I debated for a while over whether or not to publish this post. A part of me is still reluctant to share my thoughts – even with strangers. Sometimes they are so raw, so painful, so wrong to me, that to even formulate sentences from them is almost unbearable. But then I realised that as long as these thoughts are silent and only in my head, they have power. Power to make me bow my head and cry, power to make me silently apologise to my baby for thinking things that shouldn’t be thought. Power to make me doubt my ability to be a great mother to my wonderful little girl. So I turn to you, my invisible audience, in the hope that by forming (hopefully!) coherent sentences about these feelings I can snatch back that power and hold my head up with pride at what I manage to achieve every day.
Tonight I cried – for longer than I care to admit – over a Facebook quiz. You know, the ones that pop up on your timeline every now and then…’what animal were you in a past life’…’what will your status read ten years from now’…’which friend is your evil twin’. I generally skip past these with a hint of exasperated derision for the people that come up with this junk, but tonight for some reason one caught my eye. ‘What kind of mother are you’. So I clicked the link, and I answered the ridiculous questions about which pop song best summed up my pregnancy, what my favourite play-date snack is, and how my day is going so far (really?! This question is going to tell you what kind of mother I am?!)
The result? I’m a ‘natural mother’. With some spiel about how loving and nurturing and emotional I am, how I’ll always be there for my child (as I imagine most mothers would be) and how every child should be lucky to have me (as I imagine most children would feel about their mothers). Anyway obviously this is all a load of baloney. So why have I sat here silently crying for the past hour? Because of one line in that pointless babble: “From the very first moment your baby came into this world and your life, you felt an endless amount of love.” That was it. One little sentence in an otherwise completely meaningless and contrived paragraph. Because that isn’t how I felt at all. That’s how I feel I should have felt, and I didn’t. And even though my feelings now have changed, I’ll never be able to truthfully tell my little girl that from the moment I laid eyes on her, from the moment I heard her first cry, all I felt was love.
Her birth was by no means the worst in history, but it wasn’t pleasant. Twenty-six hours of labour ended with an emergency C-section when I was told that the baby was much too big to pass through my pelvis (I’m quite petite myself) – something the numerous other doctors and midwives had managed to miss while they were having a good old poke and prod at my cervix over the past day or two. I had already had two epidurals (not handled well by my needle-fearing self!), as well as drugs to bring on stronger contractions, anti-nausea drugs and the obligatory gas and air. A lot for someone who rarely takes even the mildest of painkillers. By the time my little chunk arrived I was so drugged up I barely remember the actual moment of her arrival, and the two days following that I was no better; at one point I was almost hysterical as I tried to convince the nurse I’d had twins and someone must have stolen my other baby in the night (this absolutely wasn’t true, but I do remember feeling absolutely convinced I was missing a baby, and so confused as to why no one else was concerned). I was tired, scared, alone (my husband wasn’t allowed to stay in the hospital with me overnight) and suddenly overwhelmed by the fact that this tiny human was now solely dependent on me, and I couldn’t even go to the toilet unassisted.
Like I said, it’s hardly the birthing horror story of the year, but neither was it the magical experience I had dreamed of. I also can’t say it’s the reason for my depression, as I had had concerns over my lack of feelings for the baby before she was born. But it’s something that brings me a lot of guilt now, and I wish more than anything that I could look back and say “yes, I had a traumatic birth, but it was all worth it when I held my baby for the first time”. Unfortunately that’s not the case. How do I make my peace with that?
Sometimes, when the storm is raging and that little bitch in my head is particularly malicious, she tells me how I failed at the very first motherhood hurdle. That my little one deserves a mother who loved her even before she met her. Sometimes, like tonight, that voice is really hard to silence. Does it make me a bad mother to admit that I didn’t love my baby in her first moments of life? I truly hope not. But just in case, every minute of every day I try to make up for it by loving her with all I am. I know she won’t remember a time when I didn’t love her fiercely and unconditionally. I suppose that’s my silver lining this time, my hint of the rainbow. Hopefully that knowledge will be enough to silence the bitch for a while. Or maybe, maybe voicing the unspeakable here, acknowledging these thoughts that I am so ashamed to think, maybe that will silence her. We live in hope.
Sweet dreams all.