Monday, 16 April 2012

Mama Arms

Before we get started, have you checked out my Postcards from Parenthood Blog Carnival? No? Then you probably should. 

I missed my baby last week. If my wife is reading this she is probably thinking YOU missed your baby? YOU? You had him with you ALL WEEK. I missed my baby. 

And she's right. She has much more cause for complaint as she stayed in Ottawa last week while Mac and I drove to Sudbury. My brother is getting married this summer and with a very short engagement it is an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation. And because I enjoy controlling things am good at organizing, I've taken on the role of pseudo wedding planner. Which is super fun. And very busy.


I have also taken on the role of photographer. Aren't they a beautiful couple?
Mac spent an abundance of time in his car seat as we whisked around the city from bridal shops to rental stores to craft shops. He was held by mother, my future sister-in-law, my niece and the bridal shop sales lady. Occasionally he was handed to me if it seemed that he needed to nurse. And if that was in the middle of a mall, well, then we nursed as we shopped because there was no time to slow down!

Sudbury is breastfeeding friendly city. Check out this sign from Sudbury and District Health Unit
And in the evenings he was passed off to my father, grandmother, aunt, and anyone else in the vicinity as we busily planned table settings, decorations, and location layouts. Mac and I are used to our slow paced one-on-one days where we make a disaster eating strawberries and then take a leisurely bath. We are not used to the busy. To the rush rush rush. And I am not used to having him out of my arms for such long periods of time.


I was reminded of a time a few years back when my friend Dharma and I were wedding dress shopping with her baby daughter in tow. Precious Cailey napped in her carseat as her mom tried on dress after dress. And as we were driving home at the end of the day my friend turned to me and said "I miss her so much. I can't wait to get home." And I thought how do you miss her? She's RIGHT THERE. But I had yet to have "Mama arms" and I didn't know about the ache. I didn't know that once you have a baby there is only so long you can be away from him/her before your arms start ache with longing. A few wise women have told me that as your baby ages the time can lengthen but it is always finite.

I was never more happy to co-sleep because it meant that at the end of each long day he was all mine. All mine to cuddle and kiss. If I couldn't hold him during the day I was at least able to breath in his scent while I slept. My poor wife on the other hand was home alone. And I imagined that her Mommy arms must be aching horribly. Although when I called home and asked her if her arms hurt she replied: "why would my arms hurt? They hurt when he's here. He's heavy. Only my heart hurts."

I was thinking about this as I lay in bed, with my baby tucked soundly under my arm, and I couldn't help but think of all the Mamas out there who have lost their babies. How must their arms ache knowing that they will never again hold those warm bodies. I thought about the bloggers I follow who speak with such heart about the losses they have endured. I hesitate to call them brave or strong because brave seems to imply that one has a choice in the matter. It is brave to rush into a burning building to save a life - losing a child is a tragedy. But it is brave to keep on breathing when your oxygen has been taken away like Courtney, Heather and Angela do.

And I thought of my wife's friend who lost her twin boys after far too short of a stay on Earth. It has taken me until now to even begin to grasp the magnitude of loss she has felt. And I thought of my grandmother who has lost two of her (grown) babies and wondered how much her Mama arms must ache too. Because whether a Mama has her babies for 50 hours or 50 years it will never be long enough.

Then Mac stirred, his head nuzzled into my neck and the ache in my arms vanished as I was left with an ache in my heart for all of those with aching Mama (and Papa) arms. You are in my thoughts today.


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and
 then, she {snapped}

61 comments:

  1. As I read your post I also ache for the mommy's who never got a chance to hold their baby in their mama arms.
    Another great post Kris!!!!

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    1. So true Shannon. My heart is with them.

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  2. Kris, Jessy, my son just turned 20 in February. He started a new job at a mine out out of town. I have said over and over again since he left how much i miss his daily hug. You are right, there is a pain, not only in the heart of missing our children, it is in our arms too! I never really noticed until you mentioned it.
    Kerry

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    1. Great news for Jessy Kerry. But I'm sorry you are missing him so much :(

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  3. Found you through Top Mommy Blogs! You take great pictures! I wish I was that good at photography!! Mac is super cute too!!

