Thursday, August 06, 2009

This is not Valerie's birthday letter

Two weeks ago, Jeremy started his new job. Nine months of unemployment was a long haul, but it is finally over, and he seems to have found a great job that he loves. Unfortunately, he started his new job the same day we were meant to leave on vacation, so Valerie and I took our family vacation without daddy. And can I just say that, for as much as I complain that he doesn't help around the house enough, spending ten days without him was HARD. Valerie is a good baby, but she's active, and it's nice to be able to hand the reins to someone else when you're feeling tired, or want to play a game or have some adult conversation. It also reminds me how blessed Valerie is to have had him home with her for most of the first year of her life.

Somewhere in my mental "to blog" pile is a weekend at my sisters', a fun but very rainy camping trip, and a visit with some friends in Western Massachusetts, Valerie's 12-month birthday letter, and lots of pictures that I can't figure out how to upload until Jeremy gets home tonight.

Frankly, however, I'm not feeling much up to blogging all of those good things right now. I'm feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, between trying to unpack and unwind from an exhausting vacation, and trying to get ready for a big birthday bash this weekend. These past few days have been very emotional for me, too, because I've found myself dwelling on the negative aspects of Valerie's birth. When she was a few weeks old, I remember telling people that all the crap fades into the background once you have your baby home and in your arms. But anniversaries are odd creatures, in that they make you focus on a specific point in your memories, rather than the generalities. "One year ago today, I was just finding out that I had obstetric cholestasis and was going to have to be induced." "One year ago right now, I was puking from the cervadil and feeling like I wouldn't make it through the night." "One year ago right now, they were telling me that they were going to keep my baby in the NICU." "One year ago tonight, I was crying myself to sleep, alone in a hospital room with an empty womb, but no child in my arms."

I suppose it's good on some level to remember those moments, to acknowledge the deep emotions that I felt at the time. But I feel bad to be spending energy on negative feelings in the middle of what should be a joyful time of celebration. I suppose that's the way it works, though, the reason why the Christmas season has the highest rate of depression. It doesn't pay to focus on what you "should" be feeling. Right now, I am feeling tired and sad; that's what is, regardless of "should". So it might take me a few extra days to get around to writing Valerie's birthday letter.


timollie said...

I understand.
In a couple of weeks, Alex will have been out as long as he was in. Thinking about the fact that this will occur has already got me thinking along the same lines as you.
I have made peace on a day-to-day basis with my birth, but its anniversaries will be difficult, I am sure of that.
Hugs to you, dear friend.

Ami said...

Hi there - hope you don't mind a comment from a stranger; I've been lurking for a while after surfing in from my husband's facebook page (Corey Yanofsky). We have a 6-month-old daughter and it's been really nice to read about the adventures of a family a few months ahead of us.

So anyway, what I meant to say: I totally hear you on this. A colleague of mine also said that having a baby completely changed her perspective on birthdays, and I think I see what she means now, even though we've got a ways to go before Rose turns one.

It's true that the negative stuff becomes less important once the baby is in your arms...but still, it's no less true that it was awful, you know? Rose's birth was very difficult, ending in C-section, not at all what I'd been expecting. I wouldn't say I was traumatized by it - even right afterwards, it felt like a positive experience overall, and I was actually astonished at how quickly and easily I recovered. But even now when I read about somebody's drug-free or 2-hour birth it makes me sad and angry all over again; why couldn't that have been me??

Anonymous said...

Maybe we mothers just have so much to absorb and learn and react to in the first year that it takes that long get to the point where we can really process the birth. Embrace your experience, the good and the bad, it's your unique story. And Happy Birthday Valerie!


jd said...

Help is on the way!!!

Emily said...

Having done the birthday thing x4, I can say that it does get easier, but never easy. I think it would be interested to hear from moms who've had the birth experience that they really wanted. Anybody know one of them?