All I’ve Felt Was Leading to This
For I have never known completeness
like being here.
Here is true peace.
Here my heart knows calm.
It’s a beautiful summer here, home with my boys, taking it easy, visiting & having friends over.
For the most part, my thoughts these days are dominated by two things: straight-up obsessing over Owen’s birth experience and being annoyed over Enneagram types.
Tuesday marked six weeks postpartum— the dreaded final midwife appointment and the end of my self-permitted “unlimited comfort eating” period. I also went to my first (for this pregnancy) pelvic floor physiotherapy appointment yesterday. I’ve got a three-finger abdominal muscle separation to work on and several exercises to complete multiple times daily for other assorted issues down there. Last night I whipped up a spreadsheet on which I can indicate when I’ve done them because we all know I’m roughly 100% more likely to do something if I can check it off a list.
The physiotherapist and I discussed Owen’s birth for diagnostic purposes and she lamented that the midwife with whom she delivered her own son had moved to Calgary and would not be able to support her again if she had a second baby. She mentioned her suspicion that hormones might play a part in how much we feel bonded with the women helping us in labour and I felt incredibly vindicated because YES! I have thought the very same for weeks now. The feelings are so strong.
“Obsessed” is really not overstating the situation. I think about Owen’s birth day and night. It wasn’t like this last time— Adam’s birth felt like something that just happened to me and then was over. Of course Tom was there, but with the epidural, active labour was just me lying there with strangers keeping tabs on the fetal monitor. Then came the forceps and the menagerie of staff— then Adam was here and I fell in love between looking at him and throwing up from the morphine. In the days afterwards I was so injured, so busy thinking about how afraid I was for the future— that I would never fully recover physically. In the moments I tried to cheer myself up, I thought repeatedly about how we used to go to Brewsters after church and how fun those days were. It’s funny what your brain dredges up in duress. But for sure, thinking about Adam’s birth was no particular comfort.
This time was just the opposite completely. The pain of labour seems to have imposed some degree of erasure and my memories of the experience exist in flashes. I certainly can’t account for two hours at the hospital before Owen was born. During transition, the pain was a living thing and there was no room for anything else. Really, a perfect furtherance of this pregnancy’s ongoing metaphor: “There’s nothing— no veil between me and the ring of fire.” I couldn’t remember any birth affirmations. I couldn’t see any faces because it felt best to be on all fours and holding onto the bed frame. So there were just the guiding voices from behind me and around me, the beautiful calm voices.
Is it not oxytocin coursing through you at the time? Once Owen was born, it was all over. Pregnancy was over, childbirth was over. I lay down and held my baby and saw my people. The feeling of relief bathed me and I do think I fell in love with everyone in the room; not strangers this time, familiar faces, beautiful faces.
The lights were so bright in the room while Megan D did my stitches; I wore an eye mask. Megan W was beside me. Tom was holding Owen. I was shaking but it was peaceful, there was a hot blanket and the calm voices discussing. If there was a male midwife would he be a midhusband? No, because midwife means “with woman”. The eye mask soaked up my tears. With woman. So beautiful.
A few days later I was walking around in the backyard with Adam in the morning. He was laughing and playing with his bubble gun. It was quiet and there was a little smoke in the air, making the sunlight pink— all in all, it felt like a movie epilogue. I looked at the hospital on the horizon and it hit me at once— the finality of it all. It was done. I did it. I cried over the beauty of the moment.
It occurs to me that I cry over the beauty of a moment rather often. As I see it, a very Four thing to do. But I thought I was a One. Enneagram types— Matt brought them up again a couple months ago and after much personal study, I am left annoyed at being unable to solve my own type.
Doing things “right” is irresistible to me. I want to be good and above reproach. Criticism is natural, like breathing. A broad sense of mission is surely present, and now as a mother I feel in tune with my own personal legend. I love precise language. I love improving things, organization, and being on time. And if a One’s prime sin is anger manifesting as resentment then yes, I’m a One. But I don’t consider myself an activist at all or feel equipped to change the world. I’m not emotionally constrained and I think I procrastinate too much to be a one. As a mother I’m a workaholic but at my office jobs I certainly wasn’t.
I wrote type Four off at first because I’m not dark or depressive at all. I like to blend in with crowds, rarely feel envy, and don’t believe in suffering for your art. And yet, reading about certain aspects of the Four’s inner life have made me feel embarrassed and exposed, like being called out. I do idolize people, I do fantasize about being able to sing or play an instrument for an audience. I do appreciate beauty. A well-crafted phrase, a perfect analogy is like coming up for air. If Fours do tame the chaos of life surrounding them by funneling it into writing, then yes, I’m a Four.
So what happened here, because I thought you have a core type and growing up doesn’t change it. Am I just a maudlin One? Am I really a Four and my mother is a One and her voice throughout my childhood became my superego when I took on her wife & mother role for myself? I need to overthink it for a while longer before making a full Enneagram post.
Hard to believe it’s almost August already. I wish this summer could last forever.
(cover image by Alan Lee of course)