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  4. Mujer!! Next time hanky alert ok??

    BB2U

    Y si, even though you had to endure their ::shudder:: puberty, mamas still need to hear their grown up babies.

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  5. Cute photos. I LOVE the giant balloon! So whimsical. You had a PACKED weekend. Good for you! And so good of Mac to be so well-behaved! And yay for breastfeeding sign! Why can't Americans be so supportive??? I can't imagine not being able to hold by baby ever again. Heart breaking!

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    1. Thanks Lisa!

      What is the breastfeeding culture like where you are?

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    2. In the US, we all talk about how great breastfeeding is. Peds say it. OBs say it. Books say it. But how many women do you actually see breastfeeding in public? Maybe I'm not out when other mommies are out, because I'm at work, but I have seen maybe 1 or 2 do it. In 20 months, I've seen 1 or 2?! So, either women BM at home (like me), and then come out with pumped milk. OR don't come out until BM is over. The experts say it's because breasts have become over sexualized in our culture so that BM in public, to some (most), is almost public nudity.

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    3. Ugh. So sad. Mac freaks out when I try to use a cover so I just started feeding him wherever we were and have yet to have a single negative comment (or even look that I've noticed). He has a great latch so I can feed him while walking and have done so in the grocery store, the mall, while walking at the dog park... you name it. The only time I have ever had anyone say anything to me was one time when all my nursing bras were wet so I just brought a bottle of pumped milk with me to Starbucks. An older lady tried to "scold" me about how my generation doesn't breastfeed. I was so dumbfounded. I didn't want to explain to her that it was breast milk in my bottle because that would perpetuate her belief that it was OK to comment on my feeding of my child. So I just told her that he was happy and healthy and what was in his bottle was absolutely none of her concern.

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    4. We also get a year of mat leave here so it's probably easier for us to BF for longer versus having to go back to work and pump. So maybe it's more common to see BFing moms here?

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    5. Good for you for not allowing the older lady to make judgments on your feeding -- BF (as you say, guess BM sounds like the dirty diaper thing :P) or formula, it's all about feeding the baby. J never had a good latch, or we didn't try long enough, so I'd never be able to get him to feed without causing a crying seen and my breast hanging out ;). A year of mat leave? I don't even get 6 wks, and I work for the govt! I have to take sick leave and annual leave. Pathetic, right? At least the hubs had pat leave at his old company (2 wks). That plus his 4 wks annual leave meant he was at home with us for 1 month. Canada have paternity or partner leave?

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    6. We have a year of leave that can be split between the parents. But 15 weeks of that year is only for the birth mother.

      These days Mac is really interested int he world so occasionally my boob is hanging out. I try to just pull the shirt down quickly. But I've become less and less embarrassed by it. Besides, it's legal to be topless in Ontario anyway. ;)

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    7. You don't want to be arrested ;)! Yay for Canada!

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  6. This was a beautiful post..
    I read The Spohrs are multiplying too.. and I remember her saying shortly after her baby died that she felt a twitch in her arms, it was her muscle's atrophying. Since she wasn't picking up her baby any longer. I guess arm ache can be literal too..

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  7. Oh I feel like waking up my baby and getting a hug. Or maybe not. Beautiful post. Good luck with planning the wedding!

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  8. My son flopped around like a fish out of water when he slept! And we were releaved to have him sleep in his own area at six months.
    But I remember the first day I put him there, he looked so tiny on such a big white space! I was tempted to grab him up again.

    But, I didn't. (Too much flipping and flopping when he sleeps--he has Down syndrome and it is not uncommon.) He is seven now! He still sleeps in his own space and would not have it any other way! He's independent like that! And less flipping and flopping!

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    1. Mac's not a flopper but there was a period of time where he made pig noises all night. Thankfully that's over with now! I'm glad you found what works for your family!

