I can hear the freezing rain as it hits my bedroom window. I am bouncing on a yoga ball in last night’s pajamas with my seven-week-old baby wrapped on my chest. I am trying to soothe the both of us. Sleep didn’t happen much last night. She slept in fits and spurts and I slept even less, trying to keep her content. It is now 3pm and I am exhausted. She has finally succumbed to sleep. Today, there will be no pictures taken. None posted to social media for the world to judge.
I bounce softly humming You Are My Sunshine. I tried singing it to her but the words got caught in my throat. Tears come easily these days. Lack of sleep and her recent birth have brought all sorts of emotions close to the surface. It doesn’t take much for them to escape. The bags under my eyes are a testament to that. But, the bags are ok, because today, there will be no pictures.
I stop bouncing for a moment to give my body a rest. I take a deep breath in, I can smell her still new head. Tears well up in my eyes. Gratitude and a deep sense of sadness are battling for control. She settles back in and I pull my hair back into a ponytail. How long had it been since I last washed it? Three days, maybe four? It didn’t matter; there would be no pictures today. No, today was for me, for us. Today is too raw with too many emotions vying for my attention.
This is my life, unedited. It is beautiful and amazing and hard and exhausting. Some days are better than others and I try to keep it all in a delicate balance. Otherwise I will be washed up in sadness, brought on by postpartum depression, anxiety, and an ever-growing feeling of isolation. No, today there would be no pictures. No visual reminders of the tough days. No sharing of the darkness. This is for me and me alone.
The baby squirms and repositions herself. She takes a deep breath and releases it with a sigh and a coo. It doesn’t take much digging to find moments of light even in my darkest days. I bounce a little more so she can get the rest she so desperately needs. That I so desperately need. I close my eyes and just enjoy the quiet. There will be no pictures today; they can’t capture the silence anyway.
She stirs again and this time wakes up. She is sad and hungry. I am sure her diaper is wet. I slowly unwrap her and lay her on my bed. She has been fussy for the past three days. She eats, sleeps, and cries. I am guessing a growth spurt is to blame but I still feel helpless. I change her diaper and she makes a funny face mid cry. I can’t help myself and I burst out laughing. I need this release. This levity. She stops crying and gazes straight into my eyes and smiles a big, toothless, full of adoration smile. This time I am the one crying. Maybe today there will be pictures.
I grab my phone and capture her smile. You can see that she had been crying, her face is red and splotchy and there is a tear in the corner of one eye. But, despite all that, she is smiling. At me. With my dirty hair and messy clothes. With my too close to the surface emotions and guilt driven self-doubt, she is smiling at me because none of this matters to her. She loves me so unconditionally and absolutely. The purity of her emotions takes my breath away. I snap a couple more pictures and put my phone down.
There were pictures today. Pictures to remind me that during even the darkest of days, there is a tiny ray of light, a ray of light that doesn’t notice any of my flaws and couldn’t care less if my eyelashes are curled or not. A ray of light that makes the isolation of motherhood a little more bearable, a ray of light that was once just a dream.
Today wasn’t perfect and that is ok. Tomorrow might be better. All I know is that in the midst of the freezing rain and too close to the surface emotions my little girl smiled at me and there were pictures.