delivery experience was technically a good one, maybe you could even say it was successful, but it was not without plenty of worrisome moments.  Everything you read says to be prepared for marathon laboring; make sure you bring something to read, have plenty of snacks on hand for the husband, etc. But I labored so quickly that if we hadn’t gone to the hospital when we did, I may not have made it there in time.  Leading up to the birth, both my doctor and our doula Doris Ann believed that I would likely labor quickly, but there was really no way to anticipate just how fast it would all go or how dramatic it would ultimately be.  We arrived thinking we still had plenty of time, but that was not the case for me; ultimately laboring at home for 4 hours with a total of 5 in the end.  (Glen made an honest attempt at eating breakfast and drinking his coffee...a funny story for another time.)  Further adding to the drama, Kaia was positioned face up, there was no time for meds, and the threat of needing a c section if we couldn't make the natural birth happen... safe to say the delivery room situation was extremely chaotic and overwhelming.  It was intense and scary, the most traumatic experience we've shared to date.  Our emotional strength being tested along with my physical.  Glen and I leaned heavily on each other and had Doris Ann to help us through it.  Thankfully we pulled off a natural birth with no complications.  Such a relief and blessing.  It was life changing, to say the least.

 

Glen often says our childbirth experience made the risk of my mortality a reality to him.  That might sound strange, all our lives are precious and fragile.  But in his line of work, it’s usually his life at risk and between the two of us he can usually count on me to be the one who is “safe”.  This was the first time in all our years together where he felt intense fear for my life.  Watching me in pain, completely powerless and relying on prayer.  They say you fall in love with each other all over again through the birth of your first child.  This photo is that very experience between us captured by our doula shortly after Kaia was born, our emotions frozen in time.  We were both in a state of shock, trying to absorb it all.  We spoke few words, just locked eyes and embraced.  In this moment, we saw each other as mother and father for the very first time.  Kaia completes us, and is the beginning of our new adventure as parents, but it will always start with the two of us.