Five years ago we welcomed our first baby girl into the world. It was a terrifying experience that left me feeling broken, guilty and depressed. I loved that baby but I questioned everything about myself in the days that followed. I questioned my body, my womanhood and my ability to parent. (which was all brand spanking new)
After the first year or so, which was the beginning of writing this blog, I started to climb out of the depression I was in. (you can read about that here, The First 6 Weeks ) My head was clear and I was feeling more like my old self. We decided to expand our family and planned our VBAC.
After the birth of my second daughter I was ecstatic! But also tired and overwhelmed and I dealt with a bit of the baby blues. Honestly the transition from working part time to full time staying home with 2 kids under 2 (with a horrible tear that took forever to heal) was more difficult that I expected. I didn't have any friends that stayed home with their children and I felt lost. I had done so much emotional work during my pregnancy that I felt amazing and whole again as a person but I was completely caught off guard by the pressure of parenthood. We decided we were done having kids, that it was simply too stressful.
So as life goes, we ended up with a third child. The pregnancy was awful and I spent the first half of it ashamed for being pregnant, sick and just overall down and depressed. I received a lot of negative comments about having a 3rd baby. Mostly threats about how hard life would be with 3. Half way through the pregnancy I worked on my emotions, dug deep, talked it out, and ended up feeling more upbeat and dare I say, excited. The birth was wonderful, painful, and I had a great postpartum recovery. Bonding was a breeze.
As much as I worked on myself during those years, I never dealt with the GUILT. And it occasionally catches me off guard.
Times like tonight when I am rocking my youngest to sleep, I am tired and ready for me time, but I'm also enjoying it. I don't remember "enjoying" it with my first. I "enjoyed" more with my second but it was still a trying time. And then I feel a twinge of guilt. That I wasn't a better parent from that start. I feel like I should have done something differently and handled the depression more aggressively. That I should have found other ways to bond. A lot of "shoulda woulda coulda" going through my head.
Today I let go of that guilt knowing that my 5 year old KNOWS she is loved. And that I did my very best. That I continue to do my very best for my children. I no longer need to hold onto guilt over a situation that I didn't have control over. Every hug, every diaper changed, every bandaid applied, every time I've washed her hair, every art project I've swooned over, every dance party I've attended, every park we've gone to, every joke we've shared, every peanut butter and jelly sandwich I have cut into crazy shapes, every birthday party I've immersed myself in, and every bedtime song sung shows how much love I have for her.
Happy 5th birthday sweet girl. Goodbye momma guilt.