I’ve been my own child for decades

I’ve been feeling sad. I’ve been taking care of myself—and thinking about how much time, energy, I’ve expended on taking care of myself my whole life. “I’m so tired of spending so much time on me,” I used to say to DH, when I didn’t know when, or if, we’d have a child. “I’m ready to focus my energy on my child. I’m tired of myself.” In these moments, I would look at my rows of 70+ diaries (been keeping diaries since age 9) and think: Ugh. Next phase, please. I would go to coffee shops with my little laptop and notebooks and books and think: Ugh. I would rather be playing with my kid in the park. I hated going to Brooklyn coffee shops, in these moments, hated being surrounded by people who were either much younger than I was or who were my age and had kids with them, or were my age and alone and looked tired and lonely (or so I imagined). I’d get my hair done, go to my yoga class, do my shopping, with a certain sense of pointlessness. This wasn’t always, just sometimes. But I remember that feeling very well, a feeling of an abundance of energy, love, and focus that I wanted to give to a little person, and instead, I spent it all on myself, and that just felt developmentally wrong. Sometimes it even felt pathological. This isn’t natural for me, I would think. I’m arrested against my will, my nature. Even when I found DH, I had many moments of feeling this way. So much time to ponder myself, my life. My relationship. So much time to hash it all out. So much time to cry. And a deep, deep yearning to be spending that time with my child, instead.

I know, of course, that once I have my little baby in my life that I will have moments of deeply craving time alone, time in coffee shops, time to write in my journal, time to go to yoga, get my hair done. Time to cry. I’m sure I will crave time to nurture myself in the ways that I have for decades now…

How difficult will it be to learn new ways of taking care of myself? Sometimes I wonder if I will get better at it, having a little one around. That his presence will force me to get better at it. His presence will force me to become more efficient at it. His presence will rule out wallowing.

I’m still in this other phase, I realize, even though baby’s there, inside. I’m still able to write in this blog whenever I want, I’m still able to collapse on the couch in tears when I want. I’m not too efficient. Time unspools and I wade around in it lazily whenever I want.

And I cry, and I allow myself to feel that tenderness toward myself. I call it “tenderness.” But I realize that some would just think of it as feeling sorry for myself…

Because the tears, yesterday, felt tender. Felt a little like self-pity. Like both. I knew that if I really wanted to, I could stop. I couldn’t tell if I needed to cry, or if I just wanted to. It was about the miscarriages. It was about the losses I’ve experienced.

I was thinking: I can’t believe that happened to me. 

It’s big. Most people reading this blog, I know you know how big. But I think sometimes I forget. Or I force myself to forget a little, just so I can have a normally functioning life.

But when the truth of it hits me—Wow! I still feel astounded. That was bad. That was hard. That nearly killed me. That nearly took everything from me. That nearly hurt my love relationship irreparably. That hurt some of my family relationships. That hurt my mind, and soul, and body. That happened. That really, actually, truly happened. I had six miscarriages. I tried IVF. I flew to Colorado. I flew to Georgia. I lost my first donor egg pregnancy. I’ve injected many different kinds of medications. I’ve labored for many excruciating hours in my living room, the worst day of my life. I’ve thrown things, broken things, torn things down. I’ve cried on so many, so many, subway cars. In so many, so many, parks. This happened. This happened to me. It really, really did. Yesterday, and right now as I type, I just feel so much sorrow for myself for having had to go through that. I feel so much sorrow for those little lives that tried to be.

I guess I will continue to feel these waves of sorrow throughout my life.

What if a wave of sorrow, of bereavement, hits me when I’m with my little boy? I guess I will figure it out. But I just wonder. Will I hide my tears? Will the tears just not come? Will I, eventually, some year, talk to him about it openly? Or by that time, will the sorrow be a whisper, not something that makes me cry?

Doctor’s appointments. Ack. They still get me. It is so, so, SO much better than it once was. But I still feel “off” the morning of an appointment, and I feel absolutely, utterly exhausted afterward. Because my psychological defenses have been working in overdrive.

My appointment yesterday went great. Everything looks, feels, great. But I had some worries caused by some of the things my OB said at our last appointment, a month ago. She had, not too carefully, mentioned that we wouldn’t want me to “go too long,” and would induce me a little early, because of my history. She had mentioned epidurals in a way that made me think that they were a matter of course for her. But I think she just wasn’t speaking too carefully, and when I talked to her yesterday, all was clarified. We are on the same page. We both want me to go into labor on my own, and will talk induction if I go to 41 weeks. She’s all for drug-free delivery (I will keep an open mind about pain meds, but will try without). She’s all for doulas and birthing balls. She’s the right OB for me.

