Trigger warning: birth trauma
I watched my son as he fell asleep in my arms today. In a simple way, it was magical. The way he gazed at me as his eyes started to close melted my heart. He held my finger as dreams began filling his sweet head. Little puffs of breath floated against my chest as he drifted off.
And while I watched, I found myself enamored with this beautiful little soul who now trusts me to be his safe place. It felt like one of those unicorn moments of motherhood.
I cherished the moment as I realized I had experienced very few memories like that in the first part of his life. My postpartum anxiety, depression and PTSD robbed me of them all.
After a hugely traumatic birth experience and hospital stay, my early days of motherhood were filled with grief and rage. My son and I almost died in birth, and in those coming days, weeks, and months after his birth, the darkness that enveloped me made me wish over and over that I had died.
There was no light. There was no joy.
I recall taking hundreds of pictures of him as a newborn hoping that someday I’d actually care. I felt no connection with my son. Or with myself. I was supposed to be a mom now, but what did that even mean?
I was drowning in depression and anxiety. I wanted to escape from what felt like the prison bars of motherhood.
Every time my son cried, I cried too. For every passing day where I couldn’t put him down for even a moment, I felt panic grow in my suffocation.
I felt I was failing as a mom in every way. I knew I needed help. I couldn’t continue on like that.
I started seeing an amazing art therapist twice a week. I began to work through the trauma. I felt supported, and she cheered for me and supported me every step of the way.
I had to face my grief. My rage. I had to accept the work it would take to heal what felt so broken within me.
Slowly, and I do mean very slowly, the haze started to lift.
I’ve had to take motherhood day by day…most times, second by second.
My son will be 10 months on Wednesday, and I’ll be honest, I sometimes feel behind in my healing process. To my own disappointment, there are still dark days.
And yet, today was proof that I am making progress. I was able to see the beauty in that moment. There are now days when I can delight in my son’s giggles and watch in amazement as he grows. Now, no matter how dark the days, the connection I feel with him is unbreakable. It grows stronger by the day. And so do I.
When I became a mom, I thought I’d know what to do. I expected to instantly love my son in the way they talk about in movies. I believed I’d be over the moon with motherhood. It turns out that although my journey would be nothing like that, this broken and worn path I’ve had to take has ended up being even more exceptional and gratifying. Each moment…each milestone is even more meaningful now.
So if you’re somewhere in the middle of this journey, too, know you’re not alone or behind, Mama. You’re exactly where you need to be, and I promise, you’re everything your baby needs, here and now. There is light out there for you, even if you can’t see it right now. Sometimes the best things in life take time. Love. Connection. Motherhood. We’re all works in progress, and perhaps that’s where the magic happens.
–Written by Talia Granzow