Saturday, April 2, 2011

He Saved Me

He's Heaven sent, this boy. I had no idea that I was able to have, and even deserved to have, a happy postnatal experience. Because I have never had one.
When Jack was born, I suffered from severe post natal anxiety. Not depression, but anxiety. I was a wreck of nerves, in disbelief that I had full responsibility for this life and somehow had to keep this baby alive. I couldnt fathom the fact that my life had changed forever and this made me incredibly nervous. I couldnt eat or sleep. I sat awake all night watching Jack breathe. I had heart palpitations whenever I crossed the road, sure that a vehicle was going to send me and the stroller flying. I was convinced that Jack would be a victim of SIDS and I wished the first six months away, wanting him to get to the "safe" age. Eventually I fell in step with motherhood, but it was a good two years before it even occurred to me to have another baby. A second baby simply hadnt registered on my richter scale, the idea was as foreign as me not vaccinating (ha!)
So when I had trouble getting pregnant, I felt worried that I would never have another chance at experiencing early motherhood in a positive way. When I was pregnant with Sybella, I ensured I had all strategies in place to enable me to transition into motherhood easily. By now, I recognised my anxiety triggers, had a great psychologist, was in a better financial position. I didnt expect to experience post natal anxiety with the same intensity as I did with Jack. But Sybella died. I was robbed of my chance to make up for that awful post partum period I had with my first baby. My first post partum experience was a mess of anxiety, my second one was a mess of grief and guilt and all that goes with it.
I became convinced I would never be able to enjoy a new baby in the beautiful, Huggies-advertisment way that I had wanted to.

But I did. It started on February 21. I fell in love, immediately, with a bald, fat, screaming male.

I expected to crash and go through the same anxiety as I did in 2006. But it never came. I returned from hospital, on an even keel. I had little bouts of anxiety (what was that mark? Why is he coughing? Is it Whooping Cough? Why is his poo green? Is he anaemic? Is his glucose high enough?) but eventually, I started to tell myself that this boy, this little baby, was sent to us and that he is whole, healthy and strong. Because he is. Didnt I deserve to enjoy him? Didnt I deserve to be a "normal" mother with a new baby, who thinks "nothing bad will happen to me"?
You see, stillbirth and neonatal death ruins a person. It damages you and your confidence. You have absolutely no faith that you will be the one to get the happy ending. You constantly think that if anything terrible can happen, then it will you. If a baby can get Whooping Cough, then it will be mine who does. There simply was no other option. Before Archie was born, the idea of a live birth was foreign and surreal. The natural outcome for me, in my messed up, broken mind, was that most babies are born dead, and you are lucky if you get a live one. What the shit is that about? Certainly not normal.
Eventually, with a lot of work and cognitive thinking, I started to believe that God and the Universe didnt have an agenda, they werent out to smite me and me alone, and maybe...just maybe, I was about to have a beautiful and organic postnatal experience. Archie keeps thriving, he's happy and fat and schmoopy. I have never felt more at peace. I have never felt more content. It is an unsettling feeling! Only because I am not used to it. For once, the world is my oyster. Everything is within reach. I have two beautiful boys and an angel daughter. Archie is a particularly easy baby. He feeds within ten minutes, knows night from day already and...get this...he sleeps! All I have to do is wrap him, stick a dummy in, and he is out to it. Opposite to Jack, who needed rocking for hours.
Finally. I got my happy ending.

I love him. He gave me back everything that had been taken from me in the past. He saved me.

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