The completeness of the last entry was a small lie since I did omit some details to keep the post readable. Here are some more notable things, plus some notes I made immediately postpartum.
Before the birth, I was afraid. Not so much of the actual labour and birth itself, but the change it will bring to our lives. Have we lived enough childless years? We’ve barely been married. Will I be less of a wife, will M be less of a husband because we will have to share each other with another little being?
I was also angry. Why did I want a child? What was I thinking? I don’t want him. But at the same time I was doubly angry with myself for having these thoughts. Why didn’t I think through this earlier? It’s too late and I’m ruining our lives.
M never left my side. Except to pee and eat, he was preset for the nearly the entire labour. He was literally there for 99% of it, holding my hands, telling me that it’ll all be okay, that each contraction was one closer to meeting our baby, that there’s nothing to fear but it’s ok to be afraid, that he loves me no matter what.
Labour itself was indeed frightening. It was so powerful and foreign to everything I’ve ever known.
There was a side to M that I never saw before. There was also a part of me that I never saw before, but that’s less surprising somehow. M’s unwavering strength was one reason I soldiered on unmedicated for so long.
For a few weeks, I would sit and cry for little reason. Well, the reason was my hormones were going bat-shit, but the triggers seemed random. In the early nights when R would not sleep unless he was being held, we would sit by the fireplace while M slept. I would watch him sleep, and start weeping inexplicably.
Afterpains (uterine contractions while nursing immediately postpartum) aren’t bad except for the empty, hollow feeling. No more complaints of kicking and discomforts. I can eat whatever, sleep however I want, but I miss having another life in my belly. I could no longer protect him the way I used to. Sometimes, I wish he weren’t born. I felt so bad for wishing it, but I did.
R has these few moments of quiet lucidness — big brown eyes looking aimlessly around, awake but not demanding. The rare moments when he looks you in the eyes (by chance) are so overwhelmingly powerful.
The thought that this small thing would only remain so small for a fleeting amount of time made me seriously cherish every moment. I mean, I’ve said those things before at other times in my life… but compared to spending time with R, it was like I haven’t lived before. This was so real, so urgent, so incredible. It made me regret a little that I didn’t live this way before.
I hate, hate that these perfect moments can never be relived, except through such imperfect medium as pictures, words, memories. I’m so afraid of forgetting the magic, that one day I might forget that I once had these wonderful, perfect moments in life, that I will stop appreciating them. I’m so afraid of R growing up.
I felt so inadequate. By all appearances I was a mother, happy and healthy, with a happy and healthy baby. But I did not feel like one. I did not know what to do when he cried. During the day when M was at work, I only only able to do a load of laundry. Didn’t even make it to the dryer. How do other mothers do it? Why can’t I? There was nothing natural or instinctual about mothering a child.
Over the next months, I learned to lower my expectations and forgive myself more easily. R also settled down more. Days became liveable and nights, well, we’d get some sleep.
And the fear that we would be any less loving toward each other? Did not come true. It’s like we just found a whole new portion of love for R that doesn’t take anything away from what we already have. Somehow we just… found more love.