I am about to tell you something that I couldn’t tell my friends or midwives at the time. I couldn’t even tell my husband, because I was scared if I said it out loud that it would be true.
Before #MissVee was born, I was afraid I wouldn’t love her.
Now that she is here, I feel I can say it out loud. It was a big fear of mine. For those who believe our brains can control our bodies, it could also be why she decided to wait 9 days past her estimated due date to make her appearance.
In terms of big psychological hang-ups, this one was pretty huge.
Last July, an unanticipated pregnancy was confirmed by early ultrasound. Two hours later, I found out that my brother died in a tragic motorcycle collision. My husband and older boys were out of town at camp and on a Scouts canoe trip — unreachable by phone. I was alone with my 4yr old. Frantic with grief, I holed up with my youngest and waited for the rest of my family to come home.
That week prevented me from attaching to my pregnancy.
I didn’t even try.
With my history of recurring pregnancy loss, and this pregnancy following hot on the heels of traumatic miscarriage at 12wks, I didn’t want to try. I steeled myself for another loss and got on with my life. I drove to Nova Scotia with my childhood best friend, her two boys and my three boys (all in one awesome Suburban, I will add) for my brother’s memorial service and to spend some time with my parents.
I woke up every day and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I told my parents I was pregnant — I hadn’t intended to share so soon, I had planned to wait until 20wks.
When bleeding started at 14wks, I prepared for another loss.
A trip to the emergency room at the Valley Regional Hospital and a quick scan diagnosed a subchorionic bleed and a healthy, active fetus. My mother finally got to see one of my babies on ultrasound. I was told that things could go either way — there was nothing to do but wait.
So I waited.
I didn’t hope. I didn’t have any left. When I think back to what I was feeling and how I was processing everything, I wonder if it was a PTSD type of reaction. I locked my feelings down tight.
Every day, I put one foot in front of the other.
To allow myself to feel — to connect — was to open myself to more pain. I had experienced enough in the year prior, with three pregnancy losses and my brother’s death. I knew my limits. I understood my depression and anxiety. I nibbled away at bite size chunks of grief when I felt strong enough.
I spent 9 months waiting for bad news at every ultrasound.
I attached to the idea of one last baby, but I couldn’t reconcile that with the baby growing inside of me. I desperately worried that if everything turned out fine, I would be unable to connect with her when she was born — that I would feel as detached looking at her as I was when I looked at my belly. I prepared my family for the nesting period I would need once she arrived.
There were days when the sight of my belly filled me with rage.
And then she was born.
With her, unlike with any of my others, I felt an intense and immediate wave of recognition. She was mine, I was hers, and we would figure the rest out together. Attachment with my older children grew more slowly.
She was mine, I was hers…
We spend a lot of time as parents culturing attachment with our children — teaching them that we are there when they need us, that we will respond to their cues and love them unconditionally. As they grow, it matures into connection and engagement, but the fundamentals are the same — we want to feel attached, that we belong to each other, that on some most basic level we’ve got each others’ backs. We hope this connection will allow our children to explore their freedom and to eventually leave the nest, secure that they have a place to which to return.
#MissVee and I nested for a month.
Days were spent in bed, gazing at each other. Evenings spent sitting with a sleeping baby on my lap. Once I recovered enough strength, there were hours wearing her in our wraps. I passed so much time smelling her hair and the sweet spot at the back of her neck.
Babies smell like sweat and butter milk, oceans and salt marsh hay.
For the uninitiated, babies smell like sweat and butter milk, oceans and salt marsh hay — they smell like sunshine and hope and promise. There will be no strollers for this girl — I want her up where I can kiss her when the mood strikes and hear her quiet noises while she sleeps. I don’t want to miss any of this loveliness.
This last baby has crashed into my life like a tidal wave.
Her arrival was like a punch to my heart. All my worries were for naught. The depression I thought would descend when she was born never appeared. The connection I thought wouldn’t happen was immediate. The love I feel is immeasurable. She is perfect.
We are perfect.