And they are right. A part of me died the day my daughter was born.
Everything that could go wrong went wrong, proving that a near-perfect pregnancy was too good to be true.
The baby was in no immediate danger. Yet it was as if the medical staff had given up before I did, resigned to the fact that nothing more could be done.
Of course I had anticipated that things wouldn’t go the way I would have liked but I didn’t expect them to veer so sharply off course either.
This was as far off from a natural birth as it could be: Catheters, artificial induction methods, an epidural that took several tries before it could be properly administered topped off by a much-dreaded c-section.
Nobody seemed to care that I am extremely terrified of invasive procedures.
The baby must be born that day, they say, as she’s nearly at 42 weeks, beyond the maximum amount of time other hospitals would have allowed pregnant women to wait.
That day turned out to be the worst day of my life where the only thing tethering me to sanity was deep breathing (thank god for hypnobirthing preparation).
I have never trembled this much — from fear and from the anaesthetic. At one point, on the cusp of breakdown, I had to repeatedly tell myself I was in my little space and nobody could hurt me there.
Maternal love didn’t help me survive this ordeal. Rather, I had no choice but to push forward.
It didn’t help that the midwife on duty sugarcoated her words: you are putting someone else’s life before yours and that would be the most beautiful thing you could have ever done.
Hollow words to someone facing her worst fears.
I wish I could say I was that tired, smiling parent bursting with love when I gave birth. Instead I was in so much pain and fear, I couldn’t feel anything.
Everyone says it would all be worth it once I see the baby. Like a healthy baby is supposed to fix all the problems.
I mustered a smile (because that’s what you are supposed to do) — and felt empty inside.
While I wish motherhood wasn’t tainted for me, the reality is it had started off on the wrong (worst possible) footing. I’m still so scarred by the traumatic labor I haven’t dared look at my scar, half-wishing it would go away if I don’t acknowledge its existence.
Nobody told me motherhood comprises a rollercoaster of emotions.
On good days, I feel like I might have the strength to achieve bigger things, juggling it all like a picture-perfect super mom.
Other days, I feel trapped in my new role as someone else’s mother, with my identity and life snuffed out in a dark room.
I’m not even worrying about whether I could be a good mother. It’s probably the last thing on my mind right now.
Everyone expects new moms to be happy but it’s hard to be overjoyed when I am trapped in a body I now detest and in a routine I can’t get out of.
Surprisingly, I don’t mind diaper changes as much as I thought I would. What gets me more is having to tend to (and feed) a little human at all hours, deprived of the freedom to decide how I would like to spend my time for the foreseeable future.
I’m skeptical of everyone (parents) insisting that motherhood will turn out to be infinitely rewarding in the long run.
Can you blame me when these are the very people who knew but didn’t let on about the flip side of motherhood, well-meaning as they are ?
Embarrassed that I sound like a broken record, I’ve stopped telling friends how miserable I am. Also because there are only so many words of encouragement and positivity people could awkwardly say in response.
Things have definitely improved since the first weeks and I feel better now although it’s nothing compared to other new mothers who seem to have bounced back quickly or are savoring every moment of this new phase of their lives.
As much as I wish I could end this on a cheerier note, I really don’t know how things will go just yet.
My daughter does make me smile but that doesn’t take away the regret and self-doubt. Perhaps one day I might be able to look back at all of this with bittersweet fondness.
For now I need to grieve, distract myself, process it all and make peace. Hopefully, time will give clarity to what has happened and allow me to make better sense of this path I’ve gone down on at the very least.