I decided to see a therapist a few weeks into postpartum. My labor and delivery experience, coupled with baby’s stay in the NICU, seared my heart. I wanted to make sure someone with a professional eye was keeping track of me – when you’re in the throes of new motherhood keeping track of anything feels impossible, especially your self.
Early on she likened the barrage of newness with a newborn to a dance.
“You and baby are learning to dance together,” she said. I felt it as a weaving of my needs and wants with hers, leading and following, a call and response. “When your husband comes home, he also is learning to dance a new dance – one with you, one with her, and then all three of you together.”
In early January, I asked H if he would go with me to a session. That morning, we walked the dog, ate breakfast, showered and left the house to food shop all with baby in tow. We unloaded groceries, ate a quick lunch and piled back into the car for the trip across the city to the session.
Not only did it feel manageable, but it felt pretty magical. We were doing it – living a normal day together as a family of three. Baby A was almost 10 weeks old.
Looking out the 5th story window of the therapist’s office, the sky a piercing blue, I tried to explain this new normal, so new I couldn’t find the words. She mentioned the dancing image again.
Yes, I thought, but it’s more powerful than that. I saw our seamless hand-off of the baby on the changing table, one of us finishing up the diaper while the other took over to dress her. H talked about how the morning wasn’t chaotic, but calm. How we each knew what needed to be done and could flow in and out of tasks, picking up where the other left off, anticipating what the other needed, allowing space for each of us to have our own time.
“Like a flock of birds,” the therapist offered.
I saw us as a family, forming a simple V to take advantage of wind speeds, to share the burden of exhaustion. I saw us as part of a larger swirling vortex, executing swoops and turns on a dime. I saw us nestled in a tree at dusk, crowing as the sun goes down.
All of that opened up a feeling of unity, of ease, that I couldn’t name before.
And just as that image settled in, a flock of seagulls swooped past the office windows, the birds riding the wind in tandem.