The Her I Knew – The She I Know

Megan Oteri Baby

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I finally got Ben to sleep.  It is 11:03 P.M.  I have sung to him, danced with him, rocked him on my shoulder, walked around the house, swung in the porch swing, bathed him, and nursed him – all of these for hours.  Through all these verbs and nouns, there lives the pronoun of her.  Her seems to be a past tense presence of me.  I remember who her was.  I am now trying to get to know she. She is the mother now.  Not the her I used to know.  Not the her who could hop in her car and grab her camera, journal and pen, jot down notes and numbers of contacts to call to set up interviews for articles.  Not the her in the picture above, who had no idea she was pregnant with a tiny, microscopic organism called an embryo.  She, my body knew. She swelled with reason.  I just thought something was wrong with my right ankle.  It was swollen and I had no idea.  I could barely fit my cowboy boot over it and it didn't hurt at all.  I had a swollen right ankle throughout my whole pregnancy.

It didn't hurt; it just swelled.

Just swelled.  Like my heart swells now thinking of motherhood and all it encompasses.   Its raw engines.  Its softened curves.  Its unknown heights.  Its free falls of delight.  Its crashes of anger.  Its pride of depth.  Its muse of mourning.  It’s everything they said it would be.  It’s nothing I thought I could ever do.  It's everywhere when I am nowhere near it.  It is motherhood.

After a long night of getting the baby settled, I had so many emotions throughout my two-hour mama marathon.  26 miles of why me, oh ah, maybe this will calm him, maybe this will calm me. Songs I strike in, rocking chair bounces, sitting softly so silent as he nods off to sleep, whistles of whining as I cry louder than him, screaming – there are no words for the screams.  No screen to filter the air of anxiety they give.   Love – the verb, the noun, the action, the conjunction, the language.  Love encompassing me.

She is in control now or maybe she is not.  But her is gone. Her is the person I used to be.  It will take a while to get to know the she that has the patience to be so soft to her son.  For there is a her that longs for the freedom her had so long ago, with a camera in hand, a notebook on site and rodeos to wrangle stories from.  I now carry two hearts – my son and mine.  His is wrapped so tightly in mine I sometimes feel two beats.  Then one.  Swirling and twirling between the two is my husband’s.  He sleeps soundly now.  Up through the night last night, exhaustion has set in.  He is deep in needed sleep.

I wanted to stand at the foot of the bed and scream as loud as the baby, to wake him.  To get a sub.  Sub.  Buzz the buzzer – mom needs a sub.  Dad. Sub.  No sleep.  He needs sleep.  I rocked through the anxiety.  Through the anger.  Through the tired aches and pains of a long day.

Nobody told me how hard this would be.  Or did they?

I let him sleep.  He needs it more than me and he has been such a great sub when I have no more oxygen to breath in.  And tomorrow he will wake refreshed and give me a break because I am over tired from staying up to write.

So, I am one with my muse, this time is for me. To write.  The essay which has been dancing through the crying, through the fussy leg kicks, through the voice in my head that isn't the calmest, most Zen mom, but she is there, listening to her. For her is not gone, she is just more quiet, more distant.  But I can see her in the rearview mirror, chasing down a photo, telling stories as they are told to her, listening and watching the she mama has become.

About the Author

Megan Oteri

Megan Oteri is a mama, wife, cowgirl, and writer who collects vintage typewriters. She is a Wyoming wildflower transplanted in the South. She believes you should bloom where you are planted. She has a MA in Creative Writing from East Carolina University and a BA in Education from Providence College. Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. is her motto. You can find her writing at .

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