I’m So Glad My Baby Isn’t a Baby Anymore
I don’t know how many women can relate, but I am so happy that my baby isn’t a baby anymore.
I’ve always felt like I’m hardwired wrong, like some kind of woman-switch didn’t get flipped when I was forming from nothingness into personhood in my own mother’s womb. I still consider this when I think back on my postpartum depression and, sadly, make it about my lack rather than a complex combination of factors that no one could predict (although I wish they could have). Facebook memories popped up of my infant daughter and my stomach churns and turns to knots. It was such a bad time. But I got through it. Still though, will I ever look at pictures of my infant daughter without simultaneously feeling the shiver of what was, and what might have been?
The reality is, I didn’t like having a baby. Not the birth part (but man, did that suck too!), but the baby part. It was awful and thankless and anxiety-ridden and full of sleep-deprived wildness. As my daughter becomes more and more a little person, I grateful every day for this evolution. And I consciously try to forget the time she was an infant.
Even writing that is hard because so many parents revel in the newness of the life that they have created while I just wish the years on my daughter so that I can be okay, more okay, than I once was.
I made a promise to myself that I would never forget how difficult it was at the beginning. I guess I made this promise more for other mothers. I promised them, in my mind, that I would never say, “Just you wait!” for what’s next or, “It doesn’t get any better/easier!” because of how those words tortured me, literally tortured my mind, in the first few months and well into the first year of my daughter’s life. I promised I would never ask for anyone’s birth story or give unsolicited advice. Most of these promises I can keep but I can’t remember exactly how hard it was at the beginning and for that, I have regret.
I know that in order to heal, I can’t be haunted by the memories of the fear I had of nighttime and the sleepless nights and of my daughter herself because I literally didn’t know what I was doing, when I was going to be able to rest my head at night, or whether I had it in me to parent another day. It is less of a haunting now and more of a lingering ache; something that will always be a part of me, but without crippling my will to go on and be her mummy for another day, another year, another rest-of-my-life.
The fact is, mothers deserve better from all of us. They deserve not to have to brave-face everything during the isolating days, weeks, and months (and even years), of new motherhood. It is bullshit that mothers have to make everything look easy. And boy do they. You would never know the tortured existence of a new mother – of any mother – unless you have lived it. And yet, we still forget. We give advice like it’s mandatory, we make comments, we judge, we forget.
Let’s remember. Let’s find the compassion and empathy new mothers need. And let’s stop making them pretend that everything is okay all the time.