“When I was a kid I used to dream of having kids of my own. I used to think of all the things that were done wrong to me and how I could fix them if I had the title mommy.
When I was 17 my older sister had a little girl. She became the light of my life. I was auntie. The one who got to give mom a break, who got to take her to wild waters, and feed her junk food. Of course it was a little more complicated than that. As she grew older we had an unbreakable bond. Or at least I feel like it is. For the longest time and even now sometimes, I felt I had to always be close. To be her example. Things happened and life changed people. I grew up.
I got married, had a little boy of my own almost three years ago now. With these changes, my priorities changed. I put him first, but still felt responsible for my niece. The thing with it for me is, I connect with her so damn easily. I answer her questions and she is so close in my heart. Why do I feel like that is not the case with my son?
I will not lie, when my sister had my nephew almost 7 years ago, she struggled hard with the changes. I judged her fiercely when she said things like I don’t want a baby while she was pregnant. I had never had a kid so I could not understand why she felt that way. When he came and was the cutest chunky butt, she was hit horribly with postpartum depression. I judged her yet again. I think many people do because they have not or will not ever be there. How can someone hate their child? How can they not stand the sound of the laugh or tune out the obvious cry for care and comfort? How could she be so harsh? I resented her for these things.
It wasn’t until I had my son that I realized how hard the struggle was. My son was born 9 weeks early. If I didn’t already feel like I sucked at parenting that sure did it. Why couldn’t I keep him in to make him healthy? Why did my body reject him? His health conditions and struggles were all my fault. I didn’t get to see him after I gave birth. They whisked him away to the NICU. 3 pounds, 3 ounces. So tiny, but his lungs worked! That was a plus. It was a couple hours later that I got to finally go to the NICU. I got to see my baby, but I couldn’t hold him. Man did he look so fragile but not quite human. He had tubes and cords and he was bright red. No muscle, skin and bones.
I assume (and maybe that’s my problem) that after mom’s give birth to healthy babies, aside from being so freaking tired, they cuddle and feed the baby. I was robbed of this loving time. This bonding time. Maybe if I had this, things would have been different. That day I learned about pumping and using a Q Tip and syringes to capture my breast milk, because I could not directly feed my baby I had to do what was necessary to give him the strength he needed. I pumped religiously. I didn’t feel connected though. I knew this what he needed. So like a robot I did it.
I wasn’t able to hold him until 2 weeks after his birth. This was scary and exciting. He was still very tiny, he had lost some weight but was gaining back slowly. I got to do what they deemed was kangaroo care. Naked, chest to chest. It was one of the best days of my life. At this point I had a maternity leave of 8 days. I went back to work because my baby wasn’t at home. I worked night shift so I would work, go to the hospital, go home and do it all over again. I would pump, which was exhausting. I would struggle with watching other women who were pregnant and be jealous they got to take their baby to term. I would be so angry that they would complain about how much they were over being pregnant already. I was wanting so much to have my baby at home and wishing he could have been carried to full term.
8 weeks after giving birth I checked myself into the hospital because of postpartum depression. One of the single hardest things I have ever had to do. I no longer judged my sister for how she reacted when my nephew was a baby. I now understood on some level what it was like to not have any interest. Almost 3 years later and I still struggle. My son is such a lively little boy. He is intelligent and curious. I enjoy watching him learn and grow. I still struggle with connecting though. With caring.
When he was a year and a half, he was climbing on the couch. He was going up on the arm of the couch and could fall. I kept pulling him back by his feet. The third time he did it, I pulled him hard and fast. Unfortunately this resulted in his frenum that connected his top lip to his gums being ripped apart. He was bleeding and crying. My husband stepped in and comforted him. Me, my single thought was, well maybe he shouldn’t have been climbing. I didn’t feel sorry or remorseful. I didn’t feel sad or have ping of guilt because I had just injured my son (accidentally) and caused him to bleed. This is a problem. I recognize this. I don’t know how to fix this.
When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder. Maybe it’s a symptom. Maybe I am not cut out to be a mom. All of these things worry me. He is practically three and sometimes I just wish he would go to his room. Out of sight out of mind.
I always put him first and I keep my feelings and thoughts hidden which I am very aware is unhealthy. I need help. I am not sure if anyone has had these feelings or thoughts that I struggle with. I feel very alone most days.
Please remember that parenting is hard and the most rewarding. We tend to judge each other and secretly wish we could have a life that someone depicts on Instagram. We all struggle. We all have our insecurities. Be there for the struggling mom or dad. Everyday they wake up with a new battle. It takes a village, so be the village.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by J.J. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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