At naptime yesterday, I did the treadmill for a while and cleaned up the kitchen and picked up some toys and read a bunch of your comments on my last post while bawling my eyes out. And I mean bawling with much snottage and looking like I had been in a fistfight after, which had probably been coming on for a while but hell, who has time for that sort of thing? And it wasn't even everyone who told me it was going to be ok, because I know it is going to be ok, better than ok, and while I do appreciate hearing it, I don't need to hear it. What I did need to hear was what you told me, that I wasn't a bad mom, wasn't a bad person, that you had thought the same things, worried about the same things, and gotten through all of it to the good bit at the end.
I don't know why the internet makes this easier, why I am better able to say to the world at large that hey, I'm having these bad thoughts or I'm feeling these things that I am sort of ashamed of feeling than I am able to say the same thing to a friend or to my husband. Or maybe I do know, maybe it is because when you say that to one person there is the risk that they will look at you like you are a lunatic or unworthy or a bad mother and will have no connection whatsoever to what you are telling them, but when you tell the internet the chances are good that someone out there will have gone through the same thing and be willing to own up to it and just to say yes, yes honey, you are not the only one, and it will be ok in the end.
And that is partly why whenever I am asked by a pregnant woman or a brand new mom how those first few days and weeks were with Mia, I tell them the truth. They were miserable. I had been fed all the lines by the stupid pregnancy books that as soon as the baby was in your arms the clouds would part and a radiant swath of sunshine would illuminate your life and the angels would sing and you would suddenly know a love like no other that made it all worth it. And that is bullshit. I mean sure, maybe it happened that way for you, and if you had asked me early on I would have claimed it happened that way for me, but it was nowhere close. Really it was just bizarre and miserable and confusing. I was drugged and in pain and couldn't quite understand that I was no longer pregnant and that this alien being I had been handed was the child I was supposed to love more than air.
I wanted to sleep. I wanted an hour to myself. I wanted to be able to get out of bed without being in agony. I wanted this strange little person who I would certainly never understand to stop chewing my boobs all to hell because it hurt like a motherfucker and made me really, really angry. I wanted, more than once, to just jump out the window and run far, far away. Yes, of course, I stayed and cared for and protected that baby, but only because she was helpless and it was my responsibility, not because I felt any particular adoration for the squalling, messy thing. And it wasn't post partum depression, and it wasn't hormones, and it wasn't anything wrong with me. It was that it was hard, very hard. And I don't want to scare the new parents, but I wish that someone had told me ahead of time that it might take time for me to love my child so much that I would happily lay down and die for her and consider it a small price to pay, and that it was ok if it took that time. That I would get some sleep and get to know her a bit and it would happen. So that is what I tell people, when they ask me.
And so my deepest thanks to all of you who told me that you had doubts and fears about the second one, and that it worked out in time, and that it is ok to feel that way. I needed to hear that more than you can know.