"Relax as if your life depends on it." For increasingly pregnant me, this mantra was singularly anti-relaxing, tending to increase my trepidation and anxiety regarding the impending delivery. When labor did arrive, I "relaxed" as best I could, and relaxation did help. But in the end, there was no relaxation--there was only work, and the overwhelming force of my body (full Birth Story coming soon).
And, in a few short hours, the labor and delivery were over--finished. Suddenly, there was a tiny, red, crying person on my chest--a person who had also gone through labor and delivery, without the benefit of Dr. Bradley's sage advice.
After going through labor, delivery, and the first week (+) of parenthood, I have decided that the Bradley method's advice: "relax as if your life depended on it"--is, after all, VERY good advice...for parents of new infants.
I spent so many hours of my pregnancy reading and re-reading birthing-method books, preparing for the intense experience of birthing, that I almost forgot about preparing for the even more intense experience of caring for a newborn. The stress of labor was nothing compared to the stress of the first week of Harriet's life. Lack of sleep, physical exhaustion, and emotional upheaval combined with a tiny, always-hungry person whose every move or sound sets both mother and father into immediate action. Very tough.
The second week has been, thus far, much easier. The baby, I have discovered, will not die if she cries. She will not die if I go take a shower. She will not die if someone else holds her for half an hour. Breastfeeding has become easier. I am (slowly) catching up on sleep and my body feels more like its regular self every day.
And she is a precious thing. She makes my heart hurt. So I forgive her for the faces she makes when she is Mad, Sad, Bad. And when she makes those faces I remind myself:
Relax as if your life depends on it!