There has been an overwhelmingly warm and supportive response to yesterday’s post. Thank you all. I’m doing ok, really. Yesterday was a bad day, last night was the worst night since Charly was a newborn, but today isn’t going too badly.
Once I throw all the nasties onto the blog and put it out into the world, something eases inside me. The isolation seems to dissipate near instantly and I’m always then a little startled at the surge of love and concern that comes through as others read it, because often by then it has passed for me. I love the feedback I get, particularly the “I’ve been there” variety. But some of what came back yesterday concerned me; I evidently didn’t emphasize enough that even on the darkest hardest most desperate days: it is worth it!!
I think it is because, for me, it is a given. When I read about how somebody is having a terrible time during their pregnancy or with their baby or their toddler or their teenager, it never occurs to me that they might feel like it wasn’t worth it.
Or maybe it’s because the harder times stay with us longer, and we are more likely to need to reach out or vent or normalise the bad times so we feel less alone; whereas we tend to be in the moment of happiness and at most will share a photo capturing what we feel is the essence of the whole feeling.
Or maybe it’s because I haven’t yet managed to find a way to really express that feeling I get when I just look at Charlotte, or when her face lights up when she sees me or Brett, or when Brett gets her so excited she hops up and down squealing, or when she is asleep in my arms with all her delicious baby smell and softness, or when her arms come out for me to pick her up, or when she is crying and she wants only me, or, or, or… There are endless moments, some that only last a second, but any one of them is enough to destroy all the darkness (think Patronus through Dementor – and yes, I know I’m too old for that, but it is the perfect image).
In my particular case, I can be a miserable exhausted unwashed mess, wallowing in memories of long dinners by a fire or massages in the most tranquil of places; and then I see her, or sometimes just hear her laughing or babbling with Brett in the other room. And there is a warmth that starts in my belly where a second ago there was a hollow, and it just spreads through me until I have to go pick her up and cuddle her and kiss her all over her gorgeous dimpled face.
And those middle of the night wake ups? Not the screaming, crying, teething ones, but the regular every night ones that are slowly wearing away at my sanity? In the moment, I love them; it’s dark and quiet and as I feed her or cuddle her it feels like we are the only two people in the whole world.
The agony of breastfeeding through blisters? Eased by her perfect miniature hand with those pearly teeny fingernails that stroke my chest or my face as she falls asleep.
Fleeting moments that can overcome even the very worst of hopelessness. Every single day holds a few of these moments, even when she is generally miserable and uncomfortable. She is a beautiful warm happy little being at her core and she will have a few minutes scattered amongst the tears and the shouting where she will laugh helplessly at my painted toes or squeak in excitement as she chases after the cats or bury herself against my chest and snuggle when she wakes up or shout “mama” triumphantly out of nowhere as she did yesterday.
I don’t take photos of the tears and the frustration and the sadness, I talk about them here where another mommy might be facing the same situation and doubting herself and feeling completely alone – I blog for me and those mommies.
I take pictures of the perfect moments and I post at least one every day on my Instagram account; and on the bad days I often go right back to day 1 and watch her growing and smiling and laughing. I believe with all my heart that these moments are the ones I will be left with after these early days of difficulty pass; that I will remember her huge soul-stilling smile when I come into a room long after I remember the ache of tiredness I feel today.
Even after a very rough pregnancy, there are days I consider doing it all again. Even now, in the thick of 8 months of little to no sleep, traumatic breastfeeding experiences, Charly’s very difficult early days and now troubles with solids and teething and full blown temper tantrums; there are days I consider doing it all again. If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning; you will truly understand that there is no testament stronger than that as to how worth it it really is.
There is no way for someone to describe to you the way you will feel about your own children. They will upset you, frustrate you, push you, test you and challenge you from the minute they are conceived, but they will also love you, inspire you, drive you, teach you and accept you unlike anyone else ever can. They are literally a part of you.
So yes, it is definitely worth it. It’s worth all of it: from feeling so nauseous and bone tired you think you may die in the first trimester; to feeling enormous and unattractive in the second trimester; to actually being enormous and swollen and nauseous (again) and having no control over your hormones or your own body in the third trimester; to the pain and recovery of childbirth in whatever form it comes; to the endless sleepless nights and screaming and crying (baby’s and yours) ; to the reflux or colic or thrush; to the engorgement and blisters and mastitis; to the colds and flus and vaccines and fevers; to the bodily fluids that at some point WILL end up on you; to the growth spurts and teething and tantrums – that’s as far as I’ve got so far myself; but right up to there, every single thing has been worth it.
To just look at my daughter in all her adorable glory, to see how she idolises her father or how in love with her my friends and family are, to watch her as she develops a personality all of her own, to smell that undefinable baby scent on her hair, to listen to her breathing and her little snore while she sleeps, to feel the welling up of pride as she masters even the simplest of tasks… Another endless list.
Never doubt it for a second. It is worth it.