Weeks before giving birth I was wandering the aisles of the Gilman Street Whole Foods, trying to calm my jangling nerves as I questioned my ability to complete the task before me. In the homeopathy section my hand-wringing was interrupted by a tousled father of three who offered booming congratulations to my pregnant belly and an energetic recounting of his children's birth stories to me.
My wife and I started out with rigid birth plans! He said. And then none of the births went as we envisioned! We had elaborate ideas of what would happen! With our first, we began contracting at home and were convinced the baby would arrive soon! We ended up baking three pies in the kitchen as we waited for the labor to speed up! Three pies!
Respect the uniqueness of your body and your family! He said. All the births will be different and all the children will be different, but all of it will be wonderful! You were made to do this! You! Will! Do! Great! He gave me a thump on the back. We parted ways.
Today, with the baby safely born and strapped to my chest, I am walking through Temescal in a blue funk, thinking about how I will have to leave her at home next week and resume work. I didn't expect to be so emotional when the time came to go back to the office, but now, casual questions about the end of my maternity leave make my throat tighten and eyes sting.
We stop at Pizzaiolo, where I order a cup of coffee and share my table with a woman who says hello to Joanie and comments that she has a nine month old at home. I notice the woman is working remotely, so I ask her some questions about motherhood, family, and career. I leave with her card and the sensation that the Lord is doing what he did before, speaking through those around me to help me navigate unfamiliar terrain, making my experience of the unknown more bearable.
When we were preparing for Joanie I frequently told the Lord that parenting looked hard; he responded that done independently, it was actually impossible, but done alongside others, it could be done well. Four months into being a new mother I already find this to be true.
With pregnancy and giving birth I've felt displaced from my body, my home, my routines. I live with a level of disorientation that I haven't experienced since middle school. The more I come to terms with what is being asked of me and David as parents the more I am hungry to be parented by friends and strangers who have done this before; aul asks the Corinthians, what do we have that we did not receive?