Peter’s Birth : The Aftermath

9 Sep

I’ve been avoiding writing this post all day. I guess I’m afraid of what my promise to be ‘Brutally Honest’ might entail.  I’m afraid Peter might read this someday and think that for one moment he wasn’t loved. (So let me take a second here and tell this to my son: You were loved right from the start, with a love so big it can never be touched. Mommy just had a hard time dealing with herself, her thoughts, her emotions, but it was never about you my beautiful boy.)

We stayed for 4 nights in the Hospital. On the third night Phillip was ready to go home but I wasn’t. The Dr. came in with the release papers, so I gave her my best “Let me stay another night” look, she smiled and said it was probably better to wait another night and left. The hospital was such a comfortable and safe place. Nurses would come by every 30 minutes to check on us. They made me feel secure, like nothing had happened, the motherhood bubble.  But alas, on day 5 it was time to go home.   The moment we arrived it hit me like a ton of bricks. The anxiety: We have a baby. There’s a baby in the house.  We have a baby. He’s here; the baby is in the house!!

Phillip took to parenthood like a pro (Which only made me feel worse about my own parenting skills)  He changed diapers, put him to sleep, bathed him; I on the other hand was so weak I stood on the sidelines looking at this little fragile baby that needed me constantly. I was terrified. I felt totally unprepared. I felt guilty. This little boy was here and I wasn’t prepared to take care of him. I felt stupid, I mean, it’s not like they just gave him to me, I had 9 whole months to prepare, and still I felt so clueless.  But the worst thing I felt, the one I have never told anyone about:  I felt abandoned. I had almost died and no one cared.  What about ME? All of a sudden everything became about someone else, and I didn’t know how to handle it. I used to take the longest showers just so I could be by myself, to feel like me again.  I wanted things to go back to the way they were. I realized Peter’s life would change our lives, and I didn’t want that to happen. I wanted to go back in time, to go back to being pregnant without this big responsibility on my shoulders.  It shames me that I was so self -centered, so selfish, but it’s the truth.

Breastfeeding was another hurdle I would have to battle (thankfully we made it). It was extremely painful for me (as it is for so many women), and I was so weak from everything that happened that the only times I had direct contact with Peter was when he was handed to me to breastfeed. So the few moments we were actually alone were a source of pain and anguish for both of us. Before Peter’s birth I had set my breastfeeding goal to a minimum of 6 months.  After a week at home I was sure I wouldn’t make past the next feeding. I hated feeding time. I would cringe when they opened the door.  All I could feel was the pain, I was blinded. It breaks my heart to think that when they opened the door it was my little Peter in their arms; had that happened today I would have ran to take him. But I was in a bad place then and I have to make peace with what my feelings were.

I used to look at Peter while he slept and think about my feelings for him. I knew I loved him, but I didn’t know HOW to love him. I know it makes no sense. I’ll try to explain: I had heard so many times of this unconditional love, this over the moon feeling, this never felt before emotion. Yet I didn’t know how THAT was supposed to feel. I was terrified that I just wasn’t there. I was ashamed. Never in my wildest nightmares had I imagined not being in love with my son. I was scared. Where was this instant bonding everyone kept talking about? What was wrong with me? I was losing my mind. This must be post partum depression.

When people came by to meet Peter they would tell me they imagined how happy I was, how now I had everything I had ever wanted, how my life was perfect. I nodded. Yes, life’s perfect (Guilt).

One day I asked a close relative who’d just had a baby if she was anxious at all when she got home from the clinic. I did everything I could to keep the conversation casual. To hide my true intentions. To hide my feelings. To hide the monster.  I was laughing when I asked her, as if it was nothing. She told me she wasn’t anxious at all, and she went on and on about this incredible instant love she felt, and how motherhood is just that, magical love. I nodded. Yes, me too.

I became so ashamed of my feelings. Ashamed for being so weak. For putting my own insecurities before my son. I didn’t allow myself to cry. I felt I didn’t even deserve the comfort of tears.  I put on the mask everyone wanted me to wear, but inside I was a mess. One day I couldn’t take it anymore, I was so afraid this would be my relationship with Peter forever, that I would be perpetually anxious, nervous, unhappy. I got on the phone and called a girl I knew; she had just given birth 4 months ago. As soon as she answered I started talking. And what do you know? She was honest. Brutally Honest. She told me her story, her feelings, her struggle. As she spoke I began to breathe a little easier. So I wasn’t losing my mind. Someone else also struggled.  She was sweet and patient. And most importantly: She never judged me. She let me speak, unload, she reminded me I wasn’t alone. When we hung up I felt lighter. I have talked about her before on my blog. But  I just want to say thank you again. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

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One Response to “Peter’s Birth : The Aftermath”

  1. mrsmouthy September 13, 2012 at 4:34 PM #

    So glad you found a kindred spirit at just the right time. Breastfeeding was SO PAINFUL for me–as soon as my first baby would latch on I’d start yelling out a long string of profanities. After about 2 months it finally didn’t hurt anymore. Good news: it’s hurt less and less with each baby I’ve had.

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