Posts Tagged ‘pour your heart out’

The First Year.

Last night I got my hair cut (but that’s not what this is about).

The woman who cut my hair (a genius, by the way) is very, very pregnant. And, as all very pregnant women are wont to do, she wanted to talk about babies. Specifically, having babies, and the experiences gained in the months that follow.

She’s in that very hopeful stage. The one where birth plans are written, onesies folded, and dreams are dreamt.

The one where everything goes perfectly. Where labor lasts two hours, epidurals are unnecessary, and breastfeeding  begins without a single hiccup.

But she also wanted reassurance. She wanted me to tell her, based on my own experience, that everything would go that smoothly.

I couldn’t do it.

Nothing about Tori’s birth (or the immediate aftermath) went as I had planned.

I was certain I wouldn’t have a c-section. Was sure I would earn a gold medal for my efforts during labor and delivery. And knew breastfeeding would be a cinch.

Boy, was I wrong.

I mean, yes, thank goodness, Tori arrived, as healthy as can be. But nothing else worked out.

She was breech. The drugs they fed me during the surgery made me so sick that I couldn’t  hold her for the entire afternoon after she was born. And breastfeeding? Was torture. For both of us.

But I never realized how bitter I was about the whole thing until I started to try to reassure this trying-hard-not-to-be-anxious mama-to-be.

Quite frankly, I feel robbed.

On top of everything else, I ended up with postpartum depression after I returned to work. I was absolutely certain that I was the worst mother ever. I even convinced myself that she loved her daycare provider more than me (because how could any child love a mom like me?).

There was almost never a moment when I didn’t feel completely inadequate.

And now, four years later, I find myself feeling exceedingly angry about it.

It’s not fair that that’s the only experience with childbirth and infancy that I’ll ever have. It’s not right that my memories of those first months (and there were plenty of purely joyous moments) will always be overshadowed by all that other crap.

It’s not fair.

Throughout my hair cutting session, our conversation continued in fits and starts.

She’d ask me a question. I’d try to put a positive spin on an ugly situation. And she’d end up giving me a pitying look.

When I got up to leave, I looked up and smiled, trying to hide the sadness ripping my brain apart.

“Good luck,” I said.

It was only later that I realized that wasn’t the right thing to say. I should have congratulated her and assured her everything would be fine.

But I couldn’t. No one knows how childbirth is going to go.

You just have to hope luck is on your side.

I wish it had been on mine.



The Struggle With One.

I never pictured myself as the mother of an only child. Of course, to be honest, for a long time I didn’t think much about being a mother at all. But when I did, I always pictured myself with two.

Now I’m not so sure.

My daughter’s almost three. Almost out of diapers. Sleeping through the night more often than not. The hardest stuff is almost over.

And I am now 36. In the “advanced maternal age” bracket, as it were.

Add in a financial situation that’s growing ever more tight and common sense dictates that we count ourselves among the “one and done” segment of the population.

It’s not like that’s a bad thing.

My daughter is a beautiful, happy, healthy child. One who I like to think is super smart and super talented. With no other babies to care for, I can focus on her. Play with her. Cuddle with her. Give her what she needs, when she needs it.

With just one child, it’ll be easier to save for things like vacations. More room for extras like dance lessons and soccer teams (or basketball, as she is currently insisting).

More room, period.

And our cozy family does feel pretty perfect, most of the time. When we’re walking down the street, each of us holding one of Tori’s hands, it’s hard to imagine any other dynamic working quite so well.

And when she’s being a monster? It’s hard to imagine adding another child to the mix.

But there are other times. Times when every cell of my body cries out for another child. When it feels like someone’s missing. Like there’s still an empty chair at the table.

I watch her watching other families at the park. Families where multiple children chase each other across the playground, yelling and screaming as they go, and my heart breaks a little. As an only, she’ll never have that.

I think about all the adventures I had with my brother growing up. I remember the day he decided to try and see if he could walk on water, and the lecture we got. I think about the weeks we spent boogie boarding at the ocean, and catching crabs, and dunking each other under the water.

As an only, she’ll never know what that’s like either.

Of course, she also won’t have to deal with the flip side of the sibling experience. She won’t have to deal with the fighting and the hitting and the name calling.

And maybe that’s a good thing.

But as I look at the baby gear still in our garage, or search through her newborn clothes looking for an outfit for her favorite doll, my heart twinges.

Then I hear a friend’s pregnant and it pinches some more.  Even the memory of those brutal weeks after delivery and the depression that threatened to swallow me whole doesn’t make it stop.

I am happy with the family I have. I’m pretty sure my baby-making years are behind me.

But my heart? Still struggles with the thought of having just one.

Wasted Time.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, the Woman I Was stumbles in the door after a long day at work. Ignoring the meowing cats, she plops herself down on the couch for a well-deserved nap.

She’s been asleep for a half hour when her husband calls, wondering what she wants for dinner. She stretches sleepily and thinks for a few minutes.

“Well, we had Thai last night,” she says. “How about sushi?”

He agrees and promises to bring home takeout from their favorite restaurant.

They eat on the couch while watching  home decorating shows on HGTV.

Later, she looks at the small laundry pile that lies in front of the washing machine and sighs. When will she ever have time to get through it all?  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

But instead of throwing a load in, she decides it’s time to go to the gym for a a late night workout. She sweats hard, not allowing herself to leave until she’s done 45 minutes on the treadmill, a complete circuit of the weight machines and 250 crunches.

Exhausted, she heads straight for the shower when she arrives home. She lets herself dissolve under the hot spray, not emerging until every drop of warm water has been drained from the water heater.

Then she collapses into bed, already worrying about the next day’s To Do list. There are five items on it.

She has no idea how good she has it.

I compare that with my average day now and  can only shake my head in disbelief. There are no naps for me. No blood-zinging workouts or leisurely showers.

My day started shortly before 5 this morning, when the toddler awoke, soaked with pee. By 6, I had already stripped her bed, done an entire load of laundry and made breakfast.

At lunch, I went to Kohls, the bank and the pharmacy—eating only after I arrived back at my desk.

And when I got home? Well, a day’s work still awaited me. In between reading books, playing doctor and sending the tickle monster chasing after Tori, I helped my husband make dinner, cleaned up the living room, did two more loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen and spent an hour putting the kid to bed.

And now? Now it’s 10:30 and I’m writing a blog post.

Do you know what the Woman I Was would have done after a day like that? Cried. Loudly and inconsolably.

But the funny thing is, today was a good day. I enjoyed the extra snuggle time I got with Tori this morning. And we had a heck of a lot of fun this evening, right up until she had to go to bed.

Getting the dishes done gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Clean laundry means I can get dressed with a minimum of aggravation in the morning. And the exhaustion I feel right now? Means I might actually get a good night’s sleep.

So while the Woman I Was looked way better in clothes and had way more time to read, I wouldn’t trade places with her for anything. I love my life right now—leaky diapers, sallow complexion and all.


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