You can't miss your boat. It's yours. It stays docked till you're ready. The only boat you can miss is someone else's. Let them have theirs while you wait for yours. -Glennon Doyle Melton
When I first read that quote I thought okay sure, that makes sense, that's true. I can live by these words. But what I didn't prepare myself for was for how bitter I actually was waiting for my own damn boat. I write a lot about postpartum depression and I am in no way ashamed of my story or what my family went through, but do my readers, do my friends, do my family, really understand how that experience felt?
I struggle to put into words the exact story for two reasons: some of those feelings have since drifted so far from my memory I honestly can't remember certain parts, and because even now, two plus years later, I am still trying to figure it out.
I want to bring you back to a post I wrote called The Pampers Moment in which I describe finally feeling peace with P; holding her, rocking her quietly at night with a light breeze through the living room where we sat as she peacefully slept. That was the moment I fell in love with her. Not mama love, but like that deep, passionate, I-cant-live-without-you, I-will-literally-fight-a-bear-for-you kind of love. That was the exact moment in time I knew I could do this, that she was mine and I was hers, and that this was meant to be. But guys, P was almost 8 months old when I wrote that. So what happened in those first 8 months?
I was not sad. Sadness, fear, hopelessness, anxiety and regret only fully consumed the first 2 months of P's life. So we're still missing 6 months. Are you following me? In those 6 months I felt happiness. I felt complete and fulfillment in everyday duties again, like grocery shopping or going to work and out with friends. I slept well, ate reasonably and exercised. I went through the motions. Deep inside I still struggled with bitterness. I hated watching women on TV or in movies have babies because they were so happy....and don't even get me started on Facebook. Oh Facebook friends, I really was happy for you. I was so happy to see you start a family and be happy yourself, but below that happiness for you was my bitterness.
How is this fair? How was I chosen while everyone else seemed to get off so easy? Why did everyone else get these amazing experiences and I got cheated! So cheated. And it made me so angry and that anger welled inside me and eventually turned into rage. One year ago today I wrote my post on rage: When You Lose the Battle. I had failed my recovery and I had failed my family and myself, and I had let whatever this is win. I am grateful that with time and proper support, that anger finally resolved, but the bitterness was still left. And the bitterness was mostly consumed by the unknown. Because folks, I honestly have no idea. What is it like to hold your newborn baby? Because I could barely hold mine. What is this love you feel for your baby? Because I looked at mine and felt nothing. What do you mean not sleeping at night is all worth it for that bundle of joy? Because I got mad at her when she woke me up. You went places? I didn't leave my house for 2 months unless it was to a doctor or my parents. Oh, you have silly pictures of your adorable new baby and your sleep-deprived self? With the exception of half my face in a hospital photographer's picture the day after she was born, there are approximately zero pictures of myself holding my daughter the first month of her life.
The hardest part about sharing this experience with others is the pity. We Warrior Moms are not looking for pity. No, we are looking for someone to look at us and acknowledge that wow, that shit did suck, and I promise to fight with you so no one else has to feel that. We do not need your validation anymore; we have already climbed the mountain, but won't you join us at the top and help others up? And on the days when our foot slips and it feels as if we're going to tumble back down to the ground, won't you reach out and keep us from falling?
So the bitterness lurks, fueled by the unknown and the shame that P had to wait 8 months for a mommy that would fight wildlife to save her. I know, she won't remember. But there are not enough months left in my lifetime for me to forget and how much I miss my baby.