I just checked in on a mom’s group I’m in on Facebook. One of the moms was scheduled for induction yesterday and there was no word from her as of late last night. This morning there is the picture of a perfect baby girl swaddled in a hospital blanket with a hat on her head. Sheer perfection.
As I looked I felt this rush of tears. They flooded my head and my eyes, and I had to sit and think what this emotion was.
You see, we are done having children.
I’m 42, my husband is 55. He is still trying to re-establish himself in his career field after being out of work for so long and moving to another state and then back again. I’m trying to start a new career. Our daughter is amazing. We are so blessed.
I don’t want another baby. Besides age and money and the feeling of not missing anything, I hated dealing with a newborn. I love my daughter but it was so hard! Breastfeeding and establishing routines and generally feeling like the whole world was upside down. I’m just not built for that.
I think what I was missing as I looked at that picture was the magic of it all. I loved being pregnant so much. The doctors appointments were awful, the special diet, pricking my finger four times a day, all of that sucked. But the times in between: those little kicks first thing in the morning, feeling her move as I sat reading a book, the special smiles you get from people when they notice you are pregnant. All of that was amazing.
And when she was here, this tiny little person. She was perfect. Her smell, the way her body fit into mine, the sighs in her sleep.
I remember early one morning I was feeding her a bottle. Everyone else was still asleep and it was my hope to put her back in the bassinet in that sweet spot just after her father’s alarm clock went off. She’s sleep for another couple of hours.
She was drowsing, and I pulled her up to my shoulder to burp her. She melted into me, and I remember thinking “remember this remember this remember this remember this” because she was so tiny, and I knew she wouldn’t be that tiny forever. I knew those moments wouldn’t last forever.
I can’t really remember what she felt like then. Sometimes if I concentrate really hard I can feel the ghost of that tiny baby nestled against me, but it’s just that: a ghost, a fleeting memory that may just be my imagination.
Today she is a big, strong two year old with a mind of her own. She is long and skinny, all legs and arms and opinions. It’s all uphill from here.
I guess I just wish I could go back in time and savor those little moments that I swore I would never forget. Not with another baby, with this one.
Tonight before bed I went into Miss P’s room like I always do. We have a monitor but the grainy image before bed isn’t enough.
I like to see what position she is in, make sure limbs aren’t tangled in the bed slats, that her feet are warm. I like to touch her foot, press a kiss from my fingertips to her forehead. I like to run my fingers through her hair as she sighs in her sleep.
“You secretly want to wake her up so you can snuggle her,” my husband accused.
I love it when she puts her skinny arms around my neck and presses her face into my shoulder. I love to feel her body snuggling into mine. She is so confident that she is safe and loved.
She is such a miracle, that I can’t get enough of her. Some days she drives me to tears in frustration, but if I ever ran away from home I’d have to take her with me. I would miss her too much to leave her behind.
She is my precious, lovely miracle.
And part of me wonders about the woman who have birth to me. Did she ever feel this way about me?
Then when I heard that he had committed suicide, it was like someone kicked me directly in the stomach. OH.
I have struggled with a bipolar disorder my whole life. Back when I was diagnosed it was still “manic depression” and the treatment was therapy and some little pink pills that made the highs lower and the lows more manageable.
I was diagnosed because of a suicide attempt.
When you are depressed, when you have been suicidal, any whisper of suicide can be a trigger. Now here was this huge mega star and he had done it: succeeded, crossed over, broken free. When you are suicidal, you see that and you think “Wow, he’s so lucky. He doesn’t have to suffer anymore.” Because when you are depressed, when you are suicidal, sometimes it seems like that is the only way out.
And you start to think things like: Look at him, how adored he is in death. Maybe I could be just as adored, finally. (and that shadow in your brain laughs at you and says “Come on now, no one would even notice if you were gone.”) It’s like someone flips on the switch that makes you wonder if you should try again.
It has been 20 years since my suicide attempt. During my recovery I promised myself that I would NEVER EVER let that happen again. I would never again get that close. I would never again let the darkness consume me. I promised myself I would reach out instead of folding into myself.
In the ensuing 20 years life has been by turns horrible and amazing. Right now, things are going really, really well for me. I look back at that deep, intensely depressed time in my life and I am so thankful I came out the other side. I would have missed out on so many things, but most especially this incredible two year old daughter of mine.
I have heard people say that Robin Williams was a coward, that taking his own life was a cowardly act of selfishness. Suicide is NOT an act of cowardice or selfishness, it is an act of desperation from someone who has fought every day of his life to hang on and just simply cannot do it anymore. Robin Williams was a fighter.
I am, too. I am a fighter. Though I made that promise to myself two decades ago, it doesn’t mean I’ve ever quit fighting. That little voice sometimes tries to convince me that the world would be better off without me. I can’t say things like “I wish I was dead” or “I want to just kill myself” in that offhand way some people do. I don’t wish I was dead. I would not just kill myself. Some days those are easy things to remember, and some days they are really hard.
I won’t do it. I’ll die one day, but if I am lucky I will be incredibly old, surrounded by grandchildren, and I will just slip away in the most unremarkable way.
Until that day, I’m going to keep on fighting.
As the summer continues to rage on here and everywhere, my focus of late has been on the deaths of children in hot cars. It seems that this happens at least every other day, and most of them occur in Florida, where I live.
To wit: this morning I see that a baby died in a hot car in Utah yesterday. Ugh.
I get that people are forgetful. Changes in routine can throw us all of balance. It happens.
But come on! This isn’t like forgetting to brush your teeth (I’m guilty of this), putting your shirt on inside out (also guilty) or leaving the grocery list on the kitchen counter at home (guilty!).
This is a HUMAN BEING. This is is your small, helpless child.
I have left my grocery list on the kitchen counter at home. Took my daughter to an unfamiliar store in an unfamiliar town, walked through the store with her and grabbed things I thought were on that list and when I got home, I carried her into the house (or, at this point, let her walk), went in and realized I forgot the milk. Nobody died, though.
We are all pulled in a million different directions every day, but if you’re leaving your child in the car accidentally then your focus is on the WRONG THINGS.
I know it seems like an easy thing to say, but really, isn’t taking the time to focus on your child, remembering your child more important than just about anything else?
I have tried to be compassionate towards these people. They’ve just lost children, and I cannot imagine anything worse. In my mind there is nothing worse – no judge, no jury could do anything to me that would compare with the punishment of losing the person I love most in the world. My condemnation of these people would mean little or nothing.
But really, all of the tips and tricks on how to not forget your child are just sad and pathetic. FOCUS on your child. Make your child your number one priority, and hot car deaths will become extinct. I guarantee it.