When I was younger, I would have vehemently insisted, to anyone, that I never wanted children and would never have my own. I grew up in a bad neighbourhood with a caustic home environment. We were sorely impoverished and I was raised poorly for a multitude of different reasons, and I had no reason to believe that I would grow up to be any more successful or qualified than my own parents. I didn’t want to subject my own children to that; I was terrified of being a bad parent, so I dismissed the idea of motherhood altogether.
I told my now-husband that I didn’t want kids early in our relationship (I was probably only 15 at the time), and he laughed at me and told me that I would change my tune as I got older. Being young and naive, his refusal to take me seriously made me mad at the time, and I argued with him about it. We actually had a couple of fights on the matter, and then didn’t discuss it again for another 5 or 6 years, by which point it was becoming apparent to me that he was right. My life wasn’t amazing, but as I got older, found stability, and stopped struggling with my own survival instincts – as I started to realize I could, in fact, provide for myself, that my childhood was the exception (not the rule), and I began to find confidence in my ability to be a better person than they were – I became more receptive to the idea of providing for someone else, too.
When I got pregnant with Brock, I was just beginning to warm up to the idea of being a parent: I wasn’t planning on diving into it just yet. I’ll admit that I was actually extremely upset when I initially found out. There had been so much that I still hoped to accomplish before settling all the way down – I wanted to travel, find a career, buy a home – and I saw those dreams disappearing as the second line faded in. I bawled inconsolably on the floor of my bathroom, much to the confusion of our dogs (and probably our neighbours as well).
I took my husband to dinner that night and broke the news as gently as I could. I will never forget the look on his face. For a couple of seconds I saw gears turning, and he analyzed me as though trying to decide if I was joking with him or not. When he was satisfied that I was being serious, his face lit up in a way it hasn’t since: he was absolutely ecstatic. With his reassurance and enthusiasm, my nerves lessened. I realized that, even if it wasn’t ideal, we could make this work.
I didn’t feel genuine love for our baby until I saw him (still ‘it’ to me at the time) at my NST scan at 13 weeks. He was awake and squirming as the tech pointed his various body parts out to me, and I remember watching his tiny limbs flail in a pseudo-tantrum as the tech prodded at me with the wand. It was, in some odd way, totally endearing, and I immediately felt a connection that I hadn’t yet experienced; I fell hopelessly in love.
As my pregnancy progressed – it was a very average, routine, comfortable pregnancy – I fell more and more in love with my unborn child. However, in reflection, I also find myself regretting many of the things that I took for granted. I’d been praying for a girl, and I felt some (brief) disappointment when I found out that we were expecting a boy. I quickly got over it, but I now resent myself for ever wishing that he was anything except for exactly what he was: I realize now that he was absolutely perfect the way he was. I remember feeling frustration over being tired all the time, not being able to run, gaining weight, suffering through leg cramps, leaking milk – a veritable plethora of stupid things that, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t matter at all. I actually remember crying about my stretchmarks one day, instead of seeing them for the blessing they were: I was creating new life, and the stretchmarks were evidence that he was thriving inside of me. How cool is that?!
I spent so much time and energy being upset about what my son was doing to my body, and fretting over what would happen after his birth, that I don’t feel I spent nearly enough time actually enjoying him. Now that he’s gone and I’ve been forced to look back on my pregnancy as the only time I ever got to spend with my only child, my dear sweet boy, I am so mad at me for being so stupid and selfish. I feel guilty that I didn’t cherish every single second I had with him. I wish I had spent more time savouring every kick, punch, and roll he did in there.
Brock was conceived on Thursday the 23rd of January, and born on Thursday the 23rd of October. I had the pleasure of spending exactly 9 months with him. I wish I had spent more time appreciating those moments we had together. Sometimes, I wonder if I even deserved him at all, and if he’s not here with me today because I didn’t appreciate him the way I should have. I would give anything to go back and be more grateful for the time I had with him.
2014 was an absolute whirlwind for me. It was extremely trying for me in many ways, especially after Brock’s passing. I have learned a lot this year, though.
I’ve learned who my real friends are. It’s now perfectly clear to me who I can count on to always be there for me.
I’ve learned a lot about myself, including that I am far stronger and more resilient than I thought. If I can survive this, I can survive anything.
I’ve learned quite a bit about what I want out of life (and what I don’t). Some things I thought mattered really don’t, and vise versa.
And, as cliche as this may seem, I’ve been aggressively reminded that every second is precious, and you should make the best of every moment.
I’m going to try to resolve to forgive myself for my ‘shortcomings’ in the New Year. I have spent a great deal of time being upset with myself for things that I feel I did wrong in the last year, and blaming myself for things that I could not possibly have changed. Finding peace with myself will be a big step in the direction of recovery, and I have hope that things will start to look up from there.
Bring it on, 2015: I’m ready.