I cant believe Bean is almost 18 months old! She's grown up so much lately, both physically and mentally...more and more words are spilling out each day, shes stronger and more coordinated, and she understands at least 80% of what we say to her (oh help!). Spending my days with Bean is, on the whole, a lot of fun these days...but it didn't always feel that way. Her impending milestone got me thinking back to the days when she was just a tiny baby bundle, a brand new being so warm and vulnerable, with that intoxicating aroma of sweet milk and honey. Her sudden existence was so incredible to me that I fell in love head first, diving deep into her without a second thought, so consumed that I couldn't come up for air.
Not many people seem to talk about how hard it can be being a new mother, or how intense those first few months are. I call it 'The newborn haze' because that's what it felt like for me, like a thick fog had settled over Bean and I, enclosing us away from the rest of the world in our own fragile universe. I felt lost in her, like I no longer knew myself and couldn't remember who I'd been before she took her first exquisite breath. I was blank and full, with no room inside me for anything else but her.
One of the most difficult parts was not being able to really express or make sense of how I was feeling, it was so unexpected, so foreign, and I didn't know where to start unraveling the threads. I think partly I was in shock at the reality of becoming a mother, and how much that would consume and totally change our life. In pregnancy, most of us focus our thoughts on being pregnant and eventually giving birth, we devour books, make plans, and monitor everything in minute detail, but we don't often pay much mind to what happens after the birth. In our culture preparing for the arrival of a baby mostly means having all the 'stuff' you need neatly arranged in the baby's room, and having a bag packed for your impending visit to hospital...but what about being mentally and emotionally prepared? Well, I guess there isn't really anything that can truly prepare one for the earth shattering undertaking that is becoming a parent, it doesn't matter what books you read, or what your friends tell you, it's something that can only be experienced first hand.
18 months into this parenting journey and I realize that ever since Bean was born i've slowly but surely been transforming myself. Everything changes when you create a life, your routine changes, your house shifts around, and your schedule goes out the window along with your social life and self image! So it makes sense that as people we dramatically change as well, and no one ever said change was easy. I now see the newborn haze as a stage of metamorphosis, like a caterpillar going into it's chrysalis a new mother goes into the haze to begin her transformation, to let go of the parts of herself that no longer serve and discover new aspects that will help her to emerge, a stronger more diverse version of her previous self. When Bean was about 6 months old, once we'd come through the other side of colic and reflux, things started to shift for me. I gradually began to feel myself as an independent entity from Bean and over the year that followed I slowly edged my way out of my cocoon. Now, for the first time since Bean was born, I feel like I've fully emerged. And whilst I still struggle some days, and definitely have more growing to do, I think i'm finally ready to open my wings and bask in the sunlight.