We sold the crib, the travel cot, and the stroller today. It triggered something I thought I had addressed and accepted but clearly I still needed to grieve.
I have never been one to go goo-ey and coo-ey when a newborn is in the room.
There has only been one who, once I got over the fear that I might break her, I couldn’t get enough of holding, engaging with, smiling at, watching her during tummy time, or dozing away in her pack and play. I cheered as I watched her hit her milestones and cried tears of joy the first time she waved to me. I still love to watch videos of her, whether it’s when she was so tiny she’s nothing more than a puffalump on her mother’s knee or when she’s singing her own version of a Christmas carol. This girl has made my heart light up since the very first time I laid eyes on her. Including those newborn days I was luckily enough to share with her.
This little girl is my beautiful, hilarious, spunky little niece. I love her to bits.
I did not get this with my daughter.
When the midwives caught my baby girl and handed her over, I was overcome with emotion and in awe of the miracle of life. I loved her from the very beginning.
But I still felt nothing.
“Make the most of every moment, cherish it, and enjoy it, as they’re only this age once and it will be done before you know it,” a stranger said as I was standing in the baby section of a department store, just barely holding myself together. I knew nothing about how to be a mom. I was convinced that I would kill my baby by shear incompetence if not from some subconscious action in an attempt to stop the dark thoughts from flooding through my head. I was hating motherhood, sure I had made a drastic mistake, and absolutely overwhelmed by the fact that I had no other greater responsibility than to make sure I didn’t fuck this baby up, and worried that I might have already done so.
I blinked back tears and focused on the various maternity tights I found myself in front of as the woman continued talking.
“The first two years are the most important….” I switched off. It was all I could do not to just hand her my baby girl and walk away. Surely she knew better than I did. Based on the streams of “You’re so lucky”, “You must be in heaven”, “Life must seem so wonderful with her around”, “You must be enjoying your time together” I’d been hearing, everyone seemed to know how to do this better than me. I couldn’t understand if everyone else enjoyed it, why couldn’t I? What was wrong with me that I couldn’t adjust to the new role like everyone around me had?
So I waited for it to get better. I played the “fake it till you make it” role to the extreme, parenting by the book, hoping that one day I’d get up and I’d do something just because it felt right. I didn’t feel one iota of mother’s instinct. If I hadn’t had the Baby Whisperer, I would have been in ruins.
Those two years have been and gone. I learned that I had an illness and it wasn’t down to bad mothering. I got help. I took medication. I attended appointments. I wrote. I got better. I continue to heal. I enjoy my daughter’s company sometimes. (Do normal moms enjoy their kids’ company all the time?)
But the fact remains that my daughter isn’t a baby and never will be again. I will never ever get that time back. I hate that I will never hold my little baby girl in my arms and not want to put her down. I won’t know what it feels like to stare at her face for hours and enjoy every minute of it. My chest never filled with pride the first time she rolled over or sat on her own. The only hope I have is that someday I will look at the millions of pictures we have of her baby days and I will cry the tears of joy I should have when those moments happened.
That will forever break my heart.