In the time and space that has passed, I have become a mother. There is a lot to be said. But the general crux is, that no one could have prepared me for it. The induction, the labour, the post-labour, the tenacity and permanence of this new life.
My child is a little girl with bright eyes and animated hands. She warbles a lot. Has a quick temper. Doesn’t like being forced to do what she doesn’t want to do.
Sounds a lot like me.
Yesterday was my 34th birthday. It is also the first birthday that I couldn’t give a damn about. Things that usually excited and brought joy to me just didn’t register. The day came and went like a dull lull. My mind was still preoccupied with taking care of the little one. With things that needed to be done. With the invisible clock that ticks in my head and rings every 3 hours.
I haven’t slept more than a 3-hour stretch since I left the hospital. That is one thing no one told me about.
And when I do sleep in the day because someone else is taking care of her – I feel guilty. I feel judged. I feel like I shouldn’t be getting this shut-eye, because something might happen to her. I have this ridiculous, absurd fear that she might suddenly fall very sick or die if I turned my back for a moment.
Am I being too hard on myself? I think that’s what people will tell me when they read this. Take it easy, they will say. Well. I can’t.
I guess this is one of the so-called instincts that come with being a mother. Although I didn’t instantly feel that overpowering overwhelming love for her when she was born – something no one else told me about.
People said it will come naturally. Things will just fall into place. People said that there will be an inextricable bond between me and her – that she will recognise me and love me because I breastfeed her. Well, no. It didn’t work like that. Still hasn’t.
For countless times I’ve thought to write digital letters, and/or posts to her. Telling her how I feel – which are usually tender thoughts and emotions. I haven’t got to it. Mainly because I haven’t had the luxury of time for anything self-indulgent.
The closest are spurts of reading, and occasionally running chores or going out to eat with my husband. I always come back within 3 hours. Need to pump I say. But more so, I have a fear of leaving home. That this semblance of order that I have woven around this new life will crumble and I will risk my child to some unforeseen danger I haven’t anticipated.
It isn’t paranoia. I’m just really ill prepared. Was. Maybe is.