“The moment a child is born the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
I became a mother at 4:23 in the morning on November 11th. I have been a mother now for a total of five months and 15 days. These mothering days have been filled with the bliss of getting to know this miraculous and adorable little person, kissing soft cheeks, imitating her sweet cooing sounds, making sure she is fed, clothed, and most of all, loved.
I am deeply in love with this daughter of mine, and am also haunted by Orphans that tell me I may not be doing everything right, that I am not living up to being the mother I always dreamed I would be. I realize I am not alone with my fears- that when nearly every new mother is born, she is born with the worry that she won’t know what to do with her fragile child. I find myself caught in a spinning tornado of questions- “How do I trim her tiny nails?” “Is her poop supposed to be THAT color?” “What time should I put her to bed?” “Why does she always cry in the car?” “Am I nursing her too much?” “Is it OK that she is sleeping with us?” “How much tummy time should she have each day?” “Is it normal to never want to leave her?”
Although I recognize some of these questions as my Orphans speaking, I also know that there is a village of mothers that surrounds me, of whom I can ask these questions. I began going to a wonderful class for new moms of infants at a local center called Birthroots. It is a place for community connection, where mothers and families can go to meet new people, and seek support as they begin the journey into motherhood. In my specific class for 0-3 month-olds, Ifound myself sitting in a cozy circle with ten other mothers and their babies, and after only two minutes of hearing some of the other moms speak, I knew that all the questions that I had were completely normal and very common.
In a similar way that I learned to synthesize an overwhelming number of opinions and too much advice about my own fertility before I was pregnant with my daughter, I am again learning to trust my Ultimate Mom about how best to care for my daughter. When I was trying to conceive, I read and re-read The Fertile Female chapter, “The Authority Vested in You.” Julia reminded me through this chapter to “go into myself,” to “contact that place of inner certainty.”
Here I am, learning to do this yet again. As we went around the circle, telling our stories of birth and our struggles of daily life as a new mom it became clear that there are not exact answers to all of the many questions that I had about taking care of my daughter, at least not answers that were true to all babies of this age. The one answer that I kept on getting from the other moms, and from our group facilitator was to “listen to your baby, and trust your instincts as a mother.” There was that word trust again.
I used that word so often on my journey to conceive our child. I learned to trust my body and the fertility expert within me. During my labor, I trusted that my body wouldn’t give me pain I couldn’t handle, and I ended up with the natural birth I had so desired to have. And now, as a new, happy, and fearful mother, I am learning once again to trust my ultimate mom to do what is right for my unique daughter. It seems like everyone has a bit of advice for a new mom, tricks to get the baby to take a pacifier, or sleep through the night, take longer naps, or stop crying in her car seat. Often the advice is different from one person to the next, yet each person seems so confident in her own opinion. This has been yet another indicator for me that many of the answers to my questions can be found from within, as long as I can trust myself and trust in the love I have for my daughter.