Pre-pregnancy me knew exactly who I was. I knew exactly what I loved, what I hated, what was important to me, and what standards I could hold myself to.
I was a dedicated artist. I worked in a number of mediums. It was hard to find me without paint or ink or glue stuck under my fingernails. I loved teaching my students. I was an avid photographer. I constantly had a camera with me wherever I went. I would spend as much times I as needed to get the perfect shot of whatever came into my view. I wanted to run a successful home business. I was an inspired dancer. I would spend hours upon hours in the studio or at the gym, working on my technique. I wanted to be a worthy competitor when I competed, and eventually become a dance teacher. I was a horror movie junkie. I would watch anything and everything with even a mild undertone of fear and write little psychoanalytical analysis’ in my head. I loved the creative aspect of it; what could be done to get a more effective scare? Why did the killer react the way he did? What made him deprived? I was a spirited singer. I spent more time around my house singing then talking. I would make dinner singing and dancing around to the radio. I wanted to have a strong, powerful voice. I was an passionate actress. I study my favorite shows and parts with a drive that was seemingly endless. I had once thought that I would never be good enough to do the parts I so longed for and had been proved wrong. I believed that if I worked hard enough and found the right show, I just might pull it off.
I loved rockabilly fashion and pretending I was a pinup. I was a quasi-master of victory rolls and loved trying out new hair colors. I adored black eyeliner with wings and red lips more then any other makeup style in the world! I loved (and still do, don’t get me wrong!) my husband and my family more then anything, but could be independent when I had to be. I was determined to be a strong military wife! I was shy in new situations, but would warm up to people with time. I was a little selfish, and a little self-absorbed, but who isn’t in their 20s? I worked hard and went after what I wanted with gusto.
All that being said, there was a part of me that wanted a baby more then anything else. We tried for a long time. Years. They told me we probably won’t have one, but couldn’t tell me why. Unexplainable infertility. That was heartbreaking for me. My son was my miracle baby. He is everything I dreamed about and everything I wanted.
When they finally told me I was pregnant, I didn’t believe them. The disbelief didn’t last long though. Within two days I was sicker then I had ever been in my life, and it was near constant for the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy. I was so dehydrated that I had to go in multiple times in the first half of pregnancy for IVs just to function. I went from working my stocking job 4 times a week to 1 because my body could not handle it. On top of it, I got horribly depressed and anxious about everything. I was agoraphobic, and when I did have to go out, I would have panic attacks when faced with more then a couple of people at a time.
Around 6 months of pregnancy, we moved from Colorado Springs to Olympia, Washington. This only made my anxiety worse, though it did connect me with the midwife who would eventually deliver both of my children.
So fast-forward to September 2015. I prematurely went into labor and gave birth 6 weeks early to my son. I labored with him for three days, and pushed for three hours. When they put him on my stomach, he was bluish purple, and the only thing I remember thinking was “He isn’t crying. Isn’t he supposed to cry?” I didn’t get even a beat there to look at him. As soon as he was there on me, he was gone. He was rushed to the NICU and I had no idea what my son even looked like. It was almost 8 hours before I actually saw him with my own eyes.
Even so, It was different then I expected. This little puzzle piece that I thought was just going to complete my whole life didn’t fit exactly the way I thought he would.
For some women, (and if there are other mommies out there reading this that want to weigh in, I would love to hear it) I think that the baby fills the hole. At least that is what I thought it was supposed to do. It is something that they always wanted and always planned on doing every since they were little girls themselves. I wasn’t really that little girl. I didn’t love baby dolls and feel a constant need to take care of them. I wanted to do so many different things.
From the minute my little boy was born, I had this new identity: Mom. And I love it. But part of me feels like it just shattered all of the other parts of me that existed before. Some of the pieces found new purposes. The singer in me loved serenading the boy with Disney songs. The family lover’s heart just swelled like crazy. I have so much more to love.
I mostly just felt lost. How do I figure out how to make the rest of me fit? Do I just have to let go of the dreams I had before? Are there parts of me that are gone forever and I never realized that they were going to be?
There wasn’t any more time for art projects or plays. I found it so hard to get out of bed, or get of the couch. Every time he cried (and he cried a lot, poor little colicky baby) I cringed and sometimes cried myself. The therapists fear that the horror movies make everything worse, so away they went. There was no way I could fit my stretch-marked and uncomfortably heavy mom body into a latin competition dress or a pin up photoshoot dress and be confident ever again. Affording dance competitions at all was a laugh. The anxiety makes it practically impossible to run my business. I can barely leave the house or drive somewhere without throwing up.
And so I found myself… unable to keep up with my house… feeling disconnected from my so wanted and so loved child… and truly believing there was no way out. I would always be this shatter and broken person.
The good news is that those feelings don’t last. Not completely at least. My son is 3 years old now, relatively well adjusted. He loves me, even though it was so hard for us in the beginning. I don’t have as many bad days as I used to. My biggest regret is how much I feel like I missed out on in his first year because I was just so depressed. All of those shattered pieces… some found new homes. Its true that some got tucked away in a box, to be revisited when my children get older, but I learned that it’s ok. It’s still not giving up. I am still that passionate, driven girl I was before I had kids. I’m just… a lot more tired. LOL. But I’m also a lot more loved. ❤
Love and Cheers,