It started with the cocktails. You had made this beautiful fall cocktail, and I was the only one who couldn’t join in the toast. Well, I tried sipping a low-alcoholic version, but it just didn’t do the trick. And, you know, cocktails are our thing! It’s what we were doing for our own little enterrement de vie de jeune fille a few days before I got married. It’s what we did for Thanksgiving two years ago, before there was any question of baby Sam. We’re the bourbon to each other’s cocktails, right? Being singled out as the only one not to have a real and tasty cocktail is what triggered the anxiety. The fear of not belonging as much anymore. The anxiety of not being heard, seen, and known. Feeling like I was stuck in this role of mothering, of caring and being on call 24-7. The fear that my story wasn’t as important anymore.
I realized just how much I had wanted to say but hadn’t, still waiting for the right opportunity to come. Buried inside me were so many deep emotions that seemed impossible to properly put into words. Memories of the delivery, partly at home and partly in the hospital, which had been so exhausting. The days after, which were a jumble of extreme highs and extreme lows. How my world was suddenly brought back to the scope of my bedroom, caring for a tiny new creature day and night and trying to recover physically and emotionally while devoting all my time to nursing and changing diapers. How, bit by bit, my world widened up, until 6 weeks postpartum I suddenly and triumphantly realized I had no more pain, anywhere.
I wanted to tell you of the relief I felt the first time I took a walk outside after weeks of bedrest, hanging on my husband’s arm, and how all the trees were surprisingly green and flowery. I had meant to tell you of three vivid dreams I had, two before the delivery and one after, in which the Holy Spirit showed me He was there all along through the chaos and trauma, holding my hand and cleaning up my mess.
I wanted to express my feelings of failure after the delivery, not having been able to do the water birth at home I had envisioned for so long. I wanted to share how I had journeyed from the feeling that my body was no longer mine and no longer beautiful to the realization that I was so darn proud of my body and all it had accomplished and how it was able to heal and slowly get back into shape – not it’s old shape, but a beautiful and womanly shape nonetheless.
And then I haven’t even gotten to what it was like to literally sacrifice all my time, energy, and emotions for this little human, only to have to let go of him and entrust him to someone else’s care when I started working again. Or how, once I started working, I suddenly felt so very proud for being a mother.
There was so much more I could have said – how I sometimes fear losing the connection with my husband since we always put our little one first. The frustration of being so tired I can’t for the life of me stay awake in the evening for a little quality time and romance, once I’ve sipped half a glass of wine. Of having to rediscover and redefine our relationship with each other. And sometimes feeling (sorry, honey) like I’m caring for two children (who ever decided that women were the weaker sex?!)
All these thoughts and more unconsciously started to bubble up to the surface as I blinked away my tears while holding up my fake cocktail in toast.
I realize now there is no outlet like writing. It’s not bound to time or space the way conversation is. I’m thankful that now, 7 months after our little miracle was born, I’m finally able to put the experience into words. I hope somewhere in the future we can share the amazing experience of motherhood. For now, I’m content with calling attention to my story. All you have to do is listen. Here I am, I am a mother, and I am your friend.