Jeanne, on Transformation. Sling Diaries Vol VII.
The Sling Diaries, Volume VII. A photo-documentary chronicling the art of baby wearing in the lives of families around the world. Over the course of six months, Sling Diarists will create their own Sling Diary though a series of diary entries interpreting a unique theme given to them each month.
Meet all of our Sling Diarists here.
I've shed my skin, too. The skin I was wearing when she started growing in my belly, a tiny seedling thriving on warmth and a secret dance of time, happening under the surface without me knowing or guiding it. Where my belly meets my hips, skin stretching thin onto angles like a canvas on a frame, now there is more skin, padded and soft and rounded, covering the bones. My breasts are tattooed in purple designs that look like the veins on a leaf, and they rise and fall throughout the day like a loaf of sourdough. My beautiful, luxurious hair has been falling out by the handful. But this change isn't just skin deep.
One night she refuses to go to sleep. She wants to nurse, she wants me close, waking and wailing every time I try to leave. Outside the storm is howling, rattling the windows. I lie down next to her, but I want to run. I want to stop being touched, stop lying there in the dark with a baby that needs me so much. It feels like I'm being suffocated, a white-hot rage expanding between my ribs and burning through my body, like a tiger pacing in a cage too small. Sleep takes her, finally. C is waiting for me in the kitchen, arms open, a sorry look on his face. I don't even look at him, I am so mad.
I want to break down in tears. I want him to know. Know that I am still growing into the skin of her mother. That there are still emotions I don't know how to name, spaces I don't know how to fill, and it feels like I am walking around half-empty, but with the heaviest burden on my shoulders. That it feels like dying – the rags of my former self falling off my body like snake-skin. That the girl he loved has shattered like a glass thrown on the floor, and I am desperately trying to hold on to a few pieces. Tonight, motherhood looks like a wildfire, a tsunami, a goddamn curse and the most beautiful dawn.
Some days I feel like a warrior, and some days I am the newborn. Vulnerable, raw skin to be made into a costume, walking on a tightrope. Learning, surrendering. Grieving. For the one I was before her. For the one I thought I would become. I thought than on the day of her birth, the new me would be here with open arms, waiting to take her place. But on that day no one came, or the day after. I was left without – a body melting for another, a mind paused at the threshold. Now it's weeks and weeks after, and I still look at a stranger in the mirror, sometimes catching the lightest glimpse of her – of me – the mother. I keep trusting that she is coming, even if somedays she doesn't get any closer. She might be slow, but she is arriving softly into her space, coming to hold my head high and unroll my spine, like an instrument waiting to be played.
In the morning the rage and the doubt and the tiredness are gone, and the storm outside too. My daughter wakes up and look at me, with eyes that are my eyes with her dad's bright blue still shining on the edge of her iris. She knows me, even when I don't. And so for now I will hold her, and trust that I am growing and evolving alongside her – that I must give birth to myself, too.
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