I was hurting. My mind, my body. The inside of my cells felt like they were shriveling up.
I was dirty. Skin cells clumping together, oily hair, and dried blood.
The idea of what my life would look like, after giving birth, shattered. Little pieces of me falling to my hospital bedside. Hot, light and lonely, even with my mother next to me. This baby was depending on me, and I had no fucking idea what I was supposed to do. I had been awake for almost three days. In pain, pain that made my body burn and my legs lift and twinge. I was crawling out of my skin. I just want to sleep, and I don’t want to hear it cry. Leave me alone.
This is not what I was expecting to feel. Emotionally distraught and confused are not emotions that are spoken post birthing experience. I was supposed to be happy and “in love.” But I wasn’t.
Day 1: How am I supposed to love a creature that has made me feel this way? This little face staring at me, sticking his tongue out, licking his lips. Already needing me. Not even giving me a second to breathe. To grasp the event that just took place or the new world that lay flat, wide, and hard in front of me.
I’ve stopped feeling. I can’t fathom the life that lay ahead of me. I can’t let the emotions flood out of me, or I will never make it. I can only allow small, controlled feelings simmer slowly off the lips, “He’s so cute.”
My partner is excited to upload our first Facebook photo of our new baby. But I am not. What do I say? “Hi guys, I feel like shit. Here is my weird looking baby.”
On day 2, post birth, I finally pick up my phone because of the numerous text messages lighting up the room, yelling at me, “MEAGAN, come back to the real world!”
I can’t even swipe right to go into the chat, instead I read them off the notifications screen: Have you POPPED? Is he HERE? I can’t wait to meet him : ) I love you! Where are you?
I throw the phone to the end of the bed and continue breastfeeding.
Why do I feel so betrayed? Like somebody tricked me into having a baby. Like it wasn’t my decision and I didn’t answer my boyfriend, “Yes, I really want to have this child,” when he asked, “Are you really sure, like really, really 100% sure?”
“Yes, I am sure.”
The first time I held my son, I felt high. High with mixed emotions (and a bit of the epidural). High that I created a human being. I grew a person!
But then I lost it. Where did the overwhelming rainbow feeling go? I lie in bed with my 2-day-old son who keeps licking his lips at me. He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t know who I am. He just wants milk.
Here, have your damn milk. My nipples sting.
Day 3 post-birth, my mom tells me to take a shower. She says I will feel better: “You’ll feel refreshed! I’ll watch the baby, don’t worry.”
“He might need more milk!” I respond.
“Go, get in the shower.”
I enter the bathroom and can’t even face the mirror, or worse, look down at my stomach. Who fucking knows what’s happened down there?
I step into the shower, accidentally glance down and wince. I put my elbow and fingers into the water. It feels so new. Almost as if I have never been in a shower before.
I slowly let my head fall back into the waterfall. The hot water hitting my shoulder blades and back muscles, releasing every stress hormone and idea about birth, about life, about my body, about feeling trapped, about my nipples hurting, about my hands swelling, about my confusion about love.
Love is not supposed to hurt. My body starts shaking, and I can’t stand any longer. The catheter bag makes a weird noise as the drops of water fall onto the plastic. I start crying and crying and crying.
But my crying wasn’t saving me. I was letting go.
You wouldn’t have ever thought in that deeply dark moment that over the next few months I would grow to love my son so much I feel as though I have another heart. A newfound love for him, and for people in general. Who would’ve known that you have to fall in love with your own child?
But in that moment, I was letting go of my former self. I am not Meagan anymore. The water washing all of the good and bad times of my former life. I am now Meagan, and I am a mum.