A Bittersweet Birthday

2012-12-25 03Analytical Baby just turned one, and I’ve been reliving some rough times.  What?  Rough times?  But babies being born are wonderful times, right?  Yes and no.

I love Analytical Baby more than anything, but I didn’t feel joy at his birth.  I no longer believe this is my fault.  I felt really guilty for a long time.  Why don’t I feel overcome with joy?  My baby deserves better than this!  And crap like that.  But I no longer believe it’s my fault.  It’s just the way it is, and most likely due in a large part to hormones.  My oxytocin wasn’t firing at all.  This might’ve had something to do with the drugs and the surgery.  It might have had something to do with the fear and the pain and the grief of not getting the birth experience that I wanted for me and for him.  I was so sad for him.  And I was sad for me.  I was thrilled he was alive and healthy but (SHOCKER) human beings are capable of lots of emotions at once.

So, for the days surrounding his birthday, I relived all these highs and lows, and I made a questionable decision: I shared them with the world.  Well, with my Facebook friends, but I believe that that is pretty much sharing with the world, because I trust Facebook privacy about as far as I can throw it.  It was basically a very short version of my birth story, told in nine status updates over two days.  It told of my excitement and strength in labor, my fear and pain in the transfer to hospital, my numbness and loss in the surgical birth, my desperation in the separation, and my relief and joy in finally getting to hold him on the second day of his life, which is when I felt like I became a mother.

The outpouring of support and understanding has been amazing.  I’m so glad I shared, because the feeling that so many people truly understand me and stand with me makes me feel so strong and loved, like I can endure anything.  It overshadows the guilt, the grief, the fading-but-still-there sense of loss that I carry with me.

But not everyone was so kind.  A few people said really hurtful things.  From what I infer, they seemed put off that I would post negative thoughts and feelings around my baby’s birth, and they seemed perhaps to have only read the one I posted at the moment of his birth, which was admittedly a darker one, because it was a dark time.  It was surrounded by joy on either side, but being in the O.R., the surgical theater, was not a joyous time.

And I think that’s really what bugs some people.  Perhaps they think I’m being cruel to my baby by saying that the moment of his birth was not particularly joyous.  When I first held him was blissful, when I took him home was wonderful, when I was finally able to really bond with him was magical, and our year together has been wonderful beyond what words can describe.

But his birth was sad and scary.  I kept thinking about him entering the world in a white hospital room to men in masks, and being taken to a table, when he should be on my skin.  I was still in that stage of grief where you deny that it’s really happening, because it can’t be.  This is my baby, the most important person in my world, and I did everything right for him to have the best start, for us to have the best start, and this was all wrong.

Anyway, back to my posts.  People don’t want to hear that.  They want you to sugarcoat it.  They were probably reading my posts, waiting for the moment of birth where I say that it was all worth it because he was so beautiful and I fell instantly in love.  But I didn’t.  That took time.  And I’m not going to lie.

I think they thought it was selfish that I would focus on myself on his birthday and not him.  But I only know my side of the story.  I know how I felt.  And a year later, those are the thoughts on my mind.  If they know me, if they’ve paid any attention, they’ve seen all the evidence over the past year of how much I enjoy and adore Analytical Baby.  That should never be questioned simply because I have been honest about my traumatic birth.

These people say things like “but you have your baby!  That’s the most important thing.”  As if we hadn’t realized that.  As if we were saying we would trade our healthy child for a better birth experience.  That’s ridiculous.  Or perhaps they think that we should realize that it all turned out fine, so let go of the pain, and forget about it.  All’s well that ends well, right?  Yeah, all is well now, and that’s wonderful, but I’m well now for a reason, and part of that reason is that I have processed my trauma, and part of the way I do that is by telling every person I can my story.  Every time I tell it, it hurts less.  Every time I share it, I feel stronger, bigger than it.

And no matter how far I grow past it, I always want to remember.  I want to remember how it felt, so I know how far I’ve come, and how strong I am.  It’s part of our story.  When Analytical Baby is old enough to hear his story, I will share with him how scared and sad I was that he didn’t get to come into this world peacefully, how desperate I was to be with him, how much his dad and I fought to hold him and take him home, and how strong he was to make it through and heal so well.  I think he’ll appreciate knowing the truth instead of some glossed over story.

In the end, it was a small price to pay for the love of my life.  I don’t even think I would change it now, if I could, because it might change the end result, which is perfect.  I’m proud of all of our strength for getting past such a rough start.  But I will never sugarcoat what we went through, and on the anniversary, I will always remember.

For those of you contemplating opening yourselves up to share such an experience, let me tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart.  People will make insensitive comments that hurt your already vulnerable feelings.  They probably won’t mean to.  But WAY more people will thank you for sharing, will tell you how strong you are, will compliment your courage and tell you how much you helped them by being honest.  Just like the hard times of his birth were worth it, the hard times of sharing it were worth it too.  I hope you find the same.

Leave Comment