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Freedom

When we first moved to this town it rained for 32 days straight.

I was working from home, and Adam had a full-time job that he needed to take our only vehicle to every day. I was left stranded by the rain and the lack of transportation and the intimidating newness of everything around me.

I remember it as an incredibly isolating time. I was desperately lonely but also too shy to go out and meet people. I’ve never been much of a joiner, a do-er, so for those first 32 days my big excitement was when Adam got home at the end of the day and the outings I made every few days or so when I would bundle up and brave the downpour to walk to the little strip mall a few blocks away. There was a Starbucks, the usual assortment of odds and ends shops, and a Canadian Tire.

I spent hours wandering around the aisles of that Canadian Tire, pretending to look at lawn furniture, seasonal decorations, dishes, garbage pails. I needed this small outing to keep sane, to remind myself that other people existed in the world, to remind them of my existence.

To remind myself. 

Today I was reminded of that feeling, those first 32 days of rain.

It could be because we’re heading into that same season, those same grey months with white skies and never ending wet, but I think it’s the isolation that’s calling back those memories.

Olive is nursing every 2-3 hours, and I love her funny face, her furry little head, those dark eyes and weird facial expressions. But they’re not kidding when they say that newborns are needy little creatures – today Adam left for work at 12:30 and when he returned at 6pm I had not moved an inch from where he left me.

My day was nursing, burping, changing, sneaking out from under a sleeping baby to pee, eat one-handed, then being summoned back to nursing.

It was the first time since we had her that I felt trapped- I lay there for six hours doing this sweet little dance, this monotonous rinse and repeat and I began to wonder if I’d ever be able to leave the house again. I wondered if my boobs would ever feel like mine again, would ever feel sexual or attractive or fun, rather than utilitarian. Vessel-like.

When Adam got home he could tell I was feeling it. I finished feeding her for the umpteenth time and handed her to him, put on a shirt that didn’t need to have easy breastfeeding access (the novelty of a high neckline! a form-fitting shape!), I grabbed the car keys and lit out.

It was exactly like those 32 days. I headed to our nearest big box store and wandered around aimlessly for half an hour. I ignored my aching incision and aching breasts and I just rambled through the aisles looking at crap I had no intention of buying. It was completely and utterly fantastic.

I’m surprising myself with the type of mother I am becoming. I’m about a million times less neurotic and controlling than I anticipated, but also less desperately attached. Pre-Olive, I secretly harboured fears that I would be one of those moms, the ones with four-year olds they’ve never spent a night away from. I thought I’d have to pry myself away from my child, be convinced to leave her for even a short while.

I didn’t anticipate the scene today, didn’t think I’d be here desperate to hand my little girl off to Adam just so I could stroll around anonymously in a giant store where no one needed anything, no one knew I was a mother, no one knew I had a three week old baby at home. This freedom was so small and trifling-pathetic even- but I needed it today; today it saved me, filled me up enough that I was able to go home happily to that furry-headed little girl and begin the process again – nurse, burp, change, rock.

Repeat.

I’m also surprised by how Adam and I are doing as parents. We have so little in common, differ so greatly in so many ways, I wasn’t sure how well we’d come together in this, what must indubitably be a team effort.

I am prone to keeping score, creating pissing contests. I imagined us at 3am with a screaming baby, arguing over whose turn it was to change her dirty diaper. And we did have one such ugly moment, one exchange yesterday morning where I needed his help and was spitting ugly things about how much he’d been up the night before versus how much I had. He replied angrily, “Oh yeah I forgot it’s about you, it’s always about you.” and then we locked eyes and suddenly it felt like we were playing roles, me the role of exhausted mother, him the henpecked husband.

It wasn’t us. He took Olive and I took a shower and we apologized. That was the first (and hopefully last) I’ve seen of those people, those strange roles that don’t quite fit our frames. The words that don’t suit our mouths.

Adam is an incredible father. I’m all nursing and cooing, and he’s dancing her around to dubstep music. We’re doing it. Somehow through the lack of sleep and tears and aching bodies, we’re doing it. And loving it.

My brother asked at one point about the elusive “…but it’s all worth it.” caveat that seems to conclude every parental horror story out there. He expressed doubt and incredulity that it could be worth it, wanted more details about how, why.

As I sit here tireder than I’ve ever been, looking another sleepless night in the eye, heartbroken that I’ve run out of painkillers and feeling every stabbing shard of that loss, I can’t help him out any. I can’t explain how all of this is cancelled out by that one look Olive does where her eyes cross and her chin doubles and she bobbles around, utterly milk-drunk. Or how sometimes an angelic half-smile crosses her face, and just when you’re thinking how sweet and lovely she is, she audibly poops herself.

Or how it feels to watch the man I met ten years ago as a lanky university student cradle his daughter while he dances around in circles, absorbed in the nuances of her changing expressions.

I wish I was a better writer to be able to explain the how, the why. At the moment, in this state all I can do is second the sentiment, underscore it with every fibre of my being- it is so, SO worth it.

      

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