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  9. Found you through YEAH WRITE and I love this post. I've never really thought about putting words to that feeling when I am missing my baby when she's right here, but I've felt that, on multiple occasions. I get it.

    I do love that BFing bench!

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    1. I guess you have to experience it to get it!

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  10. Awww, "mama arms"! What a bittersweet concept..

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  11. Beautifully written, Kristin. I feel it.

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  12. So sweet. I've never had a baby, but yearn for one, so I know exactly what you mean by "mama arms." Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hope that there is a baby in those arms soon Abby.

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  13. Oh yes, I get that mama arm ache. I love the part where you say how no matter how long you hold them it is never enough. So true. Loved your post.

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  14. That child is gorgeous! And I loved reading a post from a mother who is reveling in the joy -- too many complaints out there for my taste. I felt as you do when mine were babies. Now they're ten and almost thirteen and I miss them terribly when they're at school, but it's also great to see them becoming strong and independent. Wonderful post!

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    1. There is more joy in this whole parenthood thing than I could have ever imagined. I'm glad you are enjoying your experience too!

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  15. I totally understand what you mean. We don't co-sleep, so at night, when everything is quiet, my arms really ache to hold him... even when it was one of those crazy days where all I kept thinking was : "OMG, is it bedtime yet?". Very sweet post! :)

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  16. I can definitely understand missing your son who's not so far away and having aching arms. I don't have any children...but the way you explained it made it so easy to understand! Sometimes I miss my loved ones when they're right next to me. It's almost like overwhelming love. I imagine it only gets more overwhelming when you're a mom!

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  17. Once again your post has brought me to tears Kris. Beautifully written.

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  18. Oh, I so get this! My brother got married when my little guy was only a year old and it was the first time I had to be away from him so much. And to do stuff like set up wedding tables! Doesn't everyone know I needed baby cuddles? It is such a hard balance; this grown up world and baby world.

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  19. "mama arms", I love that. I imagine that my arms will ache even when he's a grown man.

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  20. My Grandmother buried a baby and a grown baby. I always find myself staring at her wondering where she hides that pain. I've never looked at her arms though.

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  21. Such a bittersweet and truly lovely post. I love the thought of Mama Arms and the aching that you feel when your baby can't be in them. It made me think of my own Mama and how her arms might still ache from time to time even though my sister and I are grown.

    I especially love what your wife said about her heart aching. So, so sweet.

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  22. There is nothing like it when they are bitty and all yours to eat up with a spoon. All too soon they grow and talk back and call you the meanest mommy in the world. Enjoy those precious moments. It does getter better. Certainly different and not easier.

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    1. I think about that often. How is it possible that in just a few short years this littler person who thinks I am the greatest thing on earth with find me mean and stupid? It's an unfair cycle.

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  23. Beautiful post. The cosleeping, the cuddling at the end of the day, priceless. My heart hurts for those who can't have that.

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  24. i can't imagine losing my child. i get mama arms just watching him play by himself for a few minutes. this is a lovely post and i can so feel all those same things - wanting to hold him every second!

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  25. I remember this feeling and while it changes as they grow older (you just get kind of antsy when they aren't there) it never really goes away. Nice piece, Erin

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  26. Becoming a parent has made me understand the sudden, sometimes frightening, grabby hugs my parents would give us. Sometimes the pull is stronger than the need to give your children space. Is that how Bear Hugs started? :)

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  27. Sounds like a fun trip, but I know what you mean about missing your boy during the day. I do love co sleeping because I can snuggle and soak in my time with him. I like the breastfeeding ad. It was suggested to me just this week that I use the bathroom, ugh!

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  28. I love that breastfeeding poster!!!

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  29. Great post! I lost a full-term baby once and it was heartbreaking up until now! But I am joyous that God blessed me another girl after trying so many times again after loosing my first still-born.

    My baby girl is 4 years old now and I make each and every moment spent with her the most precious ones, coz they grow up so fast and you wouldn't be able to do what you can do when they were little.

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