Guilt (n):a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc, whether real or imagined.
To someone who has suffered PPD/PPA, and recovered, guilt plays a huge role. Please do not be confused with guilt and PPD itself, as I feel no guilt in having the disease. My guilt stems from what PPD did to me. PPD made me neglect my daughter. It made me not care for her. It made me ignore her. It made me regret her. It stole time I had from her.
I don't care that she won't remember this time. I don't care that she won't know if I held her every minute I could the first month of her life or not unless I tell her so. What I do care about it, what I do feel guilty about, is robbing myself of the time, the moments, the feelings that I wish I'd had with my first newborn. I will never get a first born again. I blew it. PPD blew it for me.
People find it silly that it means so much to me to be overly involved with my four month old, but what they couldn't possibly understand is the valuable moments I lost with her in the beginning. I know it was only a small sliver of time, six weeks, and it won't make a difference to P, but it makes a difference to me. I can't get that time back with her, but I can certainly make the time I have with her from here on out count. I need these experiences for myself, not just for my daughter.
Tonight we went on a family walk and I talked with Hubs about how great these women from my mom group were and how they weren't like other moms. They were....the cool moms. Not just the cool moms, they were the REAL moms. They didn't sugar coat anything or smile and tell you how wonderful parenthood was, when what they really wanted to do was take a four hour nap, soak in a tub and have a couple shots of tequila. Hubs made a comment that maybe I liked them so much because they didn't let a baby change who they were, like me. I still swear and drink beer and get my nails done and listen to music a little too loud sometimes, but I alter all of these habits when P is around. I explained to Hubs that having a baby shouldn't change you, but it should shift you into a better person, and I think that is exactly what happened. I haven't changed at all, but I do want to do more as a family, with my family, for my family. I want to buy books and educational toys that light up and play songs....I want to make my own baby food so P can be healthy and only use the best laundry detergent because she only deserves the best.
So even though I am a better person and strive to do everything better for P, I still feel guilty. I need to do more with her. I need to read more to her, play more with her, give her more kisses than she probably wants....I need to take her on walks every day and go to the park and bring her shopping with me because we're official gal pals now....I need to ask for her opinion before buying a shirt or toy because what if she doesn't like it? (Yes, I realize she can't speak right now, but trust me, her looks speak enough).
These things are important to me. I need this. Maybe P can't go down the slide at the park or pet the animals at the zoo yet, and she sure as hell doesn't know the difference between me reading her Goodnight Moon or Cosmo, but I do. So let me make up for that small portion of time with my daughter I will never get back. Let me revel in my guilt so that I can shift into the better person I was meant to. Let me have my moments of happiness with her because dear God, I never went to experience those unhappy moments with her again. Just let me feel guilty and do everything irrational to try to make up for it. Let me heal. Let me recover.