The Tears of New Motherhood

Each time I think back to the moments of my son’s birth, these lines of poetry (which I studied in high school) come to mind:

My father groaned! my mother wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt

(The real poem, “Infant Sorrow,” by William Blake, transposes the mother and father, but I remember the mother as the one weeping.)

IMG_0772See how I wept? I tried to hold them back, but as soon as little Sam exited the premises, the tears gushed.

I had what could be considered an “easy” labor and delivery, with an epidural that worked like ecstasy. But towards the end, I felt the tears on tap.

When he arrived “helpless, naked, piping loud,” these signs of life undid me. Finally, it was over. He was alive, he was healthy, and I could relax. Later, when I lay back watching my family gush over the baby, my eyes watered again. I felt a sense of love and pride thinking, “We made that!”

IMG_0797Was there any better feeling in the world?

Those early tears were for relief and joy, but as two weeks have worn on, other tears—of frustration, bewilderment, and sometimes resentment (when I’m running on vapors of sleep)—have followed. After a few days, I wasn’t sure I could do it anymore. (You should never trust your instincts when running on three nonconsecutive hours of sleep or less.)

In the first days, visitors and callers broke up the monotony, distracted from the sense of helplessness I otherwise felt when alone with baby Sam for several hours. A friend emailed to say she made it through the first two weeks just fine, but when the commotion died down, postpartum depression set in. The D-word. A word I was once well acquainted with. But I’m not D these days, unless D stands for (sleep) deprived.

My tears (which are becoming less and less), and the periodic panic that “I’ll never find time to write or finish my book or blog again” are just par for this course, especially for a new mother who took almost thirty years to decide on this course.

IMG_0230 Amidst all the crying, feeding, sleep deprivation, and diaper changing, there are moments of every day I find myself just gazing at this new baby—our little miracle. It helps to look down at my son, even during one of the eight to twelve daily breastfeeding sessions (this alone is a full-time job!), and remember that the creative power of God that brought this precious, heart-stealing baby into being, is the same power that animates me, both physically and mentally. It is the same power that animates these other dreams I have–the dreams of writing and publishing that sprouted long before my dream of a baby. I must trust God that he will teach me how to live this new life. He will bring peace out of this (sometimes) chaos. One day, he will help me marry these two wonderful parts of my life. And one day I will again sleep through the night. Until I do, I won’t worry too much about the tears of new motherhood.

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9 thoughts on “The Tears of New Motherhood

  1. Michael February 4, 2014 / 7:37 pm

    Congratulations, Linsey! 😀

  2. Vinodhini February 5, 2014 / 1:14 am

    Congratssss Linsey!! I’ve been thinking off you and about your delivery! Sam is sooooooooooo cute… I can definitely understand this phase is not very easy and this too shall pass!!!
    Much Love
    Vinodhini

    • lindseygendke February 10, 2014 / 9:39 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! I’m sure you know all about these tough, early days of motherhood!

  3. Kate February 5, 2014 / 8:30 am

    So beautiful, Lindsey! Congrats! What an amazing time of your life…all the ups and downs. ..a really beautiful sequel to the first part of your story. Can’t wait to read about it all (when you get back to writing!)

    • lindseygendke February 10, 2014 / 9:53 pm

      Thanks so much Kate! It is an amazing time, if exhausting! Most interesting to the storyline (of my life) is that I have no idea what’s going to happen next. I really can’t conceptualize what the “new normal” will look like, once we get settled into a routine. God is so good at stretching us where we need it. I’m not good at flexibility, but Sam will surely push me to develop that trait! I really hope I can fit writing back into the routine soon!

    • lindseygendke February 10, 2014 / 9:41 pm

      Thanks! You’re too kind! We think he’s pretty great…when he’s not sreaming his head off!

  4. ccyager February 8, 2014 / 3:36 pm

    Congratulations, Mom! So happy to hear you and Sam are doing well and the delivery was “easy.” It does get better as far as sleep deprivation ending. He’ll be a source of joy for you and your husband for years and years….. If not a subject for your writing! Cinda

    • lindseygendke February 10, 2014 / 9:46 pm

      Thanks Cinda, for the congrats and the reminder that these tough days will pass. I need to remember that. And I’m positive he will be both a source of joy and a subject for my writing. Although I don’t want this to turn into a “mommy blog” per se, he will definitely be one of my subjects…when I can steal a few minutes away to actually write. Sigh. So far, responding to these comments has been a major feat. All part of the new journey!

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