from the blog.

Selfish

Becoming a mother after miscarriage has made me a very selfish person.

When my son was first born, and in the days and weeks that followed, I wanted to be the one to hold him. To snuggle him. To love him. Even when I craved adult interaction and had a desire to show him off to friends and family, a part of me secretly didn’t want any visitors. More visitors meant more people. People other than me, holding my baby. My body, my heart, my everything would literally ache when he was in someone else’s arms. Sure, I had that motherly instinct of wanting to fix it when he cried, but it felt like more. It always felt like more.

So many mothers told me this was normal. “He’s new,” they would say. “It’s the hormones. It’ll wear off and before you know it you’ll be wanting out the door by yourself just for some peace and quiet.”

I was hesitant to believe them. Even on the hardest days during those first few weeks, when I spent more of my waking hours crying because of anxiety or postpartum blues instead of being happy, I  never wanted to be away from him. Even when I was feeling off and distant, and holding him made me sad for whatever stupid reason and I let my husband hold him, I sat nearby. I watched them. I watched him.

But they all said it would change, so I waited. The early months ticked by, and I waited to feel different. To feel any way other than wanting to be with my baby, all the time. And in the first three months of his life, I was away from him for exactly one hour. I enjoyed a nice brunch with my cousin, but not a second went by that I wasn’t bothered by that “left the oven on”-type of feeling.

Returning to work was torture. I cried on my way in every day for a week, and then the Monday of the second week. I struggled to get anything done when I got home because I just wanted to spend time with him. Over time, it got better, and I stopped crying, and coworkers told me things like, “You’ll get used to it and then you’ll love being back at work again,” or, “You’ll appreciate the little things, like peeing with the door closed!” or, “You’ll be grateful to be able to talk with adults.”

But they haven’t always been right. While I’m glad to be back on track with my career doing what I love, and while it is nice to take my time peeing, and while it is a relief to have some mature conversation…the feeling hasn’t gone away. I still would rather be home with my baby. I don’t mind peeing with a tiny audience of one. I can invite people over to my home anytime. I want to work from home.

Everyone—friends and family alike—tells me to get out. Go out. Have a date night. Have some kid-free time. Leave the baby with someone and go enjoy myself.

I don’t want to. I really don’t. I’m not sure how many times in how many different ways I can say this.

Other than work, I’ve been away from him for almost an entire Saturday for my best friend’s wedding, and it was simultaneously one of the best and hardest days I’ve had in a while. I wanted to have fun, kick back and have a few drinks, and I did. But part of me continued to long for home, where I knew my baby was waiting for me. It stained my enjoyment of the day. It made the drive home that much longer. It made the stories I heard of what he’d done that day from my family that much more painful.

Hearing about the things he’s done is probably the worst. One of my biggest fears is that he’ll do something big—roll over, say his first word, start crawling, start walking—when I’m not there. Someone else will have that moment, that “first,” forever. They’ll steal it from me. It makes me angry, sad, anxious, and depressed all at once. I want all the firsts. I want every single one. I don’t want anyone else to have them, not even my mother, despite this being her first grandchild. She had all the firsts with me and my brother. It’s my turn.

In fact, only last week, my son rolled over from front to back. Granted, my husband was the one to witness it, and by some miracle he was taking a video with his iPhone and managed to catch the whole thing as it happened…but still, I wasn’t there. That my husband gets to have the “first time rolling front to back” memory doesn’t sting as much as the thought of someone other than him having it, but it still stings. I’m still jealous of my husband—my husband, of all people. I fear the day my baby has a first with someone other than his daddy. I worry how it’ll make me feel. Missing the roll over sent me into a bit of a funk that I haven’t quite been able to shake yet. What will happen next time?

I’m aware of how these feelings have affected my life. I mean, I’ve barely seen my best friend since my son was born. Work friends complain that I never go out with them after hours. My schedule makes weeknight fun difficult, what with working Monday through Friday and having few hours in the evening to eat and prepare for the next day before going to bed shortly after I put the baby down. But even still, I don’t really make an effort to be social on the weekends. If I do, it’s always with baby in tow. With the exception of maybe the tiny handful of “mom friends” I have, I am positive that most of my friends wish I would come out once in a while.

If I’m being honest, I’m perfectly content staying home and doing housework when my baby naps, and spending time with him when he’s awake. Yes, I’m bothered by the fact that I haven’t seen some people in a while, but I just wish they would come over, come to me…and the baby.

