My tears were falling off of my face, one by one, soaking through my daughters outfit that I so carefully picked. I placed my thumb in the palm of her fragile hand and waited for that instant clasp of trust. The voice inside my head was responding back to her squeals, but it was no where near comparable to the whispers that I wanted to hear. How could I love someone so much… this little human being that came from me, but feel so hurt by her reactions to my ways of comforting her? Something wasn’t clicking. The connection I thought we had, hours before being discharged from our poorly lit hospital room, was no longer there. My own daughter didn’t know who I was and wanted nothing to do with the love I was so willing to share.
My milk had barely introduced itself and the anxiety had a head start in corrupting my mind. My nipples were cracked and on the verge of bleeding… but I knew that the more I nursed my daughter, the quicker I’d see results. She was speaking to my body through her own suction, letting it know exactly how much milk she needed to get by. Only at this point, we were both frazzled by a process we were equally new to. Discussions were arising and words were cemented into my brain. I was just not providing enough nutrition for my daughter, my newborn baby whom I thought I had already failed. For some reason, my tribe felt no worry in letting me know so. I was hearing “formula chants” and other suggestions that I truly wanted no part of. But each time I thought I was at my breaking point, I kept pushing to not only prove them wrong… but my anxiety wrong too. It was so easy to say that my situation was normal, and that eventually my daughter would settle comfortably into my welcoming arms. But I wasn’t sure how eager I was to wait for this moment… a moment that every new mother wants to feel.
With each latch, I felt a sharp pain. I bit my bottom lip with anger, even though this was a journey I was so strongly dedicated to take. I allowed my daughter to nurse longer than I thought I could handle… hours at a time with no room to breathe, no fresh air to heal my battle wounds. I was so stuck on the thought of becoming a disappointment, even though she wouldn’t realize the severity of the situation. My body was shutting down and I could feel the tension rising. The uninterrupted cries were draining me as a whole – causing me to lose hair, sleep, and the want to do better. I was deteriorating as the seconds passed… but I wouldn’t let anyone care for her but me. Even though I wasn’t giving her my best, I didn’t trust that anyone else would either. It was me and her versus the world, the very cloudy world of motherhood that I wasn’t ready to be the driver of.
Her crib was within clear range at all hours of the day, yet I couldn’t work up enough courage to leave her in there while I regained my energy. I feared the worst at all times. The sleep I had many opportunities to take advantage of was ignored… mainly because I couldn’t keep my eyes closed. My mind was playing back scenarios that (literally) left me crying in the dark of the night, unable to believe that nothing would happen to her if I looked away for just a second. I squeezed my eye lids so tight together, in hopes that they would fasten themselves shut for the duration of her nap. But within seconds I was creating sounds that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – sounds that weren’t even really there. The night was still, but my heart was beating loud enough to disturb her dreams. I was losing the ability to give her everything I could offer, all because I was too nervous to sleep.
My daughter, A, cluster fed her way into the break of dawn. I could feel the bags under my eyes weighing me down to the floor. My bra was unclipped, my clothes smelled like the milk that leaked all over me throughout the night… this was something I couldn’t have prepared for. I waited 9 months to shower my daughter with the love I felt since the day I found out about her. 9 months to finally say that I was a mother to a beautiful babygirl. 9 months of waiting to just feel… empty.
We succeeded through milestones that I worked hard to pass, yet I felt myself becoming less happy and more anxious to watch her every move. I knew I was going to be over-protective, but nobody warned me about the depression that hid behind the shadows. I needed to make a change, one that would allow me to take a shower without an extra set of eyes. But was I willing to take the first step? How dedicated was I to become a better mama to my child? Not only better, but happy…
Making the call wasn’t the hard part, it was trying to explain why I felt alone – why I bulldozed my way into a corner of gloom. The words were at the tip of my tongue, but my mind was scattered into pieces that didn’t fit together.
A puzzle that just didn’t make sense.