Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I lied after the boys were born. I remember my mother asking me one day in the NICU, whether I felt the circumstances of their birth were impacting my bond with them. "Of course not." I believed myself. I loved them, and that meant everything. I had my babies. We were all, ultimately, going to be okay.

It is entirely possible to be blind to things sitting right in front of your face. My first impressions of Rhys: I would have known he was my baby in a lineup of a million others. And I felt like he didn't need me. My 5lb, 2oz preemie just seemed so strong. So independent. I kept this thought to myself. And refused to consider what it might mean. My first impression of Quin? Hardly exists. I don't remember the first time I saw him. Or held him. I remember laying alone in recovery, and the NICU doctor coming to explain to me that Quin was experiencing respiratory distress syndrome. In a haze of postpartum hormones and god only knows what drugs from the delivery, I couldn't register the seriousness of the conversation. I wavered between feeling giggly and overly, confidently relaxed. It will be okay. It will alllllll be okay.

I know that I held them for the first time the next day. I don't remember it. I don't know who I held first or what I said or who was there. I don't know how long I was with them. I desperately wanted to try breastfeeding and somehow convinced the nurses to let me try. What I remember from that is trying to hide from all present the fact that I kept passing out, or falling asleep. Slipping away.

My intentions were so good. My desires were so grand. The next year, two years, perhaps, revolved around one thing and one thing only. Survival in the best way we knew how. There was no time to think. To reflect. To mourn.

It wasn't what it was supposed to be. It became its own, as life does. We went with it. We survived.

But somewhere, hidden below the surface, I fell further and further into the rabbit hole. Things don't just fall away. I never had a chance to grieve the lost first moments of motherhood. We were okay. I had no right to be anything but grateful.

I wish I had seen Quin's face. I wish I could write out the emotions of the first time I cradled them in my arms. I wish I could describe to you the lioness inside of me who awakened to fight til the death for my vulnerable newborns. I don't have any of that to share with you. I don't have any of that to savor for myself.

And that is why I broke.

But this is our journey. It is not what I'd dreamed about. Our beginning has fractures. Holes. Heartbreak. And grief. Oh the grief. But it is our shared history. I don't know why. But it is ours. My boys and I. We are strong. Resilient. Enduring in our love. Forgiving. Letting go. Our roots begin with the understanding that we don't get to choose how it will be. Only how we grow from it.

1 comment:

Adrienne said...

Ugh- I just tried to leave a comment and I think blogger ate it- so sorry if this is coming to you twice.
In reading your post I was able to recognize trauma in my own birth experience and I want to share that and thank you.
In the weeks and months really after Emilio was born I kept returning to the early hours of his life and feeling immense pain, and guilt, and saddness and angst to go back and change how I'd done some things. I remember that sleepy, pass out feeling, I think I did just pass out a couple of times with people talking to me. But what really stuck out to me and caused me the most grief was a feeling like I'd starved my son. I would tell myself, but he had stores from the womb, colustrum wouldn't have "nourished" him in that way anyway, etc. But I couldn't shake it, I'd return to the moments often and it hurt, a lot.
I processed it though, in the moment with Matt and my Mom and just talking through it and moving further away from it knowing it existed is what helped.
I think I was able to do it this way because I'd learned after my Dad died that you can't escape it, it will come, often uglier than before if you don't address it in the moments. It never goes away, you'll always have to deal with it in one way or another.
So thank you, for helping me recognize the trauma in my own birth experience and also helping me realize that I've processed it. I'm here rooting you on as you continue this journey.