Stop Blaming the Hormones

It’s another early morning, like all the mornings before it. I used to choose to wake up in the space between night and day, when everything is new and quiet. When I steeped in the silence of sunlight trickling through my kitchen window.

Now I wake to whimpers that grow into groans that grow into cries over the monitor on my bedside table. I’m awake. I want to start the day. Come get me, Momma.

After a night of pitch dark feedings and groggy pilgrimages up and down the stairs, I pass the baton to my husband who goes to get her while I attempt to grasp the last remnants of sleep in the ten minutes it takes to change a diaper and get her dressed and ready.

A photo by David Mao.

I spend those early mornings sitting up in bed now, feeding my daughter her first of many meals for the day. I watch my husband get ready for work as I snuggle her closer.

It will come over me then, welling up out of nowhere.

It’ll come to me again later in the day, as I bend over her and she grasps my fingers. I’ll be in the middle of a refrain in You Are My Sunshine. She’ll smile and tears will gather at the corners of my eyes, threaten to spill over.

“My hormones are out of control,” I’ll lament to a friend over Facebook. “This post-partum stuff is for real.” She agrees, a new mom herself. The roller coaster of emotions is enough to make anyone feel a little crazy.

I’m not talking about the post-partum depression so many women struggle with. I had my touch of the “baby blues” at the beginning. This is different. And I don’t think it’s going anywhere. It’s as if once Eliana was born, instead of leaving an empty space behind, I was filled with twice the amount of emotion my body was capable of containing before. And my body is trying its best to catch up, to expand, to adapt to this new capacity.

Every emotion I have now feels razor sharp and intense in a way I’ve never experienced. Even happiness. Mostly happiness. When she’s content, staring at me, completely focused on my face, there can be such a fierce joy that springs up from me that it’s almost frightening.

And if happiness is this heightened, you should see fear. I have never feared for another’s life and well-being in the way I do for my daughter’s. It’s indescribable.

And I stop to think: why am I so quick to blame these overwhelming feelings on hormones? That it’s just my system righting itself like a boat after a storm? That it’s just chemicals and neurons in my brain?

And I realize it’s because stopping to let those feelings sink in for what they are is actually kind of scary.

God has given me one of the greatest gifts of my life and it’s scary.

I’m quick to fill my days with tasks and errands. The quiet moments I used to savor are paved over with scrubbing dishes, making meal plans, and an ever-open social media page. I find it hard to grapple with the hugeness of what I’ve been blessed with. That I’m not the one in control of it. I’m not, seemingly, even in control of my own emotions.

But now that I’ve stopped to really observe this change in myself, I find that now is the time to revel. To feel my emotions in all their fullness, even when it’s frightening. Even when it feels like I’ve been cut loose in a storm to be battered and bruised. I will exult in this new depth of passion for the gift that it is.

Instead of brushing these feelings aside with excuses of raging estrogen, I’m learning to face them headlong, letting them wash over me and praising God with each wave for this child who started it all.A photo by Sunset Girl.

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