At 7 weeks old, she felt like a feather. Her soft cries signaled hunger. She quietly drank from her bottle as I tucked her closer. I looked at her small face and tried to remember – what was this like ?
After only but a few minutes, she was passed on to another friend – someone else in awe of our coworker’s new baby. In that short amount of time, I experienced a wave of wanting and nostalgia.
I wanted a do-over.
It’s funny to think that just a year ago, I was that mother. My tiny little infant clinging to me. I held him protectively. People were telling me how fast time flew and that I needed to take in and savor the moments. I smiled – but I couldn’t fathom it.
They didn’t know how many times that I didn’t feel present. They joked and attributed it to sleepless nights and new motherhood. They didn’t understand. I wasn’t there because I wasn’t myself; my ability to “savor the moment” was impaired by Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. I didn’t savor moments – I feared them. I removed myself from them so that I could escape the anxiety and fear.
I was only present enough to care for my son. I didn’t care about savoring anything – I just wanted the painful days to go away, and as fast as possible. Why would I want to keep experiencing those painful days over and over again ?
It’s because of those thoughts that I felt that PPD and PPA stole from us. I know that I was physically there for my son, and that he couldn’t have known that there was something wrong with me. He didn’t want for anything. Yet, I knew in many of those days, I wasn’t present. I never seem to have those sweet mom and baby bonding moments. At least, that’s what my mind was telling me. I didn’t seem to know what it was like to truly enjoy and cherish a newborn child.
Months into recovery, the realization settled in. I saw the smiles in photos and his solo shots. They only told of happy moments. Yet, I don’t remember most of those days. I don’t remember how I got there or what it was like. I saw myself holding a younger version of him – but I can’t remember how it felt. All those days seemed so far and removed. I couldn’t recollect most of the earlier months of his life.
I instantly felt robbed. There were no more tiny baby moments to be had with my son. Those days were far beyond reach.
I wanted so very much to find a way to rewrite those bad memories. I needed some way to jog my memory. I didn’t just want to hold the baby because she was adorable. I wanted to do so in hopes that it would retrigger good memories. I hoped that carrying a newborn would somehow reconnect me to those days; the jumbled feelings and memories in my head would realign and I would remember how happy I was with my own child.
Strange as it sounds, the fact that I only had a few minutes to hold that baby felt wrong. When the lady who handled her to me took her back, I felt sad once again. It was as if again, my attempts to reconnect with my infant son were stolen. I didn’t have a chance to really remember any joy from the time that my son was that small.
I retreated to my desk and pulled out my phone to go through some of my son’s newborn photos. There were many. Different shots on different days. Different outfits. Milestone moments and funny shots. Videos of his tiny former self and the little conversations I had with him. One by one I looked at them. A few tears started to fall.
Clearly, I was there. Some part of me made these memories. I must have felt something more, or I would have not taken the time to do those all things. I hoped that those feelings would come in time. I was there for him, and that’s all that matters.