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Camel Shadows

How Having a Baby is Like Crossing the Sahara on Camelback

At forty years old, I find myself cooing at my son who is 30 days old at 5:45am, while pumping milk for the midday feeding, which will happen during a meeting on LED lightbulbs and energy efficiency. This is my life now.

When I met his father last January, 11 months prior to our son’s birth to the day, his father had asked me after a conversation regarding my 1996 eight day trek across the desert on my 21st birthday and my desire to repeat the adventure on my 40th, “Well, do you want a baby or do you want to cross the desert again?”

“A baby!”, I exclaimed while straddling him in my sun-soaked bedroom that fateful afternoon.

Words are spells, they weave our dreams and inklings, or fears and woes, into reality. The age old advice of watch what you wish for goes hand in hand with the sage advice, mind your words as you cannot take them back. Would I edit my words knowing what I know now about motherhood?

Maybe.

What used to be procreation to staff up the family farm, has now evolved (or de-evolved) into a conscious choice. Creating another human life is optional for our personal survival and lifetime satisfaction. Like many of my somewhat callous generation, I did not have the unwavering impulse to mate. The impulse flickered like my wifi contraption on the floor of my office. Off-on, maybe-maybe not. It became an inside dialogue that only seeped out to society when I was drunk or, in our son’s case, in love.

Crossing the Sahara Desert requires: a start and finish point, a map, equipment including camels, portable food and water, endurance for incredible pain and exhaustion, gumption, and a solid dose of crazy. Same goes for birthing a baby and raising a human being.

The start and finish point = 0-18years old. You hope.

Equipment = the list is so long and obnoxious I cannot type all of it without fear of an arthritic spasm.

Portable food and water = As an avid breastfeeder, I am it! Sounds simple and artisanal. Its not.

Endurance for incredible pain and exhaustion = We had a home birth. I pulled the baby out with midwives and a doula standing guard. But the sleepless sea of days that followed (still going) are far more painful than actually birthing a person.

Gumption and a solid dose of crazy = This is because I had a good life before parenthood. I was fit, healthy, well rested, working like maniac but inspired, traveling when I felt like it, dating whomever I wished to, and I made good money, which I got to spend on myself and things I desired to experience or gift to others. Basically, I was an adult brat. Self centered, myopic, and totally sustainable. That could have been my life in its entirety. I added good things to society through my work in sustainable business design and development, I was a loyal friend and daughter. I donated to charities and adopted a rescued animal.

When one really thinks about the science, chemistry, cost, time consumption, dedication, risk factors, heartache, and sheer responsibility of having a baby…its daunting. Just like the formidable desert. But if you take one day, one smile, one vista, one present moment at a time – wherever you are and whatever adventure you are on – it all seems do-able and often enjoyable.

My heart has expanded by both my time in the Sahara and the time with my son. I am in the very beginning stages of parenthood, and know very little about it or where it is headed, but I can say this…. I am better for having joined this human club. Compassion reigns and I am getting good at receiving and giving it. I am so grateful.