Women tend to be portrayed one of two ways in Hollywood. Way one- damsel in distress. (Mary Jane in Spider Man) Way two- kick ass heroine. (Diana Prince in Wonder Woman) New “mommyhood” feels a lot like donning the role of Mary Prince in the new hit Spider Woman.
My water broke exactly 3 weeks and 6 days before it was supposed to. I was getting back into bed at 3am after getting up to go to the bathroom for the second time that hour. And at that moment Diana Prince took over. I hurriedly finished packing my hospital bag, surprisingly remembering everything I would need. We were admitted into Labor and Delivery immediately upon walking into the ER. I started dilating hours before expected, getting to 5 cm unmedicated; most of that time I was alone due to an error in judgement on the nurse’s end. I confidently demanded an epidural and began mentally preparing for the grand finale of the day. By 6:30 pm I was dilated past 10 and ready to push. Music was blasting. I was completely focused. My baby was ready to enter this world, and I was going to get him here safely.
I pushed for 2 hours. And then Mary Jane took over. My body failed me. I lost a lot of blood. I had some complicated repairing ahead of me. I didn’t realize this, but Scotty later told me I was shaking uncontrollably. I wanted to see my baby, but after hearing his first cry, holding him for just over 60 seconds, and watching Scotty cut the cord, he was immediately rushed to the NICU. I didn’t know his height or weight. If you asked me to point to a picture of my son, I wouldn’t have been able to. I was wrecked. And weak. And worried.
In the next few days, we got lots of good news. Logan John, although a premie, was doing well and did not need any machines to assist him earth-side. He could go home with us. My postpartum preclampsia was under control. My stitches would eventually heal.
And once we got home, I had to step into this world in which I would always be part Diana Prince, the heroine who my son would be able to count on, part Mary Jane, the damsel who would need someone to step in when I am too weak to carry myself, let alone my family. Mommyhood has built me up and torn me down routinely these past 9 weeks, and I have learned that I have to be honest with myself and the people closest to me as I use the ruble to build the skyscraper.
The people-pleaser I used to be doesn’t exist anymore because everything I have is used up on my son and husband. Whatever is left, I’m sorry to say, has to be mine.
The planner in me. Ya, she’s gone. That person used to have social events scheduled months in advance. Now, if I can shower, get someone to watch the baby, pump, find clothes that actually fit, and have slept relatively enough, I’ll maybe be there.
I like things the way I like things. I like my laundry to be done. I like the house to be clean. I like the groceries to be stocked. To make all of that happen takes a whole new level of dedication and energy. I have to give up precious, ever so valuable, sleep to make those things happen. Or I have to do them with a baby strapped to me. Or I have to ask someone else to do them for me. Or they don’t get done and I cry because, well, I want chocolate and all of my bras are dirty.
My life is different. I am not the same. And if you know me and love me, please get to know this new version of me and learn to love her. Because I am stronger than ever, but just as much weaker. And my life has gotten infinitely more beautiful, but endlessly messier.
Mommyhood, at least for me, has meant letting go of the person I once was and living in the tension of strength and weakness. Warrior and Damsel. Diana Prince and Mary Jane.