April 21, 2023
Who Are You? Who Am I?
Who Are We?
Written By: Mary Lawless Lee
Knight — two dimples, olive skin, deep blue eyes, and an indescribable sweetness I've never met. He looks just like his older sister and is perfect in every way. We connect immediately in the OR as the doctor pulls him from the same scar where his brother and sister entered the world and took their first breaths. The scar that has taught me so much – how powerful the female body is, how to be gentle and gracious with myself, and how beautiful the imperfections really are. Over the years, my appreciation for this beauty mark has grown and today I feel that emotion so deeply.
He knows me. He knows my voice, my smell, and he’s totally peaceful once in my arms. I feel like we’ve known each other for a lifetime and in that moment we’re the only two on earth, the only thing that matters. He immediately latches, and we are one.
Newborn life is everything all at once. Even through the magic of our bubble, I’m quickly reminded how raw and tender these first few weeks of postpartum are. As women, we are sold a fairytale and so much of it does feel to be just that, but there is also another reality to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. As a mother of three (still getting used to that one!) and someone who has been in both places, it’s important to me to share both sides. Ultimately, it can be both the fairytale bliss and a complete crash all at the same time…AND THAT’S OKAY.
There is a sense of restlessness and peace that settles in as we leave the hospital. The world feels perfectly complete and utterly chaotic simultaneously. These first few hours and days together hold a multitude of emotions and beginnings, and I try to stay present for each and every one.
Some realities, however, are easier to stay present to than others. I’ve forgotten about the fatigue, exhaustion, pain, soreness, night sweats (oh the night sweats!) and the throb of my boobs transitioning into giant watermelons. This time around, the baby fog has been so intense. I’ve become shit at making decisions. Maybe that’s the two toddlers, or how quickly I know I’ll be jumping back into work, or just the sheer fact of my third abdominal surgery in three years. Even trying to decide something as simple as what’s for dinner feels almost impossible. My concentration is fleeting, and it’s hard not to feel like I’m always just one step behind—like I’m mentally wading through waist-deep water.
"These days I’m living in the realm of “both/and”. I’m exhausted, and deliriously happy. I’m both teary, and grateful. My body is both sore and healing, and it’s strong and resilient. I’m overwhelmed by the day-to-day, and still feel a deep sense of peace that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be."
Of course, there’s a sense of beautiful joy at meeting my son, gratitude for our health, and deep love, but it’s coupled with lingering dips of vulnerability and an acute sense of my own limitations.
My nervous system feels overloaded and frayed. I’m easily startled and more anxious than normal as we transition into home life. I assure myself that it will all settle as sleep resumes and a schedule takes shape. If I’m honest, it’s hard to be patient and trust that this, too, is part of the postpartum process. It’ll just take time as I regulate, in the meantime I try to give myself grace and stay present.
I’ve been through this postpartum journey twice before now, and yet it still feels surprising and new. Maybe because I’m not who I was two years ago? I’ve grown, changed, made mistakes and failed, dreamed bigger, built more, and loved harder. Of course it’ll take time to settle into this new world, this world where Knight is here snuggling, cooing and nestling just beside me. And I’m so glad he’s here…I’m so glad he’s mine.
As I’m drifting back to sleep I remind myself of this…
These days I’m living in the realm of “both/and”. I’m exhausted, and deliriously happy. I’m both teary, and grateful. My body is both sore and healing, and it’s strong and resilient. I’m overwhelmed by the day-to-day, and still feel a deep sense of peace that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. Here in the pile of diapers, with a million half-full glasses of water littered around my house, soft baby cheeks pressed against my chest, and nights where Madison and I collapse into each other at the end of the day— here’s where we’re home. Here’s where I belong.