I DIDN’T LIKE MY BABY
Not at first. I was sure there was something wrong with me. I could only call him “the baby,” like he was someone else’s. It wasn’t that I disliked him. I just felt like he was something I had no connection with. Like maybe he wasn’t real, or wasn’t really mine. I didn’t feel that overwhelming love that people tell you about. That intense love that everyone feels for their child the moment they’re born. I was just kind of glad he was out slightly resentful that he was so needy for our time so we couldn’t just get on with our lives already. It was a sure case of postpartum depression.
PART OF HAVING A CHILD IS MOURNING THE DEATH OF THE OLD YOU.
There is a sadness that comes along with birth that I think is more common than people talk about. It balances though. All that stuff about loving something more than you’ve ever loved anything before is true – it really does happen. It happened to me, but it just took a while. Six weeks after Noa was born I woke up at 3am to express him a bottle of milk. He was sleeping with DG in the other room. When I brought the bottle in, I looked at the two of them and suddenly I fell deeply in love with that tiny creature we had created. It was like the spell had broken, the blinders had come off and everything that had been there the whole time became real.
I laid back in bed with a love so big exploding out of my chest I felt like the Grinch on Christmas Day. My heart grew three sizes with how full it was; love brimmed over the edge with some glowing madness I’d never before experienced. But it took six weeks to get there.
I made a pact to myself that day that I would spend as much of my time as possible being present in every moment. The thing I most remember hearing is about how fast everything goes. How if you blink you can miss it all. From then on I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to living in the here and now with my beautiful family and my tiny little man.
TODAY IS DAY ONE OF THE REST OF OUR LIVES.
I no longer cared if we left the house during the day. We did family yoga and giggled on the floor when the dog licked us in the face. There was enough to keep us busy planning our travels and keeping up with the bits of work we had managed to get. The house chores finally seemed manageable. Spending hours on the lawn chair by the pool getting baby cuddles was everything I needed in a day. It was as if the whole world had reorganized itself into “before Noa” and “After Noa,” and all of a sudden everything seemed to have a purpose. There was intense motivation to create; to create a world where he could be safe; loved; reckless; have everything. It was time to build our castles in the sky.
People say when you have kids that things become all about your kids. I used to be adamantly against this idea. I was sure that when I had kids, everything could continue being all about me. (Egoistic? Selfish? Perhaps…) The truth is when we had Noa I resented … Actually, it seemed that both DG and I resented the reality that faced us- that things couldn’t be about us anymore. From here on out, the center of our universe was to be Noa. It always would be Noa. Not because it had to be exactly, but because we loved him so much and wanted so much for him. To make sure it would all happen, our universes had to shift to revolve around him. He became our sun. You’re world isn’t about your kid because someone forces you to make it that way. Your universe becomes your child because you wouldn’t have it any other way.
There is a magic moment when something happens to you, when something changes you. It’s marked in time and your memory forever as the thing that changed you. The things that gave you purpose, make you real, make you whole. All of a sudden everything before that moment, everything that had happened makes sense, because it was what had to happen to get you to that moment.
That moment for me was that night, when I felt the most real love I’ve ever felt. I knew it even more as I spent the next nights laying awake with a video in my head running of everything that had happened before. All of the good and the terrible. Rolling on repeat, organizing itself, cleaning up my memory’s hard drive. Making space for what would come. None of it mattered more than something to look back on and learn from. All of it was what got me to here and here was the place I am now. The very place I’m sure I am supposed to be.
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