I had a rare moment today to visit my WordPress site. I metaphorically dusted off the log in screen and wiped cobwebs from the home page. And there, hiding in a shadowed upper corner, was the word Drafts with the number 6 next to it.
Six drafts? When did I write these? I clicked to access the mystery folder, wondering what art and wisdom I’d neglected to publish. I eagerly opened a draft I’d written at some point during the fog of the past four months, hoping to relive the raw love I surely felt in the early weeks of having a newborn. This will be magical, I thought.
What I found instead was the darkest, scariest s*!% I’ve ever read.
That first draft, which I think I’d meant to write as a tribute to my husband’s seamless transition into fatherhood, quickly spiraled from a love story to my questioning WHY I HAD NO MATERNAL INSTINCT and DO I ACTUALLY LOVE MY BABY ENOUGH?
Yeeesh! Let’s click on the next one.
Oh, good! This one is about how my body had essentially crumbled into a BROKEN, TIRED, LEAKING PILE, and I had no control over my thoughts, feelings, or actions, and I would most likely never look or feel human again.
The third draft was entitled “Mommas Feeding Babies.” I remember that I wanted to write about to my own mother and my mother-in-law, who nurtured me body and soul during the weeks after giving birth. The post I found was two sentences long. It read as follows:
I’m sorry for the two-month hiatus from the blog; I’ve been feeding my baby. Yes, the whole time.
The next three posts continued in similar fashion, some resembling the darker works of Edgar Allen Poe and others incomprehensible streams of consciousness. One, the most recent, was a somewhat (deliriously) funny account of Lucy’s birth story. And I’d actually publish it, too, if it didn’t mention my cervix so many times.
But now I have made it to the other side.
I can’t locate when or where or how it happened, but I became myself again after having a baby. And perhaps you weren’t aware that I was lost as you scrolled past yet another filtered photo of my child–grinning and accessorized–on your newsfeed, but I was.
On the other side of the camera I had shoved away the pile of dirty clothes. I had cropped myself out–dark eyes, dirty hair, maternity pants, chipped nails. And behind the Instagram filter and caption, I was wondering if I would ever find myself again.
It only took a few days (perhaps hours) after Lucy was born for me to have my first epiphany about motherhood.
I’m too selfish for this.
The advice had been to enjoy every minute with my newborn, but I didn’t. I was too tired, too emotional, too selfish. It will go by so quickly, they said. It did not.
I was resenting my body–the one that made her–for looking like a balloon that had been forgotten after a party, pathetically deflated.
I was sitting on my couch with a baby on my boob wishing she’d eat, wishing she’d sleep, as the timer on my breastfeeding app tallied 9, 10, 11 hours of nursing that day.
I was suffocating inside my living room walls and scrolling through my own news feed, looking at people on beaches and mountains and pegasus pool floats.
I was watching other people earn promotions and degrees and success while I was watching TV and I was wondering, Who am I now? How did I get here? Was this the right decision?
I was calling myself, “Milk Lady.” I was saying, “She’s just using me!”
And I was thinking that the two hardest things I had ever done in life were to lose a baby, and then to have one.
But now I’m on the other side.
You’ll forget this part. It melts away. You’ll want more children. You will be yourself again.
Just wait until she starts smiling/laughing/sleeping/nursing faster.
Just wait until your body heals/feels more rested/fits in your clothes.
Just wait until you can take her out/leave her with a sitter/find time for yourself.
It seemed so far away. It seemed like one. long. day.
And then it didn’t.
I had made it to the other side.
“I literally, no bias, think she is the cutest human to ever grace the face of the earth. Oh my gosh. Come look at her! She’s grabbing her rattle. She’s an absolute genius. She rolled over! That’s so advanced for her age. Look at this photoshoot we did today. Which of these 47 photos do you think is the cutest? Oh, all of them? Let me add them to the shared folder. Haha look at the face she is making right now! That looks exactly like you. I just love her so much. She is so funny. She only has one dimple. Ol’ Lopsided Lu! She’s my favorite. She started snorting like a pig again today. She’s being so cuddly. We got the best baby. How did we get so lucky? I love this baby. I love her. I love her. Lucy, let’s take a selfie.”