I’ve been thinking about mothering in these days before Mother’s Day. Meeting a piece of yourself, outside of yourself… It never ceases to give me pause at just how amazing the entire process is. But mothering is also hard. Growing a human, losing or birthing a human, raising a good human, feeding and nursing a human, staying home with this tiny human, leaving this tiny human to go back to work, pumping at work… it’s all hard work. And the fact that we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, somehow doesn’t make it any less hard.
We were recently telling our friends about my past pregnancies and somehow my recollection was slightly more pleasant than Anthony’s. Isn’t it funny how after the fact we can sometimes forget how hard things are when we’re in the middle of it? Even with my rosy recollection, however, I do know for sure that the first few weeks after baby arrived were the hardest. I honestly thought that I would be able to study and enjoy a few relaxing weeks away from work with my new little bundle of joy. It seriously makes me laugh now! I was woefully unprepared for how much of me that 4th trimester would require. And for all the terrible things that people warned me about for pregnancy and delivery, why didn’t they tell me about all of the stuff that happens after baby arrives? About how much it hurts to use the bathroom, or walk or even stand up those first few days. About how wearing diapers is not just for baby and that laughing too much can make you pee yourself. About how much oversupply can hurt and how long it can take for you and baby to figure out the whole nursing thing (or not). About how even with a medical degree, you will be googling rashes and other random baby issues in the middle of the night. About the sheer exhaustion and how “sleep when baby sleeps” is idealistic. About how you might prioritize the needs of this new little life at the expense of showering and self care. About how sometimes baby will cry and you won’t be able to figure out why… But eventually baby does stop crying. I write this as my two little ones are soundly and happily asleep with some bittersweet mixed nostalgia for that 4th trimester. And I write this for all the moms who are still in the middle of the 4th trimester: it does get better! Even now I am forgetting some of those hard details of the first few weeks. I think that has always been a blessing and a curse for me, I hold on to the good memories and the bad ones I just let slide away. I have so many good memories taking up space in my heart and my head, how could I not?! But even if we forget the details, let’s not forget that 4th trimester is hard. Mothering is hard.
A couple weeks after each of my babies was born I was able to participate in the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. This awesome project is bringing attention to and shifting the conversation around indeed how hard the 4th trimester can be. Below are some photos from my shoot and you can read my full interviews here: 2017 after Niara was born and 2015 after Noelani was born.
2017, Chicago, IL (post-ophthalmology oral boards)
2015, Washington, DC (post-OKAP exam)
If you need resources for post-partum care for yourself or just need someone to talk to, definitely feel free to reach out to me.