The past few months have (and haven’t) changed a lot of things for me. In the nine months leading up to the birth of my daughter, I was possessed with a frantic urge to get everything done, and I’m not just talking general nesting; I had no idea what life would look like once she was born, and so I wanted to make sure I had met all my professional commitments before going into labor. I took five books through an intense editorial process, getting them all ready for scheduled releases in the months following her birth, and I worked my way through two more intense course of my MFA. In the back of my mind, I think I thought that if I could overdo it before becoming a mom, I could hold onto my sanity in the initial weeks if I didn’t have the time or the brain capacity to write with a newborn. And in a way, I was partly right.
It was a good thing that I wrapped up so many commitments, but it was crazy of me to think that that meant I’d be able to unplug and just focus on being a mom when the time came; there were still deadlines waiting for me, still books to promote, still new releases to try to focus on in the days and months after her birth. Add into that the fact that my desktop crashed in a spectacular way, and I was not on as solid ground as I’d hoped.
Then came the reality of labor, healing, and of having a baby who, although she’ll sleep in her basinet at night, will only nap if she’s in someone’s arms.
For the first month, I barely survived. I still met all my writing deadlines, and I fed the child, but I also cried every day, dark, heavy sobs that frightened me more than I wanted to admit. Thank goodness my husband truly is my partner, and thank goodness for family and friends who pitched in to help us find our footing. My initial fantasy of being able to wear the little one while I kept plugging away at my creative work had to be put on hold until my torn abs healed enough to allow me to pick her up without facing back spasms, but a brace plus a feverish commitment to the physical therapy moves suggested by my midwife meant that, by the time my little one was six weeks, I could actually wear her in a carrier, convincing her to nap hands-free while I got a few hours of work. The crying stopped around the same time I was able to return to my craft.
(I wasn’t going to write about any of this: I was planning on trying to somehow avoid mentioning the fact that I’ve now got a little one, in an effort to keep my personal life separate from my writing life…but I’m a writer. It’s all my life, period. Plus, I realized she’d be tagging along for book events soon, and when I sat down to write, I realized there were things from my experience that you might need to hear for yourself. Or not. Either way, I couldn’t not share a little bit about the major transformations going on in my life.)
Yes, things are different. My carefully scheduled writing days and epic to-do lists have become a bit more flexible (although the to-do lists are another thing that saved my sanity in the early weeks post-partum). After seven years of plying my craft at a dusty desktop computer, I’m now working away on a new laptop that I’m still getting used to. My solitary writing sessions, previously shared only with the cat, now happen with my daughter strapped to my chest, snoozing against me as I work. I sometimes wonder if the sound of fingers on a keyboard will be soothing to her later in life, but it’s far too early to tell.
You know what’s not different? I’m still writing. On a good day with a long nap, I can produce 2 or 3 thousand words; pre-baby, my best days could include 5K or more, but that’s okay: I’M STILL WRITING. I was secretly terrified that the changes of motherhood would so profoundly alter me that I wouldn’t want to write anymore once she was born (one of the reasons I worked like a fiend during my pregnancy to clear my plate, JUST IN CASE). But so far, motherhood hasn’t rewired me in the ways I’d worried it would. I’m sure there’s more change coming (heaven help me when she stops napping and starts crawling), but now that I’m a few months postpartum, I’m able to see that, at the core, I’m still exactly who I was before. A little more distracted, yes, and working to be totally focused on my little one during her periods of wakefulness, but the loss of self that I was convinced would accompany motherhood didn’t happen.
I’m still me. And I’m still writing. And my hat goes off to writing moms and dads everywhere.