Sorting it out.

August 15, 2011

I read Bella a story before laying her in her bed last night. She was curled up on my lap and I bent to kiss her in between pages, and for just a moment, I got the smell of baby from her. It sent me into a thousand memories of her from newborn to just walking, and for a moment I couldn’t catch my breath.

She looked up at me curiously, as if to say, “Why, what’s wrong Mama?”

I noticed how big she was. How she used to fit so nicely on my shoulder while nuzzling me and now is a third my size. How she depended on me for everything. How her little face used to show little expression or recognition for so long, and now she knows so much.

My heart ached, my eyes filled with tears, and I wondered, “Maybe this is how people feel when they know they want another baby?”

But I didn’t. I wasn’t even thinking of that.

I wanted her. I wanted Bella to be small again. My heart aches because I missed so much. She was so sick and I was so tired. I feel like the entire first year of her life I spent looking at a movie that I was in, but not in. Not really. And it’s only lately I’ve become aware of all this. How very off I was.

Now that I’m here and fully present, I wish I could have known what she was like as a baby – really known. Remember it better. I would have spent more time simply being with her while she wanted to cuddle. I would have let my family care for her more instead of being so worried and protective. I would have slowed life down and marveled at her babyness.

And 21 months later, I feel angry that I didn’t get that. Because of her reflux that kept me on edge, because Sam drank and that’s all I thought about, because of the lack of sleep for 10 months, because of whatever happened to me that year that I’m still sorting through. Why I became a person I don’t even recognize when I look back on now.

Sam and I went through old pictures yesterday of her and us, and he felt it too. Cheated, and it’s no one’s fault. Maybe ours. The drinking and fighting didn’t help plug us into her very much. He said, “I don’t want another kid, I just want Bella.” And I completely understood what he meant.

All of this leads to me hesitating to want to do it again. I don’t want to feel that way. I don’t want the stress, the anxiety, the heightened sense of turbulence in our home. The distorted way I was, but thought it was normal in the middle of it. I don’t want to do any of it again until I get sorted out what happened the first time around. I think I owe us all that.

So when she hugs me with her chubby little arms, and says, “Mama, plee?” when she wants me to play, I try to be there as often as I can now. And to live in the moment. All while feeling that sense of resentment that I wasn’t able to do this before. It’s silly to feel this way because it’s over and done. No way to change that first year. I guess if we had another baby I could try to remember this and do better.

But it’s not what I want. I want her to be the baby again. I want to rewind and relive it as a whole person, with a healed family. My heart aches because I can’t ever look back on it that way. And that makes me angry and so very sorry.

16 Comments

  • NikkiG

    August 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    This really touched me. It felt way to fast for me. My son is 7. Life was a whirlwind. I worked non-stop, maybe spending an hour together during the week and too exhausted on the weekends (if I wasn’t working) to enjoy it. But overall, I missed the middle. We lost our second son, when our first was 3. sent me into a depression and drinking because it was easier to do that then admit that I was sad. That was four years ago. I am pregnant with our daughter now. I just hope to be able to be able to take it all in this time.

  • Tracy

    August 16, 2011 at 12:03 am

    I hear you! We’ve had so many medical issues with Abby, that only subsided…finally…at the start of the summer. (I may have a post about all of the recent sickness issues on Wednesday on the blog 😉 ) For the longest time, when I would mention baby #2, the hubs would say, “Let’s just get through this one.” I would sigh, and know he was right. But now that things are on the mend, and we have been doing a lot better as a family, we are starting to have that conversation again. You are not alone in this. I so get this. Thanks for sharing it 🙂 I heart you momma.

  • angela

    August 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    I truly hope that you can find some peace with this, because that time is impossible to get back (well, until they invent a time machine like in Back to the Future.)

    I am not trying to marginalize your situation at all, but I think that no matter how different things would have been, you would still miss her babyness and littleness and want to go back and drink it in a little more. They are so precious, and the time speeds by so quickly that I think we all wish we could have it back in a way.

    I don’t know if this came out the right way; I want you to know that I want to hug you about it but also want you to not be so hard on yourself. You did the best you could at the time, and Bella is wonderfully happy and perfect, so you did a great job!

  • Katrina

    August 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    This makes me hurt for you…I am fortunate enough to have not gone through any of that but sometimes I feel like I cheated my daughter out of some of her baby-hood by becoming pregnant so quickly (even if it was not intentional). There are things I wish I could do differently – I think most every parent feels that way.
    I wish I could go back to that baby stage too but just because it went by much too quickly. My daughter was my life-line as my husband was gone so I do have those memories. It just goes by WAY too quickly. It’s still going by too quickly. Treasure the moments that you have now!

