This story is for women like me, who once lost themselves in postpartum blues.
Lost in feelings of having to climb a mountain so high it often felt impossible and not even worth it. Some of those days and weeks and months were downright scary.
Beyond the allegory of my words and the portrayal of one woman’s experience, is the hope that every new mother is cherished, supported and seen for the glorious goddess that she most certainly is. That our bodies are sacred and that we are beautiful especially after childbirth. No matter how betrayed we feel by our emotions and our looks.
I would see a runner sometimes when I did yoga in the park.
The baby asleep in the buggy, my mat stretched out under my favorite oak, hidden in a grove of trees. She would appear from a running path where she stopped to do push ups and I don’t know what else because I was busy pretending that I wasn’t watching her at all.
She was young. 24 years old maybe and I am past the age where she would look at me. I was 35 and had just had my first born.
I had such confidence before I had my little one. I had looked forward to this all the while I was setting myself up as indispensable at work. I had my priorities figured out. Establish my career, find a man who complimented my life goals, create a home—you know, be ready when my baby came.
Something happened after I gave birth. Well, actually, before.
My husband, who adored me, suddenly withdrew into a shell that I could penetrate with neither looks nor words. He now lived in a different world than me—his world is free and mine is bogged down with a million minute details of making sure our little one has access to every ounce of my being.
“You look so tired” my husband would say when I initiated sex—that’s not sexy. Or, “You lactate when you get aroused.” Not sexy at all. “It’s taking you a while to get your body back.” Try harder.
“Who are you?” I would ask him silently.
I remembered when he couldn’t take his hands off me, when all he could talk about was the life we would build together.
One day, the runner stopped to talk to me as I lay in Savasana, staring up at the sky through the canopy of leaves. My tears were on the inside, I was drowning in a buried river of solitary sadness.
“Hi!” I jumped as she spoke and apologized for frightening me.
“Hello.” I replied suspiciously. I sat up—conscious of what my hair looked like suddenly and whether my yoga clothes hid my slowly receding belly.
“You do yoga here often.” She stated. I nodded, thinking, “You interrupt my yoga here often, especially today with your tiny shorts and the almost not there yoga tank on. ”
She kept talking, since I kept my words to myself.
“It’s good, yoga after a baby. Best way to get back in shape, which obviously you’ve accomplished.”
“What?” I thought. “Are you blind?”
She smiled, “I don’t always talk this much. I’m sorry; I’m interrupting your Savasana.” And then she left with a wave of her hand.
I hadn’t uttered a word and she probably thought I had baby brain. I did. (My husband laughed at it.) I was surprised that she knew the word Savasana. And that she had stopped to talk to me, because I thought myself un-noticeable.
The next time I saw her, she stopped to explain herself—she’s a trainer and was impressed with my effort to stay centered after childbirth. She hadn’t meant to be creepy.
This time I found my manners and my words and said that I wasn’t sure I was accomplishing anything except coming home with grass in my hair.
She laughed heartily—her abs looked amazing when she laughed and her arms did too when she lifted my baby over her head to touch the leaves on the tree. She suggested a few exercises that I could do with the baby and took me through the paces—I wondered if I was insane.
I came home happier than I had been in weeks and stood naked looking in the mirror to see if I had, indeed, made any progress getting into better shape. It seemed I had, but then my husband came in and said that my a** wasn’t what it used to be but that he’d be willing to take a run at me anyway. He patted me with a condescending hand and told me he loved me and left me in tears.
He thought they were happy tears, because he didn’t know me anymore at all.
I signed up for personal training. She told me it wasn’t going to take much. We worked out in the sun with the baby in tow. I was shy, but put on a brave face. She was beautiful and I though that I was the yoga mummy she loved to take pity on. Instead, she told me that I have good muscle tone from before and that yoga has been good to me—I pretended that I wasn’t f*cking horny the whole time we were together.
Sometimes I caught her looking at me in that intense way but then she would lower her eyelids to hide what she’s thinking.
And then one day, she asked me to find a sitter and join her at her home-gym. She said we were going to lift weights and do some hot yoga. “Okay.” I said even though I was scared to be alone with her in a private place. She had never said anything to insinuate that she had any interest in me besides our training, our deep conversations, the sharing of our most inspiring books, our love of mango smoothies, and yet, I was afraid.
She’d become an important part of my week.
I was still blue from those unrelenting hormones that shift and slide this way and that made me teary, and sometimes afraid to be near my child. But when I saw her I forgot that motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and that I worry about being a bad mother at the end of each and every day.
She always told me to just breathe and that obviously I am an amazing mother because the baby is healthy and happy and squirms with delight when she is in my arms. She was good for my self-esteem and right now I could not remember how to lift myself up without her at my side.
I was in trouble and I knew it. I was falling for her. She was 24. I was married. I am a loyal person and had never understood why people cheat.
I went to her house and she make me tea. She gave me a little shove and smile and asked if I was nervous?
What?! How could she know that I was nervous? I finally saw myself in the mirror as the sexy, loving woman that she told me I was.
That’s been her miracle in my life, helping me remember who I am.
But she was not herself that day either. She was aggressive in her training. The hot yoga left us both sweaty and exhausted and she suggested a longer Savasana and some meditation to finish. The air was electric between us and I doubted that I could meditate on anything but the way her hands were pulling my hair as she guided me through a relaxation technique.
Gently, she pulled on my scalp making me moan my pleasure and in that instant, her lips touched mine and my hands reached to touch her—anywhere, I needed to touch her.
She ripped me out of my tank top, and swore to herself with lust when she saw my swollen breasts, and my traitorous nipples that made it clear that I was still nursing my child. I began to cry, embarrassed, and put my hands over them to wipe them dry.
But she warned me that if I did anything to hide myself from her that she would put me over her knee and spank me. She wanted me as I was, she wanted me real. Her hands found my breasts and I got lost in her ardor. She said once that it made her angry when women didn’t honor the stages in their lives. I could barely think straight with my nipples in her mouth.
I heard myself saying, “Yes, I want you to spank me; I want you to be angry, to touch me like you mean it.”
And she confirmed that I knew what I was asking for, and then she tied my hands and placed me over her knees. She make me beg for every little thing I needed from her and gave it without any remorse for the fact that I was married.
And when we were done, I sat hazy eyed in her arms while she feed me a bowl of yogurt and honey. She said that I was brave. I could not see why, I had just cheated on my man. I had taken what I’d needed without thinking of him once.
And she said that it takes courage to find what one needs to stay alive. That life is not black and white and I had, over the last few months, worked on saving myself from the wretchedness that is postpartum depression.
“So, you have not saved me?” I asked, hoping that she would say she had, and that we could do this every day for the rest of our lives.
“I have not, angel, I have merely joined you on your journey towards your center. You have done it all. You have been the difference in your life.” She replied, looking far too wise for her years; and for the first time since we’d met, introspectively sad.
But I know that I found my courage when she recognized my unstoppable soul beneath my baby blues.
I still see her sometimes when I do yoga in the park.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock