The Mama Letters: Vulnerable
Vulnerable. Around the third day we were in the hospital after Will was born, this was the word that came to me. Vulnerable.
I felt so bloody vulnerable. So needy. So dependent. And I hated it.
Emotionally, the waterworks had opened up. I was crying at everything. Half of my tears were happy tears, but I felt broken open, defenseless, raw - everything I felt there for the world to see.
Physically, I was exhausted, weak, and finding it hard to get in and out of bed.
And we had been having trouble getting baby to sleep at night. He was cluster-feeding, unsatisfied by the leisurely colostrum I was producing.. And whereas once he had been content at my breast, now he was fussy. In agony I remember crying because I couldn't even give him that. I wanted so much to be a good mom, to meet his needs, and I felt I couldn't. It seared my heart.
He was losing too much weight (not an uncommon occurrence for newborns), but they pressured us to supplement his feedings with a mix of my own milk and formula. We started a regimen of feeding, then pumping every 3 hours around the clock that left little time to sleep.
I needed my husband so very badly. Not just physically, but emotionally. I needed the help of nurses, of my mother. I hated it - having to ask for this help, having a hard time getting in and out of bed, needing things handed to me, needing people to bring me food, needing help with the baby, needing shoulders to cry on. What I wanted was to be the one giving, the one handling things, the one who had it all together. After all, there was now this little baby who needed me 24-7.
This was when the word vulnerable came to me. The opposite of being self-sufficient, in control. I was broken, and I needed to be, to start to let it be okay to not be large and in charge, to not know it all, to not do it all. The birth was only the beginning of feeling out of control and needy as I embark on raising a child.
Even now, a month later, one of my biggest challenges remains accepting, and being at peace with my own vulnerability and neediness.
God, help me learn how to be vulnerable... Oh wait... I guess you already are...