This week marks Hawksley's one month. It's been a strange few weeks weighted between flying right by and dragging on to what feels like no end - mostly when we're up in the wee hours of the night. I can't really complain though considering the Hawk man eats and sleeps well, promptly fulfilling all his baby duties. Now, I wouldn't call myself a baby person, but I do appreciate the importance of documenting changes in a baby's early life and how this can be a sacred and beautiful thing - I just don't obsess over it. I really don't love all those expected photo shoots - so I don't indulge in them. Maybe it's my background in magazine as an art director, but I like minimal documentation - done well. So you'll never see us in line at Walmart with family matching denim shirts. Me and Hawk had a little photo shoot at home to mark my bébé's one month of life - just the two of us. This milestone had me reflecting on all the feelings motherhood has bestowed on me so far. But... the real celebration is that we've kept him alive this long... having a baby is seriously scary.
And because this is real life, here are some outtake photos of shots I didn't use... mostly because Hawksley sprinkled everywhere and we needed a "costume" change. GLAMOUR PEOPLE! During a documentary class once, my instructor told me filming animals and babies was one of the hardest things, particularly because you can't really direct them.
He wasn't kidding. Viva la pee. OK. Back to bidniss.
Before I get in to what I really want to talk about - I realize my baby always looks mad. Let me explain: He is beautiful like his dad, but he has definitely inherited my scowl and grumpy childhood tendencies. It's really a pensive facial expression he has... one that having a birthday during Mercury Retrograde has blessed him with. He's pretty much NEVER into anything we're doing and would much rather look at the ceiling fan than us. I have never felt more boring.
He's not a cryer though. He just thinks a lot. Derek and I can't wait for him to start giggling, smiling more, or generally showing any sort of emotion other than "my parents are lame and I am so not into them". He and Rogue have a special bond though. Rogue was very territorial of me while I was pregnant, but it turns out she was just protective of the fetus, not me. (THANKS ROGUE) They're real snuggle buddies now, and Rogue is always close by watching to make sure nothing goes wrong or her baby doesn't start crying. She supervises diaper changes, licks his face after eating and shares blankets with him. I've heard horror stories of animals totally losing their shit though, so I feel like I'm always watching them to make sure nothing goes awry... like when she hopped in his carseat the other day. Augh. My days have become this blur of diaper changes, bottle feedings, swaddle/snuggles, making sure Rogue doesn't suffocate the baby and laundry.
Needless to say the adjustment has been hard.
Physically, I recovered rather quickly from delivery. I would do labour/delivery 100 times over than go through my third trimester again. I'm itching to workout and work on my post-baby body. Since those final weeks were such hell, I figured karma gave me an easy baby and a decent postpartum for the potential chance that I'd actually do this whole conceiving thing again. But as someone who identifies as a worker, the transition into motherhood has been difficult. Motherhood doesn't resonate with me naturally. I was not the one who wanted to stay home with our son, but of course as a mother - a word I'm still trying to identify with - I felt obligated to. The familiar identifiers like writer, designer, cancer survivor, etc, all still ring before the mother bell sounds. It's not some new label that fits right away. I'd gladly return to my working life. That feels like what I'm supposed to do. But of course, it made sense for me to stay home and my complications made it almost necessary. But staying home, barely sleeping, doing constant laundry and bottle washing has proven to be quite the challenge. It requires no brainpower. It's mindless. It makes me feel like a lesser version of who I am. Watered down. None of my skills come into play. And I haven't really had training for this new job. I try to continue life as my "old self", writing in between baby naps and photographing what I can, but mentally I'm not there, and staying on top of cleaning seems like more of a necessity. My life feels like it runs on 2-3 hour intervals during the day when Hawksley naps. As a writer, it's like the most aggressive deadline I've ever had to work against.
I look at all the people I know who have had children, and wonder why no one really talks about this. Do they? But my previous workaholic-self never realized it? The bond to baby isn't instant for everyone like they tell you. I'm just getting to know Hawksley! He's his own little person. I've only known him for one month (I don't think the nine months in utero while his brain stem is developing count) so how can I have this unwavering understanding of him? I just can't. Sure, he's a "part of me" but he's still his own person. And why the hell didn't I babysit more as a kid? Oh yeah. Because I was busy being an overachiever with a waitressing job and hundreds of extra curriculars. And then there was that whole cancer thing...
Today's society has groomed a new breed of women raised on feminism, self-reliance and pride. We've been pruned to try/want to achieve as much as men and that we should work as hard as we can to smash glass ceilings. Sure, the whole point of feminism is to have the freedom to choose what path we want to traipse down, but a large part of it has failed to do that. It has made some of us feel like we NEED to accomplish a career equivalent to our male counterparts. How choosing to stay home is our right, but potentially our downfall with the amount of guilt that can come with it. Staying home brings guilt, and going back to work brings guilt. Is guilt the only option for modern women? By not contributing to society, by not using all that education and worldly knowledge we've accumulated, I think for some, some self-worth is compromised when women stay home to raise children in a feminist-raised environment. This isn't what we were trained to do... I've been trained to plan, strive, work hard and put in overtime.
I always think about the women whose souls sing during motherhood. Are their ambitions the same as mine? Do they have aggressive career and personal goals? Do they feel more whole after growing a human? Do their basic instincts feel more fulfilled? Is there something wrong with me for not feeling this way?
I look at my spouse, and to me he is a natural parent. We would really be screwed if he didn't have this naturalness to him. But he is a worker, too. He puts long hours into the company he is trying to grow and then comes home and doesn't squeak about giving the baby a bottle. I constantly squeak about the fact that I'm home all day, doing mindless duties and not working on my career. Guilt and worry creep in, goading me that I will lose what I have worked toward, and a nugget of jealousy sneaks in every time I hear Derek's truck leave for work in the early hours of the morning. I want to do that.
The funny thing is, I never deeply identified with feminism before having a child. I worked and went about my business gently bulldozing my male counterparts and never really giving feminism much thought because no man had ever hindered my career. Or even questioned my self-worth or personal value. But then I met Hawksley. Hawksley has made me actually think about feminism. He's made me question what it means to be a woman in 2015 and if I support it. It feels like every time I'm sitting beside Derek in the car, I'm dazed out the window trying to make a deal with the cosmos to have all my future lives spent as a man - or male. And I hate that. I want to contribute to the female army that deserves equality. I want to honour those who have sacrificed so much for what we have now. And there's this whole other thing... that MY BODY grew this beautiful tiny little person. How did it do that? How did it know how to do that? How have I created this whole other life?
We never really know where our journey is going to take us. I still feel surprised when I look down at Hawksley in my arms - surprised that I made him. I still sometimes hiccup over the fact that I'm not making the big career moves that I was set up to be on only a little over a year ago. Surprised that I've segued into full-time writing, albeit on a current maternity leave. Surprised that I change ten diapers a day. Surprised about book deals. Surprised about what my body can actually do on such little sleep. On autopilot.
Our trajectory is never predictable. We can't really plan, can we? So much just isn't in our control. Thank goodness I have an easy baby.