  • Sara

    August 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Just here to give hugs. I sometimes feel like I lost a piece of Oliver’s first year, even though ours wasn’t as turbulent as yours, I know I missed some things that I’ll never get back. That’s tough to get past. But I have faith that we will heal! (If Kim says it, it must be true!)

    1. Jess

      August 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      It hurts. I understand and feel it now just looking at how big Ava is already. Take her in and love it. you’re a great mama and she knows it.

  • Laura

    August 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Wow. I really understand. I constantly feel that way too. PPD, Anxiety & colic really got in the way with “enjoying the baby” stage. I too feel I never got the chance. I’m glad I am not alone, but also immensely sad on missing out. Thanks for you honesty and for having the courage to say these words!

    Here’s to moving on & enjoying the time now!!

  • stephanie

    August 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I want to hug you right now…..

    Oh, Diana I could have written this same post to describe my 2004. I had a baby with reflux, I was stuck in a terrible depression and the whole time I was convinced it was everyone elses fault. I look at my now 7 year old and still feel a twinge of guilt. I missed so much of her first year and a half. I didn’t even know her until she was 2. i just went through the motions. That just kills me wh I was scared when I was pregnant with C. I was positive I was destined to be a miserable mom to him. There was times in his first 6 months I thought I was slipping.

    I know that it takes time to sort through it and it’s hard not to feel guilty. but, just try to stay in the moment, focus on who Bella is now. I know what a great friend you are to me which only means you are a great mama!

  • Kristin

    August 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Tears and beyond, Diana; this touched my heart in so many ways.

    Eli is now 18 months old and, though we didn’t go through the same things you and Sam and Bella did, we experienced our own rocky start. I feel like I’m where you are; I just wake up and try to have the best day with Eli, every day. Cupcakes for lunch? You got it. Walk to the park to nap? Done. I would breastfeed him again if he’d latch and promise not to bite haha

    Thank you for your honesty and exposure in sharing this part of your heart; it’s helping others to heal 🙂

    So blessed to have met you! xoxo

  • Jennifer @ Also Known As…the Wife

    August 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    You need a big old hug! I think every parent feels guilt and regret over something in their child’s life. Remember hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s easy to say now what you would have changed in the past but you did the best you could in the moment and that’s all anyone can ever do. Bella is happy and healthy and that’s the most important thing.

  • OurGrowingGarden

    August 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    We had some major health issues the first six months, that with a baby who HATED sleep (me getting 4 hours or less broken sleep every night) led to a very anxious, depressed mama. I want to be pregnant again but I want to be pregnant again with my son. I want him to be a baby again. I want to go back and know that it WOULD all be okay. It happens SO SO quickly, all we can do is quit wasting time with regret and live in the present and love harder than ever before.

  • Christi

    August 15, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I lived this too, the reflux & the drinking..and I morn for what I lost & what I can NEVER get back, but I believe that everything that happens is for a reason, that it is part of God’s plan for our lives, for whatever reason. Some of it I have worked through & some of it I maybe never will. I forgive myself 99% and that may be all I’ll ever have in me..so I try to focus on moving forward.

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  • Misty

    August 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

    This post brings big ‘ol tears to my eyes. I feel so much of the same emotions. My little girl had GERD, and I had postpartum anxiety. The first year of her life was so crazy, and I really don’t want another baby because I’m scared to do it all over again. But I would give anything to go back and make it all better – as you said, to hold her all the time, even when she’d been crying for 2 hours and I was so fed up I would scream.

    I am making it up to her now, and I try to give little A. all the love in the world. I think when Bella is older, you can sit her down and explain how it was for you, for her and for Sam. I think she will understand, and she will tell you “it’s OK Mommy – you did the best you could.”

  • Devan @ Accustomed Chaos

    August 15, 2011 at 11:51 am

    you will all be stronger because of what you went through. Hopefully with some time you will be able to heal from what you lost & we always do better when we know better and you are amazing xxo

  • Kim

    August 15, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I want to wrap my arms around you and tell you that I KNOW. You are inside my head and my heart. I know all of this, for very different reasons, but in the end, it’s all the same. We missed something. And we ache because of it. You will heal. I am. 🙂

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