In Shakespeare’s Henry V, the sovereign Lord pumps up his troops by uttering the famous monologue that begins “Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more…” the monologue is lengthy and has all sorts of metaphors for girding your loins for the upcoming war. I’ve thought a lot about this speech this week as I’ve been thrust back into the eye of the storm. The “storm” in question is 7 lbs of adorable baby henceforth known as Ford Baker Hollis, and the battle, is the special kind of hell you find yourself in on two hours of sleep with a sore body and broken lady parts.
Ford joined us last Friday, and after six days of continuous contractions I was exhausted and ready to remove him myself using kitchen tools. After so many days of praying for labor, I still found myself a little overwhelmed when it finally started to happen, especially since it was so much faster than with the other boys. In quick summation, and so as not to startle our male readership (all four of you) the epidural wore off, the baby came faster than expected with no doctor in sight, I started internally freaking out while nurses chanted “don’t push, wait for the doctor, don’t push!” It was scary, and it hurt, and I can’t believe that my third labor was more emotionally scarring than my first. But when all was said and done, there he was… the perfect combination of his daddy’s good looks and his mother’s joie de vivre. The nine months of bitter pregnant lady the six days of labor, the mental and physical exhaustion were all worth it, because a new little boy is here and he’s healthy and happy and we all made it through alive.
The toughest part I suppose, is the aftermath. You really do forget how hard it is to function on so little sleep. You really do forget how much your body aches or how breast feeding hurts so badly at first you want to slam your head into the wall just to have a distraction from the pain. I thought I’d be better able to deal with all the tough stuff because I’d done all this before, but it turns out, it’s hard every time, whether it’s your first or your twenty first (just ask Mrs Dugger).
Even though I seem to have blocked out a lot, I did learn a few things the first time around. For instance, the first picture in this blog post is one Dave snapped while I was asleep. Five years ago I’d never have allowed him to share that on his Facebook page (which he promptly did of course). My face is bloated, my hair is unwashed, my chins (all six of them) are large. But experience has taught me that while new motherhood might not be pretty, it is beautiful and should be recognized for what it is. I remember too that as hard as this time is, it’s also fleeting. I didn’t know that with my first, but I’m certainly aware that it does get better, little by little. One hour of sleep turns into two, and then four. Your body heals, you’re able to wear pants that button again and life resumes it’s normal, if slightly altered pace. I try and remind myself to enjoy the good parts of this time; the snugly baby, the sweet “firsts”, watching the older boys holding their little brother so proudly and use those as my buoy. I’ll hold out for the better days that are right around the corner, until then, if anyone needs us, Ford and I will be here on the sofa watching the Olympics.