This time last year, I wasn't even sure if I was ready for motherhood.
As a freelancer, I spent 90% of my week working alone. I chose how I spent my time. I could say yes to work that interested me, and decline projects that didn't. How would I possibly adapt to the ever-changing, always urgent demands of a newborn? There were no deadlines, no wrap-ups, no closed books—this next season was a lifelong responsibility. Even in the last weeks, when I reflected on how to finish well, I was mourning the looming loss of independence.
Well, the little one is here now, and something very interesting has happened. I thought my battle would be one of spirit—that I needed to will myself to selflessness and self-discipline. But my body knew better.
Even when I am past exhaustion—when I would not, could not rationally get up for anyone—the baby cries and my arm pushes back the sheet. My legs swing over the bed. I've already lifted her out of the bassinet and onto the change pad before my blood pressure swirls my vision, struggling to catch up and I wonder how I even managed the superhuman feat.
When she's sleeping past feeding time and I'm engrossed in something that feels important, my chest cramps and the milk letdown reminds me of a different priority.
Oddly, there is no struggle of will. Sure, I have moments of irritation and disappointment, wishing I could actually sit down and finish something without getting interrupted by a diaper change. Wishing I could run errands without the ball (babe) and chain (feeding schedule).
Maybe it was those three sleepless nights in the hospital, when the rigamarole of hourly nurse check-ins reset my brain to permanent alertness.
I am no longer alone with my thoughts. There is one bastion tower overlooking all my grey matter, with a spyglass permanently fixed on her. It sees every twitch. It classifies every cry into one of three urgent categories: Love Me, Feed Me, Change Me.
MY body no longer functions for MY primary benefit: even the previously reigning hunger drive that used to regulate my energy has been relegated to a back burner. Meals become more of an strategic decision rather than a physical instinct. I eat when it is convenient. How strange. How powerful.
The self-discipline I thought I lacked, the shallow well of compassion I could never seem to deepen, flows long and far from somewhere when she cries and cries inconsolably.
I couldn't honestly tell you how I manage to sing the same song ten times in a row, when it would drive a regular person crazy. I can only tell you that I do it, because then she stops crying. Somehow, new instincts have replaced the old ones, so swiftly I didn't even have time to say goodbye.
Blessedly, my brain has regained some of its computing power. I believe it worked harder growing that baby, cell by cell, than any university course or workplace project I completed. Now that it is *only* responsible with the simple tasks of producing milk and nurturing a newborn, I can think. I can work. I can build.
And as my body recovers from the rigours of pregnancy and childbirth, her ever-chubbying cheeks are growing proof that we are doing this.
We are both growing.