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.