Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Date archives April 2016

Family / Motherhood

The Tender Weeks

The weeks after birth are interesting. They are a blur of disrupted sleep, healing from the physicality of birth, navigating wildly unpredictable emotions, encountering new challenges, and adjusting to the shifting family dynamics—something that happens with the arrival of every baby whether its baby one, baby two, or baby six. I find the whole thing to be something like an obstacle course run with a blindfold on. There are tumbles and bruises and feeling wildly lost while I’m bumbling along, but there are also sweet, tender, intimate hours of bonding with my new little person and discovering new things about the resilience and abilities of my other kids.

Sometimes I have to laugh at how silly it all is. I am a mother of six children. How did we get here? How did they get here? It has been a blink and a journey all at once.

I am filled with wonder at the beauty of life, at the gift of children, at the untold glories of being a mom. I am also up to my ears in the ocean of newborn-and-lots-of-other-kids’ needs while trying to physically and emotionally recover from childbirth myself.

A few nights ago, I conversed with a sweet friend who gave birth to her fifth child, also at home, about two weeks after my little guy’s birth. She recounted her arduous natural labor, her tender first days afterward, and the struggle to process both the beauty and terror of her experience. I resonated with every last word even though I have already started to forget. It has only been five weeks, but the memory of the most horrible parts of labor are already fuzzy. I’m still tender, for sure, but I am healing—thanks to the generous support of the community around me. There have been meals, gifts, prayers, helpers, and maybe most importantly, listening ears.

Four days old

The conversation reminded me about how incredibly important it is for women to process their birth experiences in the weeks and months following—for their own inner healing. This is true for mamas who experience unexpected trouble during the birth process and those who experience heartbreaking losses, but I also think it is important for mamas who have a normal labor and a perfectly healthy child in their arms afterward. I know for me, with special regard to my unmedicated labors, the births were beautiful, but they were also traumatic. Being able to share the story (sometimes again and again) with trusted friends, to acknowledge the hard parts for what they were, and to give voice to the fears I fought against in order to welcome my child into the world make all the difference in my well-being post-partum. Talking about the pain and the fear somehow lessens their hold on my long-term memory, and helps me move forward into wholeness.

I think maybe this goes for other parts of life too. Sometimes talking about the hard things we’ve been through makes a way for healing to find its way into deep places. If something comes to your mind when you read that, maybe you could use a compassionate friend to listen to your story? If there is anything I will always make time for, it is this very thing. If that is where you’re at, ring me anytime, or find a trustworthy person to share with. It is important. You are important.

“When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5

1221. glorious sunshiny days, 1222. park adventures with six, 1223. our collapsible wagon that makes park days possible, 1224. time with friends that fills me up, 1225. surviving birthday month, 1226. baby smiles that started Easter morning, 1227. some longer sleep stretches, 1228. new (free) cabinet for storage, 1229. successful writing time, 1230. new tunes