If you were to ask me how I’m doing, my answer would never change. I’d tell you that I’m okay. Problem is, I’d be lying…
It has been two weeks since Sequel’s birth. Fourteen days that feel more like fourteen centuries. A fortnight spent, not learning how to manage my life with two children, but mourning the loss of those precious first days with my daughter. Rather than trying to figure out how to occupy Piggle while changing the eightieth poopy diaper in six hours, I am learning how to attach sat probes and flush IV lines. Instead of changing her clothes, I’m changing bandages. The past couple of weeks haven’t been spent reveling in the miracle of childbirth and getting to know my new baby. They’ve been more like a never-ending episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Instead of inhaling the fresh scent of newborn skin, I’m forced to choke on the chemical fumes of a sterile environment. Hand sanitizer oozes out of my pores, and I am afraid—not of accidentally dropping my child, but of tearing a needle out of her veins or ripping a probe off of her tiny body. Terrified of every beep from her monitors. My eyes are glued to the screen that reassures me she’s still here. I count every beat of her heart, and my tears fall to the rhythm of her chest rising and falling.
I haven’t slept. Not for more than a few hours—when exhaustion has finally taken over. While lost sleep is normal for a new mother, they have their reason laying within arm’s reach. I, however, am roused from what little rest I do manage, not by a small cry in the night, but by a computerized melody on a cell phone. Time to pump. Time to cry. Time to worry. Time to let the incredible guilt wash over me.
The guilt. I can’t begin to tell you how overwhelming it is. How much it weighs me down. More prevalent than even the sadness, it threatens to swallow me whole. Why couldn’t my body just protect her as it should have? Before she was even considered a human being, I had failed her. My one job as her mother is to keep her safe, and I failed. There she lays, in a tiny bed, constantly subjected to the searing pain of needles and various fluids being pumped into her tiny body. I did this to her.
I hurt also for my sweet Piggle. Between my emotional instability, mood swings, and extended absences, he has been through hell and back, and I sense the distance he has put between us. I feel the apprehension. And I understand. He has been my superhero through all of this. The only pillar holding me up. In spite of everything, he has remained as sweet as he’s ever been. This boy has strength beyond his years, and oh, how I wish I could draw on it for myself.
How am I supposed to divide myself equally between the two people I love and need most in this world? How can I justify hurting one to tend to the other? My heart shatters when I leave either of them. Though likely just a projection of my own pain, the look in their eyes when I turn my back is gut-wrenching. How can they understand that this isn’t how I wanted it to be? How do I explain to a two-year old that it’s not forever? How do I tell Sequel that the pain will end soon? How do I show them how sorry I am?
I can’t describe the emotions coursing through me. Words cannot portray the intensity of the roller coaster I am riding. All I want is for it to be over. For the ride to end. I want my family together. I welcome the challenges of raising two children. I look forward to the trials and tribulations of an infant and a toddler under one roof. I am excited to share with Sequel the incredible life Piggle and I have built together. But it’s so hard to look ahead. It seems forever away.
While I’m not in the worst of situations and am not the first mom to have a premature baby, it doesn’t make it any easier. Yes, there are families with a much longer road ahead of them than the one I am traveling, but that doesn’t make my journey pass by any quicker.
So instead of asking me how I am, please, just tell me how I will be. Tell me that this will all be over soon and that I will come out in one piece. Maybe if I hear it enough times, I’ll start to believe it. Until then, I’m not okay.