I made it through the first day back at work. Four months ago, actually 137 days ago, I left work a swollen person, but I was recognizable to myself.
In the ensuing days between I went through permanent and profound changes. When Veronica came out of me, she had her little fingers spread out (in a way that has become familiar to us now) and she was looking hard at her hands. It’s as if she was thinking “That’s what these are! That’s what they look like! That’s who I am!”
I’ve found myself saying similar things to myself. That’s what this is? That is who I am? This is what it feels like? When Veronica was born into a new life, so was I. It was unfamiliar and terrifying. Also, it was featureless; the landmarks I had learned to use in my life up to then were nowhere to be found and I was completely lost.
I was desperate to find my way from one hour to the next–from one second to the next! I was in so much pain and so exhausted and none of that mattered at ALL because I had a very big 8 pound 10 ounce load of responsibility to carry and it was heavier than the whole world.
As a matter of fact, the world had disappeared and I was afraid I had disappeared along with it. I was ALONE.
But then people reached out to me. I was in deep dark water, but like pings to a submarine in the dark, people reached out to me and gave me reassurance. There were emails and texts and lots of phone calls when I breathlessly told all about what was going on and what I was learning and trying to do. I was trying to say how things were going to be okay, and if I said it enough times I might learn to believe it.
People who loved me listened to me and told me that it would be okay. I was lifted up by a multitude of hands and carried out to when it finally was okay. I was so needy and people gave me what I needed.
A lot of what I learned is to get past what I needed. My daughter needs me and she can’t wait for me to get around to her. I have to get over myself and what I think I need. Even what I really think I really need. Sleep? I need that. But I’ll have to not need it for a while. Food? Going to the bathroom? I need those, but they come second. Because it’s not about me.
It was SO HARD. It was so relentless.
And now, it’s not that it’s over, but I’m at work and I get a break. An 8 hour break where the need relents.
It’s Daddy’s turn now. Mommy is at work.
And I want to tell him all about how to do it right. I’ve spent so much time with her and HE HASN”T. I know how this works and I know what she needs and there was been a PLAN and things are going WELL according to the plan. I have all this hard-earned experience and skill now and he needs to hear it.
Not only hear it but APPRECIATE all I’ve learned and appreciate ME. Because I need to be appreciated.
only…i just learned that it’s not all about me. and it’s not about what i need. i don’t necessarily need what i think i need.
What I need to do is find the answer that is not about me. When Chris tells me “She cried unless I walked around holding her while we listened to the annoying nursery rhyme CD!” I don’t need to say WHAT DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN CENTURIES?!
I don’t need to say “If you just held her in this one way while showing her this particular toy and …and…she would stop crying!”
I need to find the answer that’s not about me.