I opened the door to the bathroom and released the lavender steam that had built during my shower. KC handed me the baby and I fixed him to my breast, taking care to press lightly on the tender spots of skin, still swollen with new milk. I eased my arms, one at a time, into a navy robe, the one I had bought for labor but had quickly shed during transition because it made me feel sick and uneasy. But for postpartum, it had been perfect.
"You look like a mother, now, holding the baby like that." KC said, smiling up at me from the bed. "Not that you didn't before, but it's grown on you. You've grown into it."
I nodded, agreeing. I felt it in my bones.
"I think that somehow, feeling his birth entirely helped me to shed that final part of grief I felt when I lost my old life. The one I had before I became a mother. It's almost as if I didn't fully believe it until now. But here it is. Here I am."
In an hour, I'll have been a mother of two for exactly one week. This postpartum period has been much better than the first, for a thousand and one reasons. We're home, firstly. Though not quite in a home of our own, we have family nearby, within reach, and friends, too. Folks to keep us fed and warm and comforted. We have received loaves of sourdough bread and soft baked oat bars to keep my milk rich, and soup and puddings and casseroles, too. Food truly is the most wonderful gift to receive during the first forty days. I have been enjoying it slowly, gratefully.
Physically, I feel less pain than I did in the weeks following Aspen's birth. I didn't tear this time, and I think that has helped the healing immeasurably. My bleeding has slowed, my milk has balanced, my head only aches every now and then with that warm kind of foggy fatigue that comes coupled with a new babe.
We are moving slowly, here in our nest. Even with two of us, it takes hours to do the things that a week ago, only took minutes. Aspen has been adjusting as well as you might expect a two year old to adjust to such enormous, fragile things. She is needing, too, and we are being patient with her. Laundry waits wet in the machine until we find a breath to switch it over. Dishes stay caked and soaking until the evening, or the next morning, or the next night. We eat when we can. We touch when we can, gently, with intent. Apologizing for short tempers often. Traversing each tender day with grace, and care, and forgiveness.
I am feeling well. I am feeling loved. And I have so many to thank for that.