Monday, 13 April 2015

Breakfast, Birdy Style

The Occhipinti Boys

When a friend contacted me asking to take some photos of her boys for their deployed daddy, how could I say no? I loved how the boys brought along their "daddy dragons" who they cuddle with when they miss daddy and the dragons got in on the action too. Such a sweet family.

Friday, 27 March 2015

one more week

Four weeks. 
That's what I told myself in the beginning. Just four weeks. 

I felt that I had suddenly been thrown into a life of another person. Like someone had placed me in a rowboat with no paddles, handed me a newborn baby and pushed me off into the sea without another word. Following a birth that didn't go as planned, my family who last minute cancelled their long awaited visit, and a toddler who was angry at both mommy and daddy for the new addition to our family, I felt lost, I told myself I just had to make it to four weeks and it would all get easier. It was all a blur, and not the usual overtired and overwhelmed blur that you expect when a new baby arrives. I felt like I was watching my life go on outside of my body, like I was just on autopilot and going through the motions of it all. The real me was there, just watching, unable to help and unable to do anything other than telling myself, just make it to six weeks. 

At six weeks we were at my discharge appointment with my midwife. She asked me how I thought my birth went, and I smiled even though I didn't want to and I said I didn't remember it. Because I didn't and I still don't remember the birth of my second baby. She said she wasn't surprised because I seemed "so out of it" and like I "wasn't there." I kept smiling, but inside I wanted to scream and cry and ask why she didn't try to connect with me, why she felt like I wasn't there but didn't ask if I was okay, why she felt like something was wrong but no one asked what it was. Why my birth choices were questioned and why I felt traumatized. Just make it to eight weeks. Just eight weeks. 

"Fake it 'till you make it." It was some of the best advice I had gotten so far. Connecting him to his own birth was still difficult for me. Connecting him to the baby I loved and nurtured and grew with my body for ten whole months was difficult for me. Eight weeks and I was still learning how to love my own baby. I wore him close to me, I rocked him every time he cried, I held him close while he slept and smelled his red hair. He was the perfect baby. An amazing sleeper, a sleepy smiler, I whispered to him that I loved him, that he was my baby, that mommy would do anything she could to protect him and make him happy. His sister forgave us. She told him to "shh, shh, shh" when he cried, as soft and gentle as she heard us tell him. I faked it the best I could. Ten weeks. I could fake it until then.

Ten weeks. Was I faking it anymore? I realized that I worked hard for his smiles. That even though we were never into baby talk, I repeated every goo and gah back at his happy face, that every time he searched for me in the room and found me, his smile after was the lighthouse beacon through the fog. I found myself missing him when he slept and cherishing every dimple. The way one of his eyes gets smaller when he smiles, just like his sister, just like me. When he cried out at night, "maaaahhh", I swore he was calling for me, not because he needed to nurse or be comforted, but because he knew I needed him as much as he needed me. 

Ten weeks is what it took for me to realize that I loved my baby. 

I lost ten whole weeks to postpartum depression. My life consisted of going through the motions, holding and nursing my baby for those first times on autopilot, while the real me was buried deep within myself. At almost twelve weeks now his newborn smell is starting to fade. He's lost half of his thick red hair. He barely sleeps in my arms anymore. He is already so much more different than the baby that was birthed in our living room, with thick chubby cheeks and rolls that go on for days. I didn't get to know him well enough, that baby born into my own hands. Those irreplaceable moments were taken from me by myself and forgiveness is just one more thing I have to accept.

There is still a small splatter of blood on the bottom of my bedroom door. I've left it there intentionally. I barely remember being led into our bed and being handed our baby, but the small red stain helps me. The photos taken help me remember. He is my baby. I grew every inch of him with my body, every one of his fingers, every one of his toes. I don't remember him being born, although I'm told I was strong. Although I'm told I was loud and I pushed hard, I don't remember my baby being born into my arms. I don't remember much of the early days, or of the first few weeks. I don't remember his first few cries or how he wanted nothing but to nurse. I don't remember the first time he opened his eyes. I don't remember the first time I smelled how new he is, but I know I already miss it all.

Just one more week. One more week and it will be easier than the last week. Just make it to twelve weeks, I tell myself. Twelve weeks and you will forgive yourself a little more than you did last week. Just make it to twelve weeks. Maybe then you can finally say you feel alright. One more week, and then we will look to the next week after that. Just one more week and maybe then then you will finally start forgiving yourself for missing out on the moments when you were right there all along.
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