Note: This post started out as a love note to my sweet little boy on his 4th birthday but has become a revelation into what it has been like dealing with mild postpartum depression I didn’t admit to or know I had. That’s the gift that comes from writing about my sh*t and also the curse. I hope that after reading this you can still feel the joy of celebrating my son’s special day with me.
To my darling OLM,
When I first started writing this post I had hoped to revel in the joy you have brought me in the four years we have known each other. But I wanted to be real too. I think it will help me get to the bottom of what is really going with me and how you have helped me. This post has evolved into something I didn’t quite expect. Forgive me.
At 3.28 pm, four years ago I laid eyes on your sweet face for the first time.
I didn’t know it then but my heart was about to be ripped wide open for all to see. No one can prepare a new mom for how they will feel or cope or think when their baby is born.
The only way to know is to do. And I’m afraid I didn’t do a lot of doing for a long time. I was too numb, too overwhelmed and so damn tired to understand the gift you brought just by being here.
I am still tired. But I’m still here too.
I see you now. AND. I see me.
As you grow into the lovely boy I hoped you would be, my heart aches for the times I know I missed. I was overwhelmed by your need for me and so very tired. I did my best but I really couldn’t be there for you in the way I think a mother should.
Maybe I let you down but only time will tell. If you suffer the same issues of abandonment and loss I will know. But maybe all mothers feel this way. All I know is the incredible guilt I felt because It wasn’t me who tended to you most nights. It wasn’t me who jumped up when you cried although I was always awake and pining for you.
Sometimes I think that it is sheer luck that you have become such a wonderful little person. In my darker moments I wondered if I had anything to do with it. I was losing my way, not sure if I was making the right choices, saying the right things, convinced I was damaging you just by being with you. And then I’d catch myself, and fight to convince myself that it wasn’t, that it couldn’t be true. That helped. Your smile. That helped too.
It’s only now that I look back that I realize I must have been suffering postpartum depression. I was utterly spent from a stressful job I had just left when I found out I was pregnant. By then I was so used to feeling numb to it all that I had no idea the impact being a new mom would take on my health.
I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself because, frankly, maybe I’m just remembering it wrong. All I know is that I am still sad about it and still recovering from the stress and pain of being tired for so long.
Maybe sleep deprivation does that to a mama’s sensibility. It’s been so long since I had a good night’s rest that most days I don’t see clearly. I’m sorry for that.
Is love the answer?
I’m not sure what it is, but love feels foreign to me most of the time. It feel fleeting and out of reach but then images flash in my mind of something terrible happening and I feel panicked and scared, desperate to keep you safe. It feels like a weight sitting on my chest, debilitating my efforts to stay afloat and breathe.
I’m not sure why I am telling you this. After all, I cannot say I don’t love you.
I do. I love you with everything in me. But I’m afraid it’s still not enough.
Sometimes I think that if I could just breathe it in, fill my lungs with it, I might discover the truth of what love really feels like.
I hope to understand it all myself one day because you will probably have the same questions for me. You are, after all, learning about how love works from me. I suppose I can just do my best and learn to embrace the heaviness of it because that is all I have right now.
For now I will watch, listen and learn your innate and innocent way of love. Maybe that is the key. The sparkle in your eyes as you greet the morning sun will help me stay focused on it. And the joy you find in the little things will keep me going when I all I want to do is hide.
It’s not up to you to fix this for your mama. Please know this. Just be you and keep shining that light wherever you go. And, as I’m learning to keep my heart wide open I know you will be there egging me on in the most unexpected of ways.
No matter what. I love you forever.
Happy 4th birthday to you, my little love.
Thank you for reading.