About lost identity, I do not see that as a big issue in my social life. I do not talk about baby all the time. I talked about traveling, food, investment, everything I am interested in.
Oh, yes, I also spoke about everything I was interested in before I had a child ~ but the other people I spoke to while holding my baby, before they had a child, did not recognize me as a person who had other interests. They would make a big effort for a minute or two, and then stop talking to me. I think this is something that happened to people of color in groups that had never met a person of color before ~ being somewhat isolated due to others recognizing us as Way Too Different.
When my second baby was born with Down syndrome, I found the same thing happened in groups of mothers who had never known a baby with DS or his mother before - some did not know how to communicate with a mom whose baby was out of their comfort zone. It could have been devastatingly isolating except that a few moms who I met with my first child hung in there until they saw my son as a baby first instead of the diagnosis. It was such a relief to be able to complain to them about simple new baby stuff like sleepless nights and runny noses, the difficulty finding cute boy baby clothes, and how my daughter was adjusting to sharing the spotlight. It was also fun to share stories about first smiles, darling toes, and waking baby hairstyles. At our early intervention center, it seemed all we talked about was the diagnosis and the next developmental milestone to set as a goal.
It has been over 2 years since I posted the first message. This is like a blog for myself. I can still see the "me" 2 years ago, the desperate and sad woman, who just wanted to give the child away to escape from the burden.
I was fortunate that I met women who felt that same way, when my daughter was born, so I knew when meeting moms whose newborns were diagnosed with Down syndrome might feel that way even without the diagnosis.
I wrote an article, "Thoughts from the Middle of the Night" that described my feelings when my son was a baby, written when he was in kindergarten, and through that met many people who shared their feelings with me about their children with Down syndrome as well as their mainstream sons and daughters as babies. It is such an honor to be told other people's stories.
I think it is really important that mother and daughter needs to be "compatible" in order for the mother to enjoy this process. I truly feel I am lucky that my daughter has grown to be such a fun little girl, who I can already tell she has the personality of understanding, loving and not being stuborn. All of these are the traits that I appreciate and pray for. and She has it all. So I can't help to love her more and more everyday.
I have felt that way with both my daughter and son, so fortunate that we are compatible *and* that they are such wonderful human beings, the best parts of me in them and everything else you would want in a daughter or son.
Except that when we have had conflicts, it is sometimes due to the parts of us that are just alike - sometimes I see things in them I would like to change in myself, or I don't see that we are in conflict because we are attacking an issue the very same way. For easy going people, it sure is hard for any of us to back down.
When I called my folks to get sympathy when she was a teenager, my dad said, "Maybe in 30 years she will call to apologize." My reaction was "THIRTY YEARS?!?" and then, I remembered disagreeing with my parents at that age, and almost said, "But I was entirely justified, you were unreasonable and..." ~ but of course that was what was putting me at my wit's end with my daughter.
So I just said, "Oh. Sorry, if I caused you this pain and suffering." My mom and dad were laughing uncontrollably; my dad said, "If?" and laughed harder. Fortunately I had just read an article that said teenagers' brains are bathed in chemicals and hormones that make them unable to function like an adult brain, so we just have to wait it out.
And in thirty years, who knows? Maybe she will have a daughter and call me about their conflicts. Although I'm sure her first reaction will be, "But I was entirely justified - you were unreasonable."
When my daughter was about 8 years old, she came home from school and explained that we did not have to argue any more, she had learned the difference between 'fact' and 'opinion' and realized that what I said was only my opinion, not a fact I would force her to believe. Our relationship had a beautiful, easy year after that, even though many things she felt were my opinions were actually facts.
I have often thought that confrontations between my daughter and me, or my son and me, are more ... not enjoyable, not satisfying, but somehow more worthwhile ... than getting along with any other individual. Not that I enjoy disagreements, but my children are worth the effort I put in to disagreeing with them, and I learn more about who they are and how they think while we are exchanging disagreeable opinions. Plus the 98% of the time we are in harmony is such a pleasure that I can't describe it.
I have enjoyed reading your journey from that first post to these recent ones, and I am glad you posted them here at the Bellaonline Moms forum where other mothers can find them.
Also because you might not have remembered so clearly the feelings you had when your daughter was a baby, it's good that we can all be reminded by others who are just finding that first message and can reveal those feelings to us.
I wish I were better at expressing myself in fewer words, but talking with friends I met in Mommy and Me classes and moms I've met online has not only comforted me in troubled times, but lifted me far above my own expectations of myself as a mother and as a human being.
Having my first child was a real eye opener. I had always done well in school, and loved UC Berkeley because the academic life was so engaging, so challenging. I was successful in every job I had and several times was promoted before my probationary period was completed.
I thought being a mom would be something else I was good at from the start, and that I would be able to prepare in advance and learn quickly so I could be pretty nearly perfect at it. So far, I learned to be very happy on days I felt barely adequate, and I was so glad we got to start over fresh every morning. Those early months and years teach us more about ourselves than we learn about our children.
I know it is even more difficult for moms with postpartum depression, more than I can imagine. So many women suffer and can't believe that help is available, or even that they deserve help, and that they can come out on the other side, being the moms they hoped they would be. Not perfect, but wonderful.
It's good of you to share your journey with us. You are a gem.
SE of Seattle
Thoughts from the Middle of the Night
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