Today is my first baby’s first birthday. I’m implying my intention to have more babies, not saying I’m preggers.
One year ago today, I was on my back, holding my baby girl in my arms, only slightly aware of the midwife hurriedly sewing the tear that her triumphant, spiraling, shooting exit made in my body. She wasn’t breathing right. My midwife was concerned. She mentioned the word hospital. I was dimly aware of everything going on. I noticed I wasn’t worried. Sometimes I could stand to be more worried about things, but when she said we should call 911 and bring her to the NICU, I said “okaaay” sort of like a little girl being told she can’t have a sleepover tonight.
I was going to go with her, but I was white as a sheet from blood loss. My husband went instead, and endured a million “where’s the Mom?!” inquires from countless strangers. I stayed in bed. Asked for food. Didn’t want the food. Exhausted beyond belief and couldn’t sleep. Relief was my all-pervasive feeling. I did it.
Again, I would expect myself to be more worried… but I knew she’d be ok. Honestly, I think on some cosmic level she just wanted alone time with her Dad for a bit. I was cool with it, if a little bummed.
I had a week alone to prepare for being a Mom after becoming a Mom.
These were probably the most profound moments of my life, second only to losing my Mom. I found that in the wake of giving birth and absent the trial of having your first overnight with an infant, my mind was a factory of profound thoughts. I felt mocked by my lack of energy to do anything with these thoughts. I tried to write, but my focus was all over the place.
For the first two days, I couldn’t even roll over in bed without panting. No breath left. I breathed it all during labor.
Even though I didn’t write then, I’m writing now. I can still vividly remember having the realization that this birthing process was similar to the experience of losing my Mother in 2011. And the only reason I haven’t written about it since then is that I didn’t want to get it wrong. I thought I lost the moment in which I was initially inspired to expand upon the idea. So let me see what I can come up with now…
This is like a high school essay: How my daughter’s birth was much like my mother’s death
Where’s clippy to tell me I need to capitalize my title when I need him?
Thesis: Birth and death are, at once, opposing and synonymous experiences. Losing a mother and becoming a mother are virtually the same.
I don’t feel like writing the whole essay, so here’s the outline.
- Talk about where I am today
- talk about my birth experience
- Present thesis (above)
- explain the experience of losing Mom in greater detail
- some of the stages: shock, denial, anger, fear, “this us unfair,” “why me?”
- Who do I tell this news to? (a daily pick and choose conundrum)
- sad little moments, too sad to repeat
- happy little moments, no one would understand but you and those involved
- being with heartbreak/possibility coupled with crippling fear — “Can I handle this?”
- utter exhaustion, intolerable emotions
- yearning for the “due date” so we could be free of the torture of waiting
- relief after the fact (it was starting to feel like this day would never come, but we were all done with holding on)
- fielding questions and comments from the public (facebook)
- sadness having to do with not being the center of attention anymore — “I’m no longer the girl with a dying Mom… now I’m just a girl with a dead Mom.”
- I’m no longer the pregnant lady, now I’m a Mom with a ton of stuff ahead of me.
I don’t think I need to go back and connect each individual example of what went on while losing my mother to it’s counterpart in the process of becoming one. I think you get it. I will say… I’m so glad I became a Mom. It’s a whole other Universe than the one I was living in before.
And let me say publicly, I DO “get it” now, Mom. I get why you wanted me to call you when I got home after seeing you, even though I didn’t tell you about every time I went out and came back home on the days when I hadn’t seen you. I get why you got so mad at me (and so scared) when I let my boogey board carry me a half a mile down the beach and so far out into the ocean that the lifeguard came to retrieve me at the Jersey shore. I’m really sorry about that one. It also helps me to be ok knowing that Amelia is gonna do all kinds of stupid things and she’s gonna be ok. She needs to have adventures. And she needs me to worry so that one day she can turn to me and say “Mom, I get it.”
Before now, I didn’t know just how connected you were to my heart. You didn’t always show it in the ways I was looking for it. You were surviving Motherhood as best you could without the money or personal fulfillment you needed. You did a great fucking job regardless, and even managed to help a ton of other people along the way. And like I told you, I am living my life as a tribute to you. All of my wins are your wins. All of Amelia’s will be ours. You left a legacy here. And I’m done using you as an excuse as to why I am not more successful. No one reading this will know exactly what I mean by that, but you do. Well, my coach knows. I’m releasing the story that I can’t make more money than you made. I’m done doing that now. I get that you have moved way beyond where you were on Earth and you can see further than I can.
For once… I’m just going to listen to you :)
Cuz, in hindsight, you really do know what you’re talking about.
And that’s what I now know, thanks to motherhood.
See, I am crappy at essays because I prefer a stream of consciousness as opposed to something structured. But I’m going to trust that the point came across.