Selah & Self Care

I gave birth to my third child 8 weeks and 2 day ago, and am penning this now with his little body nestled against my own. My mind has been flooded with thoughts ever since he was born, and I have felt eager to share them all on this blog.  This season has given me no shortage of material about which to converse: the experiences of home birth, having a doula (for the third time), being cared for by midwives, having a birth photographer, consuming my placenta, binding my belly, healing in the postpartum, finding my plans unfulfilled in numerous ways — during birth and postpartum — and of course, juggling motherhood, marriage, and work. I have typed some of what I have learned, and prepared to hit “publish.”

Then, I pause.

There is a time for everything, I remember, and a rhythm to life that ebbs and flows between creativity and quiet.  My impulse is creative.  I crave making and writing and the opportunity to give away all of the information I have learned (often the hard way).  There is something about giving birth and becoming a mother that just awakens new perspectives that feel irresistible to share.

Let’s start with birth, for wonder’s sake!  I met my child, saw the gender for the first time, and felt God’s accomplishment through the vessel of my own body!  How can I not share with you about my birth?!  I will.

There is a frequently recurring word in the psalms called “selah.” Though its meaning is not completely certain, it marks a time of rest between stanzas.  After the phenomenon of birth, I feel a “selah” is called for in my life.  I have needed time to let the awe of my experiences steep in my mind.  The opportunity to become a mother doesn’t come around every day.  There is no way I would leap through this time without choosing to be mesmerized by what I witnessed in giving birth, and to be mesmerized by the tiny miracle for which I am now responsible,

Selah.

I also hesitate to publish my thoughts because one of my perspective shifts is that I am humbled by how little I am realizing I actually know.

In my third child’s birth, I brought with me the experience of being a professional birth worker, plus the experience of my older two children’s births.  I felt more calm, capable, and uninhibited than in either of my older children’s births, and in the end, my body excelled, and my baby was healthy.  I should think that now, I really know birth, right?

No.  I remember that there are amazingly wise, extremely healthy women, who surround themselves with the best support and care for their pregnancy and labor, and still end up having shocking, dissapointing, and traumatic birth experiences.  I may (in some ways, at least) fit a midwife’s textbook model for birth, but I am fortunate.  I can try to reason why, but ultimately, I do not want to claim to know what may just be a mystery.  I pray that on the day I share all I have learned about how to birth effectively, I do not lose sight of these women and the potential for events to go awry under even the best of circumstances.

Selah.

I am officially through with my 6 week postpartum period, but I still transform.  The feat of growing and sustaining life for 40 weeks was remarkable, labor was awesome, and now I can smile as I wear my old clothes again.  However, they fit differently than before.  It is a reminder to me that this postpartum year commands my attention, and not merely at  the gym.  I am still healing in some ways — learning more about this baby and myself each day.  I remember my ongoing transformation happens alongside that of my growing baby, and that I can not separate from this baby for long without ignoring a cosmic design.

All the meanwhile, I know that a new stanza of my life is on the way.  I promise, when I get to that stanza, I will publish the birth story, I will share my newfound knowledge about birth and postpartum, and I will do my best to keep my own experiences in check with their place among those of every other birthing woman and mother.  I want to bring my best self to that stanza, so for today, I honor this quiet time with selah.

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