Note: The first iteration of this post was started on May 13, 2017. In the last two years a lot has changed, while much still remains raw and tender. What began as an emotional exploration surrounding a miscarriage in 2015, has transcended into a different reflective experience all together.
It’s early morning. The house is quite. I am sitting in my child’s room on the edge of being 5 weeks postpartum. I switch on the electric pump, and contemplate my current surroundings. Four years after the devastating loss of my first child, I find myself on the other end of the spectrum. Yes, I am the mother of a radiant son. It is also true that I am the mother of a child who did not make it Earth side. I birthed them both, and love them with equal fervor.
From my warm seat, I watch drops of milk drip to collect in the contraption attached to my body. I sip on a tea intended to help with the process unfolding before me, lactation. I am used to growing food for myself and others as a farmer. And yet this level of production is unique. It requires something more, nuanced even.
My mind finds a focal point here: the birthing of a mother. The inherited and adaptive skills necessary for the work of parenting; that deep, specialized practice, which one can never really prepare for. You just have to let it in. There are pieces of information you wish you would have had. Little cues to clue you in from the start.
The particular bits I’d have asked to understand: how to release mounting anxiety; what to do when I feel like I’m not enough; when to seek support. These questions will seem as if there are simple solutions. Yet in a postpartum haze I’ve had to recollect my resources again and again; to prioritize remembering as a sacred ritual.
This Mother’s Day is, of course, unique. It is my first as a parent and, rather auspiciously, the day also falls near the completion of my postpartum period, also referred to as the first forty days. In China (and Chinese Medicine) this time frame is known as Zuo Yuezi, or “Sitting the Month”. During these 4-5 weeks, a new mother is held in deep regard, receiving around the clock care from the wise womxn in her community (grandmother, mother, aunties, etc.).
As for my own experience in the last month, there is still so much to unpack and reflect upon. Truths that I hope to share bravely, in community. The two things I know for sure: listening to the stories of other mothers is life-giving; resilience is crucial. Both have been a gift, a reminder and a consistent prayer. To lean into trust, for my child(ren), and myself.