I want to write about Baby J’s birth, but thought I would write first about what these first twelve days postpartum have been like, while I am in the thick of it.
I have spent long hours holding Baby J and marveling at the miracle he is. And that he wants to be with me all of the time. Me! Like I know what I am doing. Clearly, I do not, but he trusts me anyway.
To be honest, I expected this part. I knew I would be in love with the baby. I knew his tiny perfection would be overwhelming. What I did not expect, so much, was the sense of loss that would come with having the baby.
I loved being pregnant. Other than the discomfort from carrying a 9 lb baby the last four weeks or so, I had a very easy pregnancy. Also, when I was pregnant, I was a happier, more relaxed, easier version of myself. I don’t know if it was the hormones, or the joy of the pregnancy that we had waited so long for, or something else. But I felt calmer, more relaxed and happy, than any other time I can remember. I was more patient with the kids, more forgiving and loving toward my spouse, and more communicative with my family. I even liked my job, although it was more demanding during my pregnancy than at any other time. I was a better version of myself. I was also rather hoping that the shift would be permanent. It was not.
Now, it seems, I am back to being the person I always was, in all her cranky, short-tempered glory. I don’t like this person. I vastly prefer the pregnant me. But the pregnant me is gone, and this is who I am left with. I feel like I had a little 9 month break from my worst personality traits or something. The difference is so jarring that my wife pulled me aside over the weekend to ask what was wrong, because I was so short tempered and stressed and was taking it out on everyone around me. I don’t know, I told her between sobs. Nothing in particular is wrong. I guess I am just like this again.
I can try not to let it show, but there is a profound difference between trying not to take it out on others that I am a negative and cranky sort of person, and actually not feeling negative and cranky. So that is the first loss.
The second loss is more physical. I feel sort of emptied out, and hollow. I miss having Baby J inside, where he was mine alone. Sometimes I can’t stand for anyone else to be holding him. The other day I tried to nap while my wife had the baby in the other room and I felt like a piece was missing. I did eventually fall asleep, curled into a ball around my empty belly. For a short while, I got to host this tiny guest, and I felt so full up while I was doing that work. From the minute they are born, they are already moving away from us. Anyway, for about 9 months out of my life since adolescence, I loved my body. I loved how it felt and looked and what it could do. I miss that.
So, there it is. I love this baby more than I could ever hope, but having him has left me feeling sort of gutted.