That Butterfly Motherhood Moment

Why the most difficult job in the world makes it all worth it

Photo by Melissa Chabot on Unsplash

Two days ago in the shower, it came to me. I’m not a caterpillar anymore. The moment that every mother knows so well and why the most difficult job in the world makes it all worth it. Together with the hot stream of water, a profound feeling of joy was pouring over me. String and Zoe were in the living room and I knew it deeply and profoundly. Those two people are my “everything.”

Paradoxically, this little child is a perfect blend of both of us but she’s also her own individual being. And this little being appeared out of nowhere. Like there was nothing and then mummy and daddy made love and a tiny cell appeared. Then it grew in mummy’s belly for nine months and voila!

Little Zoe was born.

Anyhow, back to the shower. At that moment I felt immense love that was greater than me and everything else and I knew. Nothing could ever substitute or even come close to this feeling. It had a rich texture and it had no beginning or end. It was smooth and delicious. It felt better than happiness.

It felt like nothing else matters. It’s almost the same as the magical feeling of oneness. Everything sits still. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. You’re just there and now, intensely in the present moment. You realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things in the world. How the Universe exists with or without you and nature stays on its course. Then you understand that your daily troubles are so minuscule and unimportant. What matters is here in front of you. What matters is that my family is now a little more complete and that she is in my life. And I feel joy. And I feel peace and surrender that’s independent of what someone else has done or said. It’s just there.

It took me three long months.

At first, I went through a shock. Physically, emotionally and mentally. I didn’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do with this strange looking human child. I thought we would give her back at some point. I didn’t understand what this child wants and why is she here. For about two weeks I was a robot on hormones just doing what needs to be done: waking up every 2–3 hours feeding the baby and changing diapers. I was dreading going to sleep because I knew she could wake up at any moment. Quite honestly, I was hating this new life.

Motherly instinct is a myth. What kicked in instead was responsibility. Day in and day out, hour by hour I was feeding, shooshing, rocking, watching, and changing diapers — 24/7. Oh, and reading tons of books and being parts of dozens of mums’ groups on facebook. I became an expert at sleep and feeding routines and schedules. I have obsessively tried to compensate for my lack of knowledge and experience about taking care of a newborn instead of just RELAXING and GIVING IN. I hoped it would all end very soon.

For three long months of this “fourth trimester”, she wasn’t showing any human signs or reactions. No interaction at all; just lying on her back, staring into the distance and moving her tiny little legs and arms uncontrollably. Sucking on my breasts and sleeping. That’s all.

And then little Zoe slowly emerged from her little dream world waking up to the fact that she’s here now.

It slowly started sinking in. Day by day we were getting to know each other. I was finding my own rhythm in this new life as a mother blending together my old and new self. Picking up the pieces I left in pre-motherhood life and trying to put them together with the new me — the mother me.

And slowly, day by day the puzzle of this new me was coming together. I fell into a routine, Zoe was becoming more like a human having a clearer look, making sounds and noises, reacting to us, smiling and even giggling.

So we both were kind of “waking up” to this new reality, to this new world: I to motherhood and she to being a new human in this world. And now her eyes are bright and clear, I see my reflection in them and this look of unconditional love is EVERYTHING. Nature is taking its course tying me to this child with an invisible bond that is stronger and tighter than any other.

I am on my way to becoming a butterfly. Here is an excerpt from Tracey Askew Anderson, my CalmBirth and CalmParent facilitator:

“The caterpillar goes about its business being a caterpillar, not thinking too much about the future or the past. Then one day it starts to respond to strange new inclinations it is having, the desire to eat vast amounts, to be quiet and still, to wrap itself up and protect itself, to opt out of life as she knew it — let’s call this pregnancy.

Now when the caterpillar goes fully and completely into the cocoon, it is making a transition to becoming a butterfly. It loses all of its previous form and structure. It becomes caterpillar soup, no longer the old self but yet to step fully into the new self. The changes are happening without any apparent effort by you, and yet these forces and new inclinations, feelings, thoughts, and aspirations start to emerge. Let’s call this nesting.

Then one day, the need to break free from the confines of the cocoon starts to emerge. There is struggle and hard work, and intensity, and the fear of the unknown of what lies on the other side starts to intensify. It is then in that struggle, the butterfly emerges strengthened by the struggle and hardship, preparing her to face the new world as a fully formed butterfly, and strong enough to fly. Let’s call this birth.

You see the new version of you — the butterfly is much greater than the old version — the caterpillar. Now suddenly you see life from a different perspective, a higher perspective, allowing you to take in the full view, the importance of life, the importance and fierce desire to protect this little, vulnerable baby. You have a new respect for other parents, the hardship seems greater, but the joy to seems greater. Confidence that you once had, escapes into the darkness and leaves you floundering, how does my baby work? Where are the instructions? Why didn’t anyone warn me about this? Life itself comes into a sharper focus, priorities change, your capacity to love expands, your resourcefulness comes out, your ability to survive and preserve yourself becomes more important.

You have gone from the woman to the mother, to man to the father. The mother and father are bigger versions of yourself — you have to get bigger — be bigger — your new role demands it from you. You can’t just dwell on your own self, you must broaden and expand to serving many selves, your baby, your partnership, and/or community.”

As a father and a mother, we are absolutely smitten by our daughter. Sometimes we can’t decide who’s the one to be picking her up. When she wakes up, both of us can’t wait to get in there, unswaddle her and watch her stretch. It’s the cutest thing in the world.

But with this immense feeling of love comes fear. I am afraid that something will happen to her and she will be gone. I feel it every day and think about it often. Sometimes I have nightmares about this and I can’t help it. So I want to protect her from everything. Nature taking its course again.

I’m looking forward to all the amazing things we shall do together: the countries we’ll visit and adventures we’ll explore. But I also am excited about the little things she’ll be discovering in the next year learning about how the world works, touching leaves and dirt, hearing the sound of birds and music, discovering colors, textures, smells and tastes.

I am looking forward to rediscovering the world through play. Looking at the world through the eyes of a child is a great gift. And, perhaps, this is our greatest lesson: a chance to learn about the world again, rethinking and reimagining what’s possible.

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