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.