I was hurting. My mind, my body. The inside of my cells felt like they were shrivelling up.
I was dirty. Skin cells clumped together, oily hair and dried blood.
The idea of what my life would look like now, after giving birth, shattered. Little pieces of me falling to my hospital bed side. Hot, light and lonely, even with my mother next to me. This baby is depending on me and I have no fucking idea what I am supposed to do. I have been awake for almost three days now, I have been 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.
(photo credit: Janko Ferlic, Koper, Slovenia)
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.
(photo credit: Bonnie Kittle, Pittsfield, United States)
I stopped feeling. I couldn’t fathom the life that lay ahead of me. I couldn’t let the emotions flood out of me or I would never make it. I could only allow small, controlled feelings simmer slowly off the lips, “He’s so cute.”
My partner, excited to upload our first Facebook photo of our new baby! I was not. What do I say? “Hi guys, I feel like shit. Here is my weird looking baby.”
On day 2, post birth, I finally picked up my phone because of the numerous text messages lighting up the room, yelling at me, “MEAGAN, come back to the real world!”
(photo credit: thomweerd.com/photography)
I couldn’t even swipe right to go into the chat, instead reading 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,” who 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!
(photo credit: my boyfriend, Antony)
But then I lost it. Where did the overwhelming rainbow feeling go? I lay 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 mum tells me to take a shower. She said I would feel better, “you’ll feel refreshed! I’ll watch the baby, don’t worry.” I respond, “He might need more milk!”
“Go, get in the shower.”
I enter the bathroom and can’t even face looking in the mirror, or worse, looking down at my stomach. Who fucking knows what’s happened down there.
I stepped into the shower, accidentally glanced down and winced. I put my elbow and fingers into the water, it felt so new. Almost as if I had never been in a shower before.
(photo credit: Seth Doyle, @doylee_photography)
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 making a weird noise as the drops of water fell onto the plastic. I start crying and crying and crying.
But my crying was 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 new found 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.