My son is nearly six months old. I’ve heard my mom friends continue to talk about how they couldn’t wait to get out without the baby. I’ve even seen friends in the infertility community grateful for some time to themselves. I wonder if my son just isn’t old enough yet, is too young to pester me to the point of wanting to lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes just to have some time alone. I wonder if it’s perfectly rational that I want to spend all my weekends with him because I spend so much time away during the week.

Is it because I’ve lost two babies, that I cling so tightly to this third and only living child? Is it because I spent my entire pregnancy in fear of losing someone I loved—again—and now that he’s finally here, I won’t let him out of my sight? Is it because there’s not a definite chance that I’ll be able to have a second child that I am obsessed with being around for every single one of his firsts?

Motherhood after miscarriage has made me selfish—of my love and affection, of my time, of my son’s time, of all the things he is to experience and learn.

Yet of all the times I’ve been selfish in my life, I feel bad about this one the least.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. First of all no, you’re not weird for wanting to spend every minute of your spare time with your baby, or not wanting to have ‘baby free time’. I was exactly like you and for the first year and a half of my son’s life I never left him for more than about 3 hours to go to a gig (which happened about 2, maybe 3 times tops). When he was 1 my mother in law kept suggesting he stay at hers overnight ‘to gives us a break’ I kept looking at her like she was mental. He’s now 2 and he’a stayed over at his granny’s ONCE and that was because I had surgery under GA. Like you I just don’t want to leave him and I really don’t understand people who ‘can’t wait to, like you say “Have some kid-free time. Leave the baby with someone and go enjoy myself”. Hell no. I even found breastfeeding was a wonderful excuse to never leave him!
    My son is IVF and I’ve never had a miscarriage but I really don’t think infertility or loss has anything to do with this. My sister, who is perfectly fertile and has never suffered a miscarriage, is worse than me with not wanting to leave her kids. She is a SAHM and just wouldn’t send her kids to nursery even when she got the free nursery time! But it does get easier after a while. I found after the year and a half mark that feeling that you can’t bear the thought of anyone else speding time alone with your child lessens a bit. I’m now actually looking forward to doing adult things like afternoon tea with a friend this week-end while my MiL watches the boy. No doubt I will be missing him like crazy, but I’ll still enjoy being able to drink tea from lovely vintage china without fear that the cup will be ripped out of my hands and dropped to the floor.
    All I can say is enjoy those moments. Try not to feel pressurised into ‘child free’ time, if you don’t want to do it that’s great. Plenty of opportunities for that in the years to come xx

  2. I can relate to so much of this. My daughter is almost a year old, and I still want to spend all my time with her. I miss her fiercely during the day when I’m at work, even though I love my job and feel it’s important for her to interact and form relationships with people who aren’t me. I promised myself I wouldn’t be “that mom” who has to take her kid to every event or she won’t go at all, but the fact is, anything that takes me away from her, I just don’t want to go. Especially during the week, when I only have a couple precious hours with her each day. My husband keeps trying to get me to go on mini holidays with him without her, but I just can’t do it. Like you said, maybe once she’s in her annoying toddler or kid stage, I’ll feel differently, but for now, she’s my entire world and it just feels wrong to be apart from her. I haven’t had as hard a time missing her firsts, because there’s always the first time I see it.

  3. Just tell your babysitters to lie to you about any milestones. Then, when they happen, you can tell them and they’ll be “oh my, he’s never done THAT before.” It’s a working mom survival tip that my Mom passed on to me.

  4. I don’t think you’re being selfish at all. It’s hard to be a working mom of a young child (especially a baby). When I was working full-time, I would never go anywhere after work. I missed E too much, and also, needed to feed her. I wasn’t interested in pumping EXTRA milk so that I could be away from her. When I switched to part-time (she was about 7 months old), I would only meet friends for dinner or something (very occasionally) on days I hadn’t been working. That way, I wouldn’t be gone from her all day.
    It still feels like I left the oven on when I’m away from her! I do get to the point, now, that I want a break and some alone time, but when I get that (even for an hour), I miss her terribly! I have to kiss her before I go to sleep at night because she’s been asleep for a couple of hours and I miss her.
    Maybe I’m selfish too. I’ve only known parenthood after loss as well, so I’m not sure how much of what I feel is normal for most parents or just normal for loss parents. As they grow into toddlerhood though, they begin demanding their independence, and it’s a bittersweet thing. She doesn’t let me hold her like a baby anymore as she’s falling asleep, but she does try to say “I love you” and gives me about a million kisses a day. And it’s heartwarming to see her run to her Grandma with a huge smile on her face or walk off to play with other kids at the park. So it all evens out. 🙂

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