Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just One Little Question...

Most recently my daughter has become a pro at the "clear off the bookshelves and bring everything to Momma or Daddy" game and we play this nearly every evening.  Today was no different except the book that she brought me was something she had proudly held out for me to grab - it was a reflective book titled "Love Letters To My Baby" given to me by my dear friend Emily.  Throughout the book there are lots of questions and sentence starters that are to elicit thoughtful and insightful responses from the mother regarding her pregnancy and life shortly after the baby has been born.  Although I worked my way through most of the book as I flipped through the pages today, I noticed a question had been left blank.

In regards to the day that Natalie was born:

"Of all the emotions of the day, I mostly felt..."

There was no written response.

No glowing report of how I was instantly infatuated with the beauty of my child.  Nothing mentioning how I felt an immediate bond with my daughter.  There were no positive remarks about how my life was now complete after giving birth to such a perfect baby.

If I was to write down the first words that pop into my brain after reading that question....


How can I write that down for her to someday read?  I have a hard enough time adequately conveying the dangerous and terrifying amount of turmoil that I went through after her birth.  How do I explain such a mysterious and confusing disease like Postpartum Depression?  Do I tell her that I didn't initially have that rush of love and affection?  How I didn't even feel like she was really my daughter? 

I have been doing really well lately - keeping body and soul to mind while still being present and active in my husband and daughter's lives.  But now I sit here with tears in my eyes because of an innocent question in a lovely book.

Because someday she will ask.  She will want to know the story of her birth and the impact she had on our lives.  Someday she will fall in love and have a baby and she will ask about my pregnancies and my deliveries.

And what will I say?  How will I explain my reaction to my daughter without making her feel like the cause of my turmoil?

I am most likely getting ahead of myself.  After all, the girl isn't even out of diapers yet.  

But the fact remains - no matter how much time goes by or how our relationship might evolve over time, my Postpartum Depression will remain a part of her birth story.  Like that one gray cloud that mars an otherwise crystal clear blue sky.  

I know that right now, at only fourteen months postpartum, I am still intimately close to the battle.  The past year and a half has been grueling and intense.  At times it all seemed hopeless because that light at the end of the tunnel was half a galaxy away.  

But as time ticks by, just as with the scars from my appendectomy on my belly or the one that decorates my elbow from the time I fell off the curb in college, the battle scar on my heart from the year after Natalie's birth will fade.  It won't be as noticeable nor will it flare up and ache as often.  It will become just another "war story" in just another chapter of my life.

Time will heal all my wounds, the ones that are visible and the ones that hide in my heart. 

And someday when Natalie is grown and a beautiful young woman with the prospect of children in her immediate future, I will tell her my story.  I will share with her my fears and my challenges.  About how I was so overcome with love for her that I wanted the absolute BEST for her....and then subsequently wound myself up into a pretzel trying to be the perfect mother.  I will weave in the lessons I learned about the true meaning of partnership, independence and humility.

After talking with Craig, maybe I'm making too big a deal out of that one tiny little question.  Maybe Natalie won't care all that much or take anything personal from my experiences.  Maybe she'll be completely different from me and wear an armor made of Teflon whereas I am coated in glue.  


Erin said...

THe baby book we have lists the same question which in turn I have also left blank. Many of my descriptive words would be the same that you've listed. I do recall immediately after finishing pushing I felt this surge of love for Brandon. Like whoa we did it, the last nine months sucked but we did it we had a baby. But as for my feelings for Jackson I was still just focused on finishing the birthing process. And then his lungs were filled with liquid and he was rushed away to a doctor so I never got my moment to feel those emotions. Even when he returned to my room two hours later it was no crazy feeling. Just normal. Isn't that crazy? It just felt right, like yep this is what it's all been leading up to.

I know what the books say and what many moms say, but over the last 14 months the more birth stories I read i find that you and I are the norm. That not all moms get that crazy rush of love and we are no less wonderful moms than these other women.

Stay strong mama, you're doing great!

Laura said...

I know you're right about us being the norm - that question just popped up out of the blue. I had no idea that I would have such a visceral reaction to it. But I have decided what word I'm going to use to describe that day - overwhelming. I think that encompasses all the good and the bad emotions I went through on the day (and days after) she was born.

annajanine said...

Perfect word. Overwhelming. And this will be a cherished gift of a story to her when you deem her wise enough to hear the full truth. She knows she's loved!