I have had exactly three 'mommy meltdowns' since Charlotte was born. The first was on her first night when we let the night nurse take her to the nursery and I felt guilty about it. The second was when I got completely overwhelmed by too much information by a well-meaning lactation consultant instead of just listening to my own instincts. And the third, came the other day, in our bathroom. After a fussier than normal night, I stood staring at my disheveled self in the mirror after getting Charlotte down for bed. My incision hurt, I felt like my stomach was getting stabbed from the inside out by horrendous gas pains, and my nipples felt like I had been given a hundred million titty twisters in a row. So, I cried.
I'm sharing this because there has been something on my mind lately. I secretly hoped that after having Charlotte, that I would be able to talk to other moms about being a mother and not feel different. But the truth is, I am different. Still different. If I'm being honest, as I have fielded the usual questions that come with having a new baby, I have had to work hard to hide my annoyance and remain polite. It has taken me a little while to dig beneath this emotion and discover it's root. Why would it bother me to be asked about how breastfeeding is going? How is she sleeping? How are you coping? Didn't I want to be a part of this club called 'normal' motherhood? The only ones who seem to have been spared these feelings are my closest friends who have been with me 'in the trenches' and other rainbow moms.
I eventually recognized that old emotion bitterness creeping out from within. It turns out I have a low tolerance for these types of conversations because typically those asking have never had to be in my shoes. That the worst or hardest thing they have ever faced is how badly their boobs hurt or the frustration of a colicky baby who has robbed them of sleep. I realized I resent them for it. Isn't that awful? Saying it out loud makes me feel like a terrible person. After all, it's not their fault. I would never EVER wish my experiences on anyone. They are just well-meaning moms trying to welcome me to the club.
But, my club is different. Rainbow moms know what I mean.
Instead of venting to you about the typical newborn baby issues, let me tell you about the challenges I have really found to be daunting. Like getting out a baby item that has been sitting in the closet for a year and half and seeing that it is covered in dust. Every speck of that dust pisses me off or saddens me depending on the day, but at the same time, I am so thankful to be able to finally put it to use. Or, like plugging in the baby monitor that we spent a buttload of money on before Callie was born, only to find that the battery won't charge and it's been over a year so it's out of warranty. (A really nice man in customer service listened to our story and is sending a factory refurbished cord- fingers crossed that it works!) It makes me so mad! Or, thinking about Mother's Day and the bittersweet feelings it brings. Or, accidentally saying Callie's name instead of Charlotte's. Or, looking down at our amazing girl and simultaneously being overjoyed that she is here and depressed that her sister could not stay. Or, staring at Charlotte and seeing a feature that reminds me of Callie. Or, on the other hand, seeing her perfection and it reminds me of Callie's fragility. It's just not fair. I'm having flashbacks frequently. I kiss Charlotte and remember kissing Callie right before she took her last breath. And then I get scared that I could possibly experience that kind of loss again and I clutch Charlotte, afraid of what could be. I imagine having to go through the loss all over again and how that would utterly ruin me to experience it twice. That takes the whole 'leaning over the crib to make sure your baby is still breathing' thing to a completely different level than your average mom.
I could go on, but I won't. Because really, although all of those challenges are difficult, they have not overshadowed the joy. When I say that the past two and a half weeks have been amazing, I am not lying. I am not glossing things over. Because, to me, even my messy mommy meltdowns are a true gift from God. I never said it has been a total breeze. Just that it has been filled with tiny miracles. Every cry. Every breath. Even the scabby nips. Miracles.
Sometimes, when I write things, I worry about what people will think when they read it. It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad if you have been one of the kind-hearted friends who has asked, "Hey, how's it going?". And it's also not my intention to make people stop asking. Please, don't stop. You, be you. No one should feel guilty for having a life I am envious of at times. That is MY issue. It is a delicate balance. On one hand, I have to give myself permission to be a 'normal' mom. To feel the same joys and frustrations as everyone else. And on the other, I have to recognize and accept that I'm not your average mother and make peace with it. (Who is, right?) I was able to do that by the end of my pregnancy, and I am confident that I will work through those emotions again now that Charlotte is here with us.
Because this is my little slice of the internet, I write from the heart. And this is what motherhood looks like for me right now, from the heart.
Scary. Blissful. Frustrating. Amazing. All at the same time. Maybe I'm not so different after all....
**p.s. I have many Kindness for Callie updates coming soon! Feeling blessed to be so supported in this effort :-)