Grief. Most of us associate it with the death of a person. Let me tell you it covers a whole lot more than that. I moved to Houston, TX to be on my own and live my life. I got a nice apartment and had a plan to be whatever I wanted to be. Then as soon as I signed my lease, I felt “different” and finally took a pregnancy test a few days later. Those double lines weren’t enough, I took 3 more basic tests and two of those tests that say “pregnant”. When I found out I was pregnant, it was surprising to me. Despite how logical it was after obviously not being careful, I could not come to grips that I was going to have a baby with a man I didn’t even love, better yet, a man I have only known for a few months. Those dreams of getting married to a man I loved and sharing the experience of having my first child with him were gone. The white picket fence had been blown over in the storm.
Lily came as a result of complications from high blood pressure. I didn’t get the birth experience I planned out in my head. Birth plan out the window. Breastfeeding right out of the womb, didn’t happen. Al natural, yea right. I remember having a mean doctor who fussed the entire time about how I shouldn’t have traveled this late in pregnancy (I went home to San Antonio for the thanksgiving holiday) and forcibly violated me as she check my cervix for the first time, fussing at me about spreading my legs and stop tensing up. I remember hearing a nurse ask the doctor if the should call the NICU as soon as I delivered Lily (she was perfectly fine but who wants that to be the first thing you hear as your child enters the world). Not only had the white picket fence been blown over, it was no where in site at this point.
After spending some time in San Antonio, I had to go back to Houston to return to work after 6 weeks. Instead of living in the big colonial house with my husband, I was alone in Houston without my family or Lily’s father in an overpriced one bedroom apartment. This caused me a lot of pain because of what I thought of what SHOULD be and not what actually was.
So distracted by my grief, I had a emotional disconnect from my daughter when she was first born. It was hard for me to express love towards her. I took care of her and provided a safe environment but I remember leaving her at daycare for the first time and feeling nothing. I argued with her father and worried about what I was going to do on my own. I stressed about being the perfect mother and breastfeeding and making enough milk and making sure she surpassed her milestones… I was so distracted by the technicalities that I forgot to simply enjoy motherhood.
I failed to process the grief of a dream deferred. This caused me to not see the good in everything I experienced about my child’s birth. Things do not go as we plan and when they do not go that way, it’s okay to grieve the loss of what you thought would be, sometimes that the only way to move on and enjoy where you are. I didn’t get married and have a baby but I have a wonderful friend for a lifetime who I had a child with. I didn’t have the birth experience I hoped I would, but I gave birth to a healthy baby. I struggled with motherhood at first but I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. I was alone in Houston but I had an opportunity to move back to San Antonio and now I’m happier than ever.
How do you cope with loss? Whether it is loss of what you thought your life should be, loss of a job, relationship, etc, it is natural to feel anger, guilt, denial, disbelief, yearning, sadness, humiliation. There are important steps you can take to help you process in a healthy way.
Surround yourself with loved ones
Express how you feel (journaling, talking, drawing)
Take care of yourself physically, spiritually, mentally
Accept your life
Hold off on major life changes
Give it some time
Seek outside help when necessary