I love this photo. I love this photo because it captures a moment between my son and myself, a good moment, that completely betrays how I really felt at that time.
Taken just weeks after suffering my second miscarriage in seven months, I was in a horrible state of depression and well on my way towards feeling suicidal. My first miscarriage was devastating, and I was traumatized by the succession of medical mishaps that followed; but sadness turned to optimism when I found myself pregnant again three months later.
Pregnancy is never the same for a woman who has suffered a miscarriage; there is always doubt and fear lurking when a woman, who’s suffered a loss, discovers she is pregnant again. I remember the mix of emotions I experienced, after the pregnancy test confirmed what I had already known: happiness (I could, indeed, get pregnant again!), anticipation (we were going to be expecting another baby!), and apprehension (would this pregnancy stick?).
I remember telling my husband that I wasn’t going to allow myself to get excited, or fully accept this pregnancy, until I hit the 14-week mark. If I have to be completely honest, the depression I was suffering, combined with the apprehension I felt, did not allow me to accept this pregnancy as a truth. Sure, I felt pregnant, but I had felt pregnant before (and had lost the baby).
Sometime during my ninth week I began to bleed; days later, I stocked-up on prenatal vitamins during a buy one, get one free sale, and I lost the baby at home the following day. Oh, the irony. I was alone when it happened, holding my baby in my hand and wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now.
Devastation doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I was in shock, and quickly spiraled to depths so dark it rocked me to the core of my being; the only way to describe how I felt was that my mind was constantly sabotaging and betraying me. I had no energy and spent each day counting down the minutes until my son’s naptimes. Those times, between naps and bedtime, I spent on the couch, alternating between staring into space and crying uncontrollably; those were the most difficult months of my life.
I had spiraled so far down that I was a miserable person to be around; I made life a living hell for my family. My husband worked long hours with a four-hour commute, and he bore the brunt of my abuse. My son; oh, my poor son. Not yet a year-and-a-half old, and definitely not understanding why mommy was crying all of the time, my son was a typical toddler. My throat was often hoarse from yelling, as my toddler wouldn’t follow any directions (as toddlers are wont to do), and I found myself having to fight the urge to slap my son when he didn’t listen. At some point, maybe after the first time I spanked him, while tussling during a diaper change, I realized that things were not okay. I was not okay.
In my grief over my two lost babies, I had forgotten to cherish my son. I dreamed of going to sleep and never waking up; I asked my husband for a divorce, and told him that I understood why women abandoned their families. A constant struggle was taking place in my mind, knowing that it was wrong for me to lash out so quickly, but still wanting to walk away from it all. I questioned my right to be a mother.
Thankfully, my husband wasn’t too afraid to suggest that I get help. After almost three months of medication and talk therapy, I’m feeling better than I can remember; I’m patient, loving, and grateful for my son, and am able to see pregnant women and babies without crying.
Little by little, I’m beginning to believe in my right to be a mother, and am starting to feel as though maybe, just maybe, I might actually be good at it.
Related post: How to Cope With A Miscarriage