“Sometimes you have to let the house burn to save a life.” A friend shared this with me after I gave birth to my 5th child. She was referring to the power of a settled and calm mind accompanied with deep breathing, similarly to that of what first responders are taught.
Amongst total chaos, an emergency, a life or death situation, first responders are taught to remain calm, focused, and on saving a life. She was reminding me that even heroes cannot do it all: “Sometimes you have to let the house burn to save a life.”
I had proudly shared not even two days after I was out of the hospital following giving birth that I was at my older kiddos’ school carnival, the next day had the entire crew at the pool and then to the movie theatre and then to church the following morning – of course, all with my brand new son in tow.
It was my 5th baby which meant I had four other tiny humans still needing me, absolutely relying on me, and no, life didn’t stop for them. It was as if I had set my mind that when I left that hospital, I would be in super hero form 24/7, and it didn’t matter what my body physically (or emotionally) just endured 48 hours prior.
It was no “excuse” that I needed to nurse a newborn every two hours or the fact that I was up hourly during the night to accommodate the cluster feedings and soothing of this precious, sweet baby. Life simply went on, and somehow, some way, I needed to remain in the front of this race to simply keep up.
And then it was like a slap in the face with how foolish I was, it was as if my body showed me signs to stop on the brink of day seven. I felt like not only had I over done it, but I seemed to have back peddled to a place that maybe I wasn’t even at when leaving the hospital five days prior.
I found myself on the porch that morning, sitting in the warmth with a baby asleep on my chest, just listening to the birds chirp, totally unmoving, with no intention to move. I didn’t get my preschooler to class on time so she missed that day. She likewise had gymnastics that afternoon that I already realized I wouldn’t be able to make due to how I was feeling. I also had to reschedule the baby’s first appointment with the pediatrician as I slept through the alarm for my first consistent two hour stretch of sleep over the last week.
I wanted to cry from feeling like I had massively failed that day, and it wasn’t even yet lunch time. My hormones were still a bit everywhere and trying to level out. I just felt like, “I couldn’t do anything.” And yet the irony I came to find that my mind and body were telling me, “I couldn’t do anything,” may have been my answer.
Besides snuggling that sweet baby in that moment was all I needed and should have been doing. Bonding with my new baby and bonding with my older children as they bonded with ‘their new baby’, that needed to be my only focus and my only goal to accomplish.
My friend went on to share with me, “When there is so much going on, you have to prioritize and that means some things are going to burn – and that’s perfectly ok. In fact, it’s so freeing! Perfection can be found in imperfection. In missed school, in a dirty house, in missed lessons…”
She went on to say that “standing in the midst of chaos and just letting it be, just being witness to it all unfolding and allowing yourself to detach from the responsibility to fix it, well, it is quite fascinating and so liberating!”
I realized once again that the house, the cleaning, the laundry, the work will all still be awaiting me. Being the “over achieving mom” who had her kids doing this and that and here and there, it wasn’t necessary; at least not right now.
My baby boy’s tiny breaths and sweet hands falling so softly upon me, before I knew it there would come a time where he wouldn’t fit upon my chest any longer. It turns out that my plans for this time weren’t going to accomplish what I have right here in my arms. I found my calm and the peace and total satisfaction right here, right now, because of one simple choice – instead I held him.
I told myself over and over, “You must sleep. You must rest. You must breathe. You are in your fourth trimester, and this is your time to heal and bond.”
So yes, Sweet Mama, as you embark on your Fourth Trimester: sleep, rest, breathe – simply “be. It very well may be the most critical trimester of them all. We can’t glorify the art of being busy during this time any longer.
It is ok to not be busy. Say that again: it is okay not to busy.
Be sure to give this precious time both the attention and nurturing it not only needs but requires.