I’m starting with part IV of a series. Think of it like Star Wars. I’ll be bringing you up to speed in installments. Trust me, it’s better this way.
The story of my daughter’s birth week is one I don’t often try to remember. It’s full of painful memories I feel are best kept locked away. I hate not being able to say her birth was The Moment I loved her. It’s hard to explain the circumstances surrounding that first week that landed me in the ER 12 hours a day, two days in a row, until finally being re-admitted for a three day stay. Perhaps one day I’ll share this story with her so she can avoid the same fate, should it come down to it, but for now, I’ll wait to dispense that information until necessary.
The next part of the story, however, is one I’ll share only in-so-much that I hope it’s helpful to her and anyone who may find it.
With such a rough start to motherhood, it’s no surprise I struggled to gain my footing. I was lost for a very long time, angry, hurt. I had expectations of coming home with my daughter and holding her to my breast and feeling a gush of love and emotion. None of this transpired as I’d pictured, not the birth, not the week following, and most certainly not the gush of emotions of love.
Instead, I was afraid.
Nearly paralyzed with my own fear, I gripped her tightly as I walked past the fireplace, picturing her tiny body falling on the bricks in a repeating nightmare. Unable to sleep more than 15 minutes at a time, I checked her breathing on the rare occasion she slept at night. Exhausted, emotional, and a complete wreck, my mom showed up to help out.
She would hold the screaming baby unaffected by her high pitch wail. She would lay her down in the pack-n-play and take a shower leaving the sleeping baby for a full 30 minutes to get dressed. I gasped when she told me this and asked her to check her breathing.
She smiled, rubbed my back and said, “I used to do that with you, too.” I relaxed as she went on “I used to sit and hold you and look at you and cry. I didn’t know what to do with you. You were so… tiny.” My eyes filled up involuntarily as I related. “I was worried you’d die in your sleep or someone would take you. You slept two inches from my bedside and still I worried.”
I didn’t realize how much she would understand that first transition until we were both there, watching history again.
Three months later I was diagnosed with Postpartum depression. I sought refuge after three months of hiding, crying, regretting. I finally wanted to say the words, “I love my daughter” and mean it. My mom’s story was told to my therapist and she nodded quietly saying, “there was nothing you could’ve done to prevent this given your birth experience and your Mom’s history. It’s not your fault. It’s just your story.”
Time is forgiving and memories wash in to each other. I remember that time but it’s not as crisp as it once was. I never went back to that place. But when the time comes, I will share the story with my daughter, when she is ready.
If we’re lucky, history will not repeat for her. Not for her.