When we’re giving birth and becoming parents, we often forget to breathe. As we’re anticipating the shift into motherhood, focusing on making it as perfect as possible, and waiting for it to all fall into place, we wait with bated breath. This week’s guest blogger, Elena Brower, shares with us the important bond that she and her son built after birth. The bond that allowed them trust in each other, that gave them peace, and that allowed them both to relax and enjoy the invaluable experience of birth, and the relationship a mother has with her child.
Somehow, two days have passed. I’m in a hospital bed, listening to myself breathe in the middle of the night, watching the lights of New York City twinkling outside. The impossible scent of my hours-old son asleep on my chest is making me grin, despite the ache of healing my abdomen. I’d become feverish after 30 hours of laboring with miconium present; the baby had started showing signs of dangerous exhaustion. Instead of dwelling in disappointment, I use the sound of each inhalation as a reminder that the journey from the Birth Center to a fully rigged hospital bed to motherhood was one of necessity and sweetness, and that it profoundly strengthened me. Each exhalation is intended to infuse me and my newborn with trust. Nothing else exists.
Somehow, two weeks have passed. With my son asleep in a sling across my chest, I am currently placing salt-water shot glasses over each nipple to keep infection and pain at bay. Make no mistake; this is funny. I’m laughing at myself in the mirror, surrounded by homeopathic remedies and essential oils and the breast pump, when I hear myself breathing again. I take a deep inhalation and send healing light into my belly, easing the sting in my nipples. I exhale long, finding confidence in myself; I decide to rest, trusting that I will have enough milk for Jonah and some humor leftover for my husband, despite the fact that I’ve embarrassingly not made the bed yet. And it’s 4 pm.
Somehow, two months of motherhood have passed. My breastfeeding is much easier, though I am still married to that pump. I’ve just spent eight weeks with Jonah sleeping on my chest every night, waking to feed him in the darkness and silence of the night. The weight of this baby’s body is making me stronger, fortifying my arms and abdomen. He has already begun smiling and turning over. I am convinced that allowing Jonah to sleep on me thus far has been of great benefit to both of us, but my intuition tells me we’re ready. I’m about to put him down in his perfect little oval crib for the first time — and I cannot breathe. He begins to nod off and I inhale, inviting clarity. When I exhale, I send this clarity directly into his heart, and somehow I can feel his trust. And time goes on. Somewhere in the space of an exhale, I become a mother.
Elena Brower, Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher, is the founder and co-owner of Virayoga, and mama to 4-year-old Jonah. Teaching for more than 13 years, she’s been featured in the New York Times, Yoga Journal, FitYoga and the Element Yoga Beginner DVD series.