Friday, May 15, 2015

Inside my head

It's funny sometimes how things will hit you out of the blue.  Weird things that you don't think about until something strange triggers your trip down the rabbit hole of your own thoughts and then things crash on you like a ton of bricks.  The other night I found myself crying in the shower.  It was weird, and I hadn't been having a particularly rough day or week, but I was standing there thinking about struggles and regrets and I just sort of fell apart.

The truth is, my daughter's birth still haunts me.  The reasons for that shift.  Sometimes the sheer stress and trauma of it comes back to me suddenly and almost knocks the wind out of me when I think about it.  Sometimes, it's something else.  Lately, I've seen posts on Facebook or Twitter from other people who have had children and there are hashtags that read things like #likeaboss or #likeapro about how easy and amazing it was to have their kid.  Then the photos follow.  Photos of smiling moms, looking fabulous, holding their babies like they've just won the lottery.  It all seems so....right.  I guess it seems like it's supposed to be, and sometimes that stings.  When I tell people about my daughter being born, I make jokes.  I laugh things off as being casual.  I make comments like "Yeah, they decided to cut her out so she wasn't dead, which seemed like a pretty good idea" and then I laugh a little and people all think I've handled it so well.  But when I'm alone, when it's dark and quiet and all I have are the thoughts inside my head, I'm filled with regrets.  On so many levels, I wish I had been the mom with the smiling photo, looking really happy, showing off a baby for the camera.  I wish that my first moments with my daughter had also been her first moments.  I wish I hadn't been strapped to a table, unable to really see her or hold her or touch her.  I wish I hadn't had to wait almost an hour before I could really get a look at her face.  I had wanted to memorize every tiny piece of that face when I saw it, and there was a moment in the middle of the night when the nurse took her away to the nursery where I panicked that I might not realize it if they brought back the wrong baby because so much of my day had been a blur and I hadn't really had the energy to stare lovingly into that face and memorize those tiny features.  I didn't feel like I had done anything #likeaboss.  I felt mostly like I had failed.

I had such a hard time after the c-section.  I was functioning on 30+ hours of labor, and over 46 hours that I spent awake, more or less.  I was able to sort of nap here and there for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, but it was never peaceful or even that restful.  I had a blood pressure cuff that inflated every few minutes, I had monitors strapped to me, I had machines beeping, I had nurses coming in and checking on me.  I had people in the goddamn room talking and being a nuisance.  I was, in short, a wreck.  Then they did a c-section and I lost a crap ton of blood.  By the time I got to hold my daughter, I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open and coherently answering the nurse's questions.  I remember holding her, but I can't remember those first moments of seeing her face.  I can't remember how I felt about seeing her.  I remember being a little afraid that I would drop her because I felt so out of it, but I don't remember HER.  I regret that.  I regret that I couldn't be fully present to welcome my daughter into the world.  When someone came to visit and wanted to take her, I handed her over immediately because I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't look after her and care for her.  I didn't feel like I could do anything.

There are no pictures of me holding my daughter and smiling like a happy mom.  The first words my mother said to me when she saw me after the surgery was "Wow, you look like shit".  After that I wasn't really up for being in photos.  I didn't want to be seen at all, honestly.  Then I couldn't stay awake.  All day, I couldn't stay awake.  My husband sat and snuggled her for hours, cuddling her and soaking up all of that new baby-ness she was giving us, and all the while I sat there struggling to keep my eyes open.  I felt guilty.  I felt like I should be fighting to hold her and snuggle her, but I was having a hard enough time managing myself.  I constantly worry that people who came to visit in those first few hours or few days thought that I just didn't care about her.  I worry that all of those people who said "You wouldn't make a very good mom" walked into that room and thought "See, I was right" because I couldn't bring myself to want to hold her all the time like my husband did.  I contrast that with my sister-in-law, who seemed to never put her son down after he was born and she had gone through a c-section as well, and I think "What was wrong with me?".  It's hard.  I feel like I missed out on so much, and I know I'll never get those first moments back.  I have all of the moments after, but those are gone forever and when I think about it, sometimes it makes me cry.  It makes me feel like an inadequate mom.  It makes me feel like somehow she'll know that those first few days, I was selfish and needed to take care of me and that I couldn't be in love with her the way other moms are.  It makes me afraid that what I lost in those early moments of her life will be the foundation of our relationship from here forward.  She will keep me at arms length because in those early hours, I kept her at arms length.  I worry that we didn't connect like we were supposed to, and that no matter what I do, I can never repair that.

Sometimes that all hits me out of left field, and I sob in the shower.

Sometimes I hate other women who get to do things #likeaboss.


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