Why I Cry When I Bring Home Baby
I have a confession. Some of you I know in “real life” know this fact about me already.
I cry when I leave the hospital after having a baby.
I cry getting my little sweet pea dressed. I cry as I put her (or him) in the car seat. I get myself together and manage just to sniffle as I walk down the hallway to the exit. I silently sob looking out the window all the way home.
Some of you have told me you do this funny thing, too…that you shed tears at this incredibly joyous occasion even while gazing at your gorgeous baby…this glorious gift from God. Thanks for being real with me. I appreciate that. It helps.
I usually stop crying when I get home. I am still emotional, but I don’t really want my kids to think I’ve lost it so I reserve any random sobs for my husband’s perplexed eyes after the kids are in bed.
Many of you may not understand. That’s ok. In fact, I am sure it makes no sense to many of my friends who know the overwhelming pain of miscarriages, stillbirths, and infertility.
Like any one of my amazing clients I do this thing where I try really hard to think my way out of these tears. I mean…REALLY HARD. I think, like most of us, that if I can just FIGURE. THIS. OUT…then I will avoid this awkward emotional phase.
Well, here’s the truth. I haven’t figured it out, but I think I have enough thoughts on it to give myself some grace for the tears.
Even so. I would still cry.
Because figuring out the “why’s”, the “reasons”, the “what the heck was that all about’s” doesn’t erase pain…no matter how badly we want it to.
Understanding does seem to take the edge off of difficult emotions so the process of wrestling to THINK through things is not entirely unproductive.
So, here is what I THINK.
Hormones not withstanding, here is why I cry bringing baby home.
Some of it may have to do with the fact that two days in the hospital is almost like a vacation from the demands of a home with little children tugging at your every moment every day. I might cry in part because I am so sad that my “vacay” is over! You think I am joking. Anyway, I don’t think that reason is even half of it. I think there is way more.
First there is the disorientation. After nine months of anticipating, expecting, and waiting…the change, the birth, the new life is here in the blink of an eye…at a pace that produces emotional whiplash. It is difficult to keep pace with the changes whirring around me. The changes in sibling positions, the changes in mother identity, the changes in the marriage, the changes in career. There are gains and losses…and a complete disorientation. And, I cry.
Then there is that annoying fact of life. The moments after a baby is born are some of the most fleeting times in our experiences as parents. Of course, time does not actually slow down or speed up, but if there were moments that we could stall…moments we could capture…surely this magical time of newborn-ness would be one such instant.
But we can’t.
It is a harsh reality. Time marches on. And, I don’t think I am ever more in touch with that fact than after a baby…one of my babies…is born.
I have been waiting for this person for nine months.
Can’t the welcome party last a little bit longer?
Can’t everyone else stop what they are doing and recognize this incredibly huge thing for a while?
In a lot of ways it is like other monumental moments in a lifetime. We think everyone in the world should stop and be aware, but as I drive home I notice that people are still making bank deposits and running into the grocery store to buy milk and bread.
Life goes on…just when I want it to stop for just a moment so I can catch my breath…and snuggle that little baby neck a little longer.
The postpartum period doesn’t really allow you to “work” or “numb” yourself out of these moments either. You are sore, bleeding, and just about bed ridden…at least for a few days…and so you are forced to sit in the tension of this beautiful, amazing, hard transition…this other form of labor. You are forced to tolerate the painful emotional contractions of your own birth as a mother. Not much to numb out to. No epidural in sight.
But here is what I KNOW from experience…not just from what I read in books or know in my head.
I know that beauty mingles with these tears. I know that this beautiful, amazing, hard, precious, magical time comes to an end. That knowledge is comforting, sad, sweet, and sobering. It is the kind of knowing that brings more tears…and more hopes and dreams and aspirations and anticipation.
This season…its tears and “fourth trimester” laboring and infant neck snuggling…will come to an end.
I…and you… can tolerate it. You can do it. Whether you are a first time mother or a fourth timer like me. That fourth trimester is a birthing for any mother. I am becoming HILLARY’S mother and no one else’s. And, don’t forget that there is a father being born, too. That has labor pains of its own.
You…and I…can “push” through. And, it is ok to cry…and laugh and sleep and question and get anxious… through the pains of these fourth trimester, mother-birthing kinds of contractions, too.
I guess the experiences of these truths are more acutely experienced during the actual physical birth of a child.
I am also guessing that we go through some of these emotions in many kinds of “births”…transitions, changes, victories, celebrations….gains and losses.
No matter how great a change is… a birth, a transition, a victory, a celebration, a gain, a loss…we still have to recover…from the disorientation. And, we still have to get back to life as normal…even after this incredibly momentous thing has occurred.
Living life back to normal is a pretty courageous thing to do. To go back to “life as usual” after change…after a gain or a loss.
The starts and finishes are so much more exhilarating. We would love to just stay there in those beginnings and endings…or create more of them so we never have to live “life as usual”.
I am learning to live “life as usual” as a new mother once again. It will take me a while to get back to it…back to helping Jon make lunches for the other kids, back to work, back to regularly attending activities, back to the “life as usual” Emily…back to ME.
Part of me YEARNS for “life as usual”…and part of me NEVER wants to leave this “welcome party”…the infant neck snuggles. And, in that emotional disorientation, confusion, and tension…
And, that is ok.