Newborn Baby Days
Eloise, Eloise, Eloise.
These are the days I put down my phone and was hardly connected with the outside world, or much of the inside. I'd read an insightful article about planning your postpartum period with your new baby, and it advised considering the wisdom of years gone by - of resting in bed with your newborn while you recover from birth.
One week for the first child, plus one day for each subsequent child, it said. As Eloise is my third, that made nine days in bed, without accountability for any household or childcare duties with the other children. Given the blood loss and postpartum depression I suffered after Grace's birth, going back too early and doing too much too fast, I realized this may be some good advice.
And so I carefully prepared our meals, our home, my little close space for my time with the baby. Of course, I wasn't in bed all nine days, but I did not leave the house, and for the first three days, I did not leave the upstairs but once. I spent almost no time on the phone or computer, and I spent whatever time with the children as naturally occurred, though Geoff was their primary parent those days. I took care of myself, I took care of the baby, and I documented and marinated in the treasure of these times together. Through photographs, cell phone snapshots, drawings, and journal entries, I sponged it all up, every little bit. These photographs are the remainder of my postpartum resting period with Eloise.
Placenta capsules, epsom salt soaks, foot baths, cutting off a piece of my own hair for her baby journal, quiet, hot baths, steamy windows, frozen January days. These are the times I can smell and hear when all is silent and dark and I close my eyes and can see the pastel glaze across the wall though the stained glass. I can hear the lick of the bathwater echo through the tall-ceiling bathroom and hear myself breathing through my nose. I can smell those indelible smells - bleach-smell-goody freshly-birthed baby smell, loud baby cry, the feel of her perfect little temples and cheeks smooshing across my lips as I caress and kiss her. My panic when her little cord pulled mostly off at just five days, a minor accident, catching on a shirt I still blame myself for. I hear the muffled memory of Geoff's reassurance that it was more than OK and totally fine.
He's not usually a comforter, so his reassurance was extremely powerful for me. After he'd just been my perfect complement in birth, his voice during this incident with her made me feel as though maybe his anticipation of my needs in labor wasn't an accident, or two planets passing, but a new phase of his mercy for me. Maybe after letting him see me be strong, he would know that when I'm weak, the forces I'm battling must be really big. In the wake of having to part with my mom, this could not be more welcome, as she was the last living force of dependable comfort in my life when things got difficult. I expect a lot of myself, and he expects a lot of himself, and I'm not sure if he expects a lot from me, because I've never given anything less and don't know how to. But I know a mother always loves you and has mercy for you no matter what you do and don't do. I used to want to impress her, and the whole world. Then I realized that although she did seem impressed, she loved me, and that was so much more.
God's love is the same way. No matter what we do or don't do, he is always there and always comforts and always loves.
And that was all I did. Accept, accept, accept. And let it all wash over me. The good, the powerful, the clean. The eye before the storm, the quiet before the cacophony. God's mercy and fulfillment in His own timing. It was perfect peace.
Well, it was as close as you can get with 3 children 5 and under.
This is what I saw.