The letting go. I remember it well with my first son, and here it is again.
I’m not an exercise nut, but since I was eighteen or so, I’ve done some sort of light exercise most days. Nothing extreme — a brisk walk, or some yoga. I find that time meditative, and I just feel so good afterwards. I’m pretty good about fitting it in, even post-baby. I walk with the baby in a carrier, and I’ve developed a thirty minute yoga routine that I can do while he naps (if I can put him down!) or when my husband comes home. And it’s true — I’d like my pregnancy pouch to dissolve a little, and my folds of flesh to become a little firmer. Before I had children, I was heavy into yoga, and was in the best shape I’d ever been in. I could do things with my body I’d never done before. I felt strong, capable, and balanced.
Since having my second baby, things are even more stretched out than before, and it’s been harder to do all the yoga poses I used to be able to do. I have been unable to include chaturanga as part of my sun salutes, and it’s been frustrating. Each time I lower down, my arms buckle and I just can’t make it. I’ve also been getting recurrent plugged milk ducts, and just yesterday I realized that these plugs coincide exactly with the days I reattempt chaturanga. Upper arm exercises are one of the causes of plug ducts, but it took three episodes of plugs (accompanied by fevers and feeling horrible) to make the connection. I don’t think I wanted it to be true.
Clearly, my body is telling me something here. Not only that I can’t do chaturanga right now, but that I shouldn’t even try for a while. This is not only a good mothering lesson, but a yoga lesson. Yoga is very much about mindfulness, and about being aware of one’s limits. I know there will come a time, in a few months, a year, that my milk production won’t be as extreme as it is now, that my body will have had the time to recover from its second time through pregnancy and birth, and I will be able to do everything I used to do. And I think there’s something to the fact that mothers are meant to remain a little softer for the first year or so of a baby’s life. Our bodies are the ultimate cushions for our babies snuggly bodies, and we’re meant to spend a great deal of time snuggling with these little souls.
Each time I come into plank pose, I want to lower down into chaturnga, and sweep up into upward facing dog. I want that power, that confidence, that grace. I miss it. I crave it.
Also, I want to lie in bed all day gazing at my baby, his huge, wonderous blue eyes, and his chunky, milky thighs. I want this time never to end, I want him never to grow up, I want to rest with him, never leave the bed, never get on the yoga mat.
I want to have it all.
I can’t. It’s as simple as that.
The hardest part is accepting that. And this is just one example, obviously. Each moment of caring for a newborn is so intense, and requires so much relinquishment of control. The breaks are few and the breaks are short. That’s just the way it is.
And the culture around us does not help. The intensity of the mother/baby relationship is not supported and hardly acknowledged. Women are supposed to be able to get back into shape, keep their homes tidy, and go back to work, or at least start to think about it — all while providing loving, attentive care to their babies. Really? How on earth is that all supposed to happen at once?
This time it was easier for me to let go. It’s just my body. It’s just that one yoga move. It will come back. That night, I looked over at my older son, the kindergartener, who last nursed what seems like ages ago, his long legs stretched out in his bed where he slept quite happily, quite separately from my body. And I remembered how soft I was, how soft we were, when he was a baby, and how, without me even realizing it, the extra baby weight fell off, my body become more toned, and he began running and running away from me.
Babyhood is all too brief. I can wait. I can wait.
B. and me on the yoga mat.