Thursday, April 28, 2011

During Jamie & Celia's maternity leave we asked a few of our favorite moms from around the internet if they would help fill the space with their wisdom. We asked for their thoughts on being a new mom, motherhood in general, or maybe something that really suprised them (no one told me that!). Please welcome Kristina!

Hello Hank & Lucy readers! This is so exciting because me guest-posting means that Hank & Lucy are here! Or nearly here. Hugest congrats to mamas Jamie and Celia!

I've been thinking about what sort of advice I could possibly give to new moms out there that they haven't already heard 1M times. You know, nap when the baby is napping (true!), rest, don't try to do too much, accept help when offered, live in the moment because moments turn into days and months so quickly, try to make a tiny bit of time for yourself once in a while, etc etc etc. All of which are totally 100% time tested and true.

But most of us don't end up following that advice to the letter. Because there are always dishes to do, showers to be had, beds to be made, and sometimes you just wish your baby was a little bit older so he could do this or that or sleep longer or sit up or be mobile. It's just the nature of your first experience as a mother, I suppose. So maybe I won't give you any advice, instead maybe I will just share a part of my experience. The most remarkable part, for me.

What is impossible to prepare for, utterly enveloping, and completely unavoidable is the love. The extraordinarily deep, scary intense, gut-wrenching, rip-your-heart-out-and-wear-it-pinned-to-your-chest love, that appears without warning in the days and months that follow the birth of your child. In fact love actually seems like too small of a word. Too worn and used in so many other ways. This is something different and real and visceral. Something that feels so big and so true, it's hard to describe.

I was sorely unprepared for how the birth of my son would change me. It's as if the axis of my little universe suddenly and irreversibly shifted. I've read many times that having a child feels like watching your heart walk around outside your body. THAT is the truth. And it can be terrifying. I go down dark scary holes thinking about all the "what-ifs" for my little heart, and I wish I didn't but I don't understand how one avoids that? Your most vital organ is now out in the world, swinging on swings, climbing stairs, scraping his knees, eventually growing into a teenager (!), completely unprotected by your body. It's a wonder mothers survive the emotional upheaval.

Do you know what scares me more? Having another. Really. I don't think I'm ready to handle having my mind blown all over again. Jora left me a comment the other day that said "… you are about to find out that a mother's love is exponential." Exponential! That means that if you have three kids you don't have three times as much love. You have love to the power of three. Which is like, whoa. But it is wonderful to feel this deeply.

I can't even fathom what more of this would be like. But I can't wait to find out. You know what motherhood is? It's a drug.

Photograph by Deb Schwedhelm


  1. So wonderfully put, Kristina! Motherhood is a drug of the very best kind. This post reminds me of one about having a baby for the first time from Her Bad Mother.

    "Then we know – if only for a moment, for one long, sweet moment – what it is to be more than one, to be one plus, to have split open and spilled out our blood and our viscera and our spirit and gathered it all back up again in our arms and held it, tight, pressed it to our chests, felt it throbbing and squirming and to have known, to know, what it is to hold one’s soul in one’s arms."

    Congratulations, Jamie and Celia!

  2. Exactly. It is a drug. Hallucinatory, fierce, and addictive.

  3. beautifully written kristina. this love is humbling and overflowing. i'm so grateful for the experience. and jora, beautiful quote. wow!! you guys have me all teary today!

  4. So wonderful and scary as I head towards my first.

  5. God, that is so true. Heart outside body.

  6. Amazing, Kristina. This totally made me cry. And yes, the best (and maybe even worst) part of all this is how SCARY this love truly is.

  7. Lovely!!
    Thanks for putting it all so perfectly into words.