But I was “off” before the appointment. Even after everything went great, I was blotto-exhausted afterward. I told DH that no matter the appointment, I go into a sort of auto-numb to help me cope with my psychological wonderland. Caused by my history, and my “advanced maternal age” (I do not like that language). I shut down. I get spacey, both before and afterward. There are so many feelings I am trying to avoid. The ultrasounds are always wonderful. But there is this other side to it going on.

I went to prenatal yoga after the appointment, and I felt so nauseous in the beginning that I thought I would have to leave. But I dedicated my practice to feeling better, and eventually, I did. The space just below my heart, the muscles there, are often so jammed up, bunched up, that they burn and get painful twinges. I did cat-cow, and that part of me started to open up. By the end of the class, I felt full release.

My yoga instructor asked if she could speak with me afterward. She told me that she could tell that I was protecting my heart.

“You are curved in, your shoulders forward, protecting your heart,” she said. “That’s why you get so jammed up,” she said, pointing to the place that kills me, “right here.”

She said that she thought I was still holding on to past hurts, that my history was holding me back some. “It’s time for you to open up, to reach new heights, to play!” she said. “When you protect your heart like that, it’s understandable, because you’ve been hurt so much and lost so much. But this pregnancy is different. When you curve in like that, not wanting to let go, clinging, afraid something’s going to happen, you cut off your energy supply to yourself and your baby. You both need to grow right now.”

Everything she was saying was so on point that I felt naked.

She suggested that I do a lot of heart-opening exercises, every day, and just lay back on a prop with my arms spread wide and my chest falling open.

DH picked me up, and during the drive home, I started crying. Because of the sorrow that I know lives in me, no matter how much joy I experience. Because bereavement is a long, hard process, and there’s no way to rush it. Because I have, forevermore, lost my innocence.

And I worry. I worry about my baby. I want him to feel my joy, happiness, love, growth, play. I want to do exactly what my yoga teacher described—reach new heights! Open and reach! I know that I do achieve this often. But it is difficult not to worry about how my history of loss might affect the little guy, in utero and out.

No matter what, I am no longer my own, my only, child. He’s here. I’m transitioning. It’s trickier than simple joy. This is exactly what I’d hoped for—not just the bliss, but the hard parts, too. Growth, I invite you in.

Growth, I invite you in.

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  1. Your yoga teacher sounds amazing!
    It sounds like you’re in a transitional point where you’re trying to glean what you can from those past experiences. I feel similarly these days with regards to my birth experience and subsequent weeks going through my girl’s hospital time, as well as the infertility stuff preceding that. Starting to feel all the feelings I had numbed out while going through it. It’s like numbing out the bad feelings subdues the good ones too. I can relate to that jammed up feeling. Thanks for making me think about this today. Was trying to describe this to my husband a couple days ago and didn’t really have the words. He doesn’t understand how I can’t just move on.

    • Ah, moving on—it’s not a straightforward process. You can move on for months and months, and even still backtrack to unfinished business. We deal with trauma in circlings, I think. We circle away, and back, away, and back….and the more time passes, the bigger the circle gets. But I’m not sure we ever fly off the circle altogether.

      And yes, my yoga teacher is quite the wise woman! I love her.

      It’s always so good to hear from you.

  2. This is a beautiful post. I agree that your yoga teacher is amazing and so intuitive, although I felt like crying myself after what she said and at the thought of all that pain and sorrow knotted up in there, the protection that you have for that heart that’s seen too much. I think it’s perfectly healthy to every once and a while feel that trauma you once had and that haunts you now, because if you ignore it it could well up until there’s an explosion of sorrow. It never goes away, but reflecting on it I would imagine helps let off some of the pressure. And that wonder that “this happened to me” when it feels like some other life, some other horror, someone else’s tragedy. It’s hard to realize the full capacity of what you’ve been through. But, I don’t have any doubts that you will be just a fountain of love for your little guy. That he will feel how very appreciated he is and how much wonder there is that he is here, he is yours, and he has been loved for years and years. I love the phrase, “growth, I invite you in.” You are, I think, just as wise as your yoga teacher! ;)


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