I Wish There Was Joy

December 3, 2015

Oh…will I ever “get over” my sorrow over my birth experience?  I really doubt it…

My computer is set to randomly display photos from my library every 5 minutes.  Last night before I went to bed, a sweet photo of my baby popped up on the screen.  It was taken when he was just 2 days old.

Looking at that photo naturally made me want to look at others…which made me go through the pics of me holding my baby for the very first time.  You might imagine that I’d be smiling in those pictures.  You’d think I’d appear happy…even elated.

Nope.

Unfortunately, looking at those specific pictures elicits a feeling of deep sadness.  I haven’t posted any pictures on this blog before, but I’m posting a couple here because this photo (and there are several more like it) shows exactly how I felt immediately after my baby’s birth.

IMG_2363

You can see how dazed I was.  Can you see how utterly spent I was?  My facial expression is completely hollow.  It haunts me.

This picture was taken at 7:44 PM and my baby was born at 7:08 PM.  This was the first time I got to hold him.  I remember the moment very well, but my memories– just like my vision at the time– are a little fuzzy.

I was “happy” to hold him, yet I felt so exhausted that I had zero ability to really FEEL any joy whatsoever.  And I specifically recall that my positioning was awkward and I could barely bend my right elbow to hold him in a way that I could even see him very well, because of the IV lines in my arm.  I remember feeling annoyed at that.

Looking back, I wonder why no one elevated the head of my bed to help me.  Yet, at the time I didn’t have the energy to care all that much.

Last night I thought about these moments some more.  And for the first time since the birth I pondered this thought:

Why did no one in the room act at all happy when my baby was born?

I don’t remember anyone saying so much as a CONGRATULATIONS!  Did I lose that memory?  Was there any joy in the room at that time?  I don’t think so.  If there was, then I don’t remember it.  And that makes me sad.

My hospital transfer was unexpected.  The OB that cut me and delivered our baby was someone I’d never met before.  She was professional, but she was there to do her job.  I really do owe her the greatest of thanks, though.  Because of her…IT WAS FINALLY OVER.

My midwife and doula didn’t get to be there for the actual birth (one of them took the above picture, which was almost 1/2 hour later).  My husband was there for the birth, but after such a long, arduous wait he was rightfully focused primarily our baby’s well being.  In fact, he alerted the medical staff to some concerning twitches.  Shortly after I held our baby, he went to the NICU.

If you read the full birth story (you can search for it in this blog), then you also know that my sister and niece were also absent for the birth because I was transported to the hospital by ambulance and they had to travel by car (separate from my husband.)  They didn’t even get to see baby before he was moved to the NICU.

I recall that my sister could only say how very sorry she was that I had to go through such a difficult birth.  After such a trying day, it seemed that literally NONE of us could feel the joy that should have completely filled the room.

The lack of joy is what I grieved for yesterday.  When I look at the photos, all I see is the emptiness.

In an effort to heal from this, I need to make a list of what I wish would have happened…

  • I wish I could have felt joy while I held him.
  • I wish I was smiling in our first picture together.
  • I wish I had a “first family picture” of the 3 of us, smiling.
  • I wish I’d heard (or remembered) “Congratulations!!”
  • I wish someone had helped me get positioned so that I could have comfortably and effectively held my baby.
  • I wish I could have seen him better when I held him for the first time.
  • I wish I’d been emotionally present and not detached.
  • And I wish for so much more…

As I continue to harbor these painful feelings, but as I try to focus on everything’s that positive instead, I transfer my focus to the first times that I DID feel joy following the birth.  Looking at this picture does bring me peace.  It was taken 2 days later, just before we were discharged from the hospital.

IMG_4163 I have other joyful pictures, too.  Of my husband holding baby.  Of the first time my niece held baby.  I have joyful memories that weren’t captured in pictures.

Am I glad that I have those very first pictures of me with baby?  Yes and no.

I am healed?

Still working on it…

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