Dear new mother,
Allow me to welcome you to another slice of the reality that is now your life; it is possible that you may still be in the haze of awe and disbelief.
You may still be basking in the glow of being praised or congratulated for having birthed the little human that you hold so protectively in your arms throughout the day.
Your body may still be throbbing from the warfare of childbirth and your mind may be running with a thousand and one ideas on how to take care of yourself, your husband, your little human and the clan of people that childbirth so disrespectfully brings barging through your home. You may still not have had time to process it, but things are about to change in a way you probably never imagined.
Allow me to let you in, piece by piece.
The truth of who you are and all that you have known is about to be challenged. This glorious birth will take you to dark alleys in your memory. Do you remember the first time that you were grabbed in the dark by that uncle of yours? You were what? Seven? Eight? But he must have seen rising mountains where the flat valleys of your chest were. He must have seen the aura of ripe womanhood around you when he crushed you against himself and forced your lips back into an unwanted kiss.
Do you still remember the silence? The wonder at what was going on? the shock? You knew that it was wrong and yet you kept quiet. No one had trained you for this. No one had told you that men who liked young girls roamed around in familiar bodies. You carried it around with you like a book filled with black magic. It was to be opened on days when you were alone with your thoughts and each time you opened it, it cast a spell of darkness over you.
Do you remember the uncle? The neighbour? The family friend in the boy’s quarters? The fat frumpy primary five teacher who was nearly your favourite until he wasn’t? They all left their mark on you in your journey to womanhood – a journey that was riddled with silence; one that did not allow you to think too deep or to ask too many questions.
Dear mother, now the depth of darkness is stirred. Now, you will sit with your demons as you hold that soft, squishy body close to you in a room filled with baby powder and the smell of fear.
You will feel things that no one will name for you; like wanting to run away and hide forever; like wanting to take a razor to your wrists and watch the blood flow; like wanting to rake your body, your fragile broken body, with knives until you bleed.
You will feel things that woman before you have felt but have been silent about because ‘strong’ is the cape they tighten around their drooping necks.
You will not know, until things fall apart, that postpartum depression is the pretty name they have for what you are experiencing. But even when you find a name, no one will tell you, that for women like us whose bodies were discovered by monsters, postpartum depression hits differently.
The memories of groping hands, prying fingers, playful caresses – those memories that you pushed into the far recess of your mind will come back with a vengeance. You will not realize that you were too busy trying to escape the darkness, that you harboured it inside you until you became the darkness.
Having this baby will make you have the relationship you never wanted to have with your body.
You will have to be tender with it. The CS scar will hurt like you got hit by an unknown force. But you will have to drag yourself to the room or the toilet and clean it gently, lifting flaps of your deflated stomach up to get to it.
You will have to take care of the blood that flows from your vagina. It will not be shoving a pad down every month and timing the mornings and evenings, no, this blood calls for you to respond almost every hour. You will have to interact with the part of you that you always felt made you a curse, made you less human, made you a target.
Your breasts that were literally non-existent before the flow of milk become the breasts of your dreams, and they will force you to look at them. In them, you will notice slopes and lines. You will know things like colostrum, how to pump milk four times a day so that your little human will have food to eat for the days that you have to be away. You will have to touch yourself in a tender, sensitive and caring way because it will make the difference between whether you heal or break.
Dear mother, you will soon understand that you were existing. That you were a player in the script that life had written for you and you had tweaked so that you would survive. You were living outside your body for years until this little human came along.
You will understand, with time, that your baby’s coming pushed you to interact with a version of yourself that you did not want to: the wounded version. It will be hellish. The people who were meant to understand and travel the long road with you will not. You will be lonely. You will cry a lot and will think about ending it almost all the time. I want you to know that in spite of all that, you will make it through to the other side. You will be so strong and it will take a while for you to realise just how strong you were. Your circle of friends and your family will be such a crutch that you will understand how intentional God is about you.
Dear mother, in the future, you are healed. You have found your way back to purpose and back to life. You are in love with the body that you once fought with. There will be days when you are in awe of the power your body has and days when the scars of abuse and childbirth will threaten to become fresh wounds.
In this future, you have learned the art of sitting with those scars and laying them down at Abba’s feet. He heals all wounds, and he has healed yours. At the end of the day, what you will find out is that the road to the discovery of who you truly are starts with acknowledging that you don’t have it together and that you need help.
Welcome to wholeness.