Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dreams, Reality, & the Emotional Collisions

Jaycee loves babies! This is a picture of her holding my newest niece. I have had a love-hate relationship with the idea of babies. That may sound heartless and weird but please keep reading.

After Jaycee was born, I didn't have a typically mothering experience. She was in congestive heart failure. My world revolved around high calorie feedings, medicine, doctors, home health checks, etc. I couldn't nurse her due to a weak suck. I couldn't even produce milk due to stress. I had a paper with signs of worsening heart failure and a phone number to call if I'm concerned that glared at me daily. I learned about post heart surgery care and oxygen tanks. My first year of motherhood was anything but normal.

I had so many emotions going on inside of me during that first year. There are too many to list and explain my reasoning. But I will say being around pregnant women and new moms became very hard for me.

When pregnant women talked about their unborn child, they talked with so much hope. They usually talked of a regular experience and a positive future. There's a big part of me that wants to warn them--"Well, what if things don't go as planned?"  But I never say it. Why should I? Pregnant women deserve to think and feel that way. Statistically speaking, things will probably go well and their baby will be fine. Which leaves me feeling like an outsider....

New babies and moms have been emotionally the hardest thing for me to be around. Over the years, it has gotten easier. In fact, when I first thought about doing this blog entry, I was going to write about how I'm over all these issues. But, being around my new niece has showed me that I am better but not 100% over all the emotions. Having a fairly typically experience with my son did provide me with a new perspective. I had something that I could relate to most people about. There was some "healing" after I had a regular old  pregnancy, delivery, and newborn/infant phase. There was no "diagnosis" talk from a doctor, NICU stay, or worries that he may not survive. It was just typical. Still, there are parts from my experience with Jaycee that were so powerful that they still affect my reactions and emotions today.

Here's some tough scenarios for me. New moms generally mention that they are grateful their baby is healthy. I'm glad their baby is healthy too but it feels like a back handed comment. I guess in a way it's like hearing that no one wants a baby like mine. Similarly, I have been present during awkward prayer requests for pregnancy screening tests that indicate a possible problem. As people prayed for things to be ok, I joined in too but also felt that even in church people don't want a baby like mine. Looking at a newborn is another reminder that things were just different for me. Holding a healthy baby sucking on a pacifier was, at one time, enough to make me cry.

Other times, I will admit that jealousy has been a big emotion I have felt. I am jealous that people can have a baby and go on about their lives. I still haven't been able to work full time since I had Jaycee. I'm fine with that fact now. I love having plenty of time at home and to take care of Jaycee when she's sick. Working full time doesn't even seem like a possibility for me ever. I am also really jealous if new parents can afford a nice house after starting a family. We have a decent house but it was suppose to be our starter one. With so much money going to Jaycee's medical expenses every year, I sometimes get frustrated with our situation.

In seven years, I have grown though. I can now ask questions about people's pregnancy or new baby. Before, I never really pried people for information. I was afraid they would say something that would upset me and I didn't really want to hear about their "perfect" experience. I can hold a baby and appreciate the gift that a parent has been given. I can then leave that new baby & family with my head held high. I have a family too. Maybe it isn't the family that other people dream about and plan for. But, it's the one that I have and love. Jaycee completes our family.

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