The Baby Blues & Grieving Another Road Not Taken

It’s been just over two weeks since delivering Baby #2, Finnegan, and while I still feel some of the limitations of my c-section recovery, yesterday I felt ready to extend the daily walk a bit. I walked around two city blocks, feeling pain-free other than a slight internal tug in the last stretch. However, my body said otherwise. The bleeding that had all but dissipated resumed for several hours. When I mentioned this to my doctor today, she said it’s my body’s way of telling me I pushed myself too much and need to dial it back down, take more time to recover. It’s difficult for me to accept this time where I can’t be as active or productive as I’m accustomed to being. It’s difficult for me to rely on others and ask for help. It’s difficult for me to sit and give myself permission to really slow down.

It is a time of transition and adjustment and patience. As with my body, so too with my mind. 

This past week I have cried more days than not. I know the baby blues are a very real thing and that the hormones which flooded me in pregnancy are plummeting. I mostly knew what to expect from raising Wes, but I forgot the way constant nursing and holding would reduce me to something akin to a feeding tube, a sleep-deprived machine that feels pressure, obligation, and stress to be smiling and happy and “on”. It feels predictably normal not to feel delighted and bonded with Finn every minute of the day, but I also feel such guilt when I’m annoyed he’s waking from a nap sooner than I’d like or when I don’t want to eat with a baby in my lap (again). And yet it feels like more than that.

All the tears this week feel like a form of grieving, a mourning for a future that no longer exists. I have grieved these what-ifs before–the parallel life that could’ve been if not for one significant life choice. Leaving Sarah Lawrence, leaving London, choosing one man over another, followed by all those years of settling and convincing myself to be happy enough. And then I created a new life with Stephen and Wes, a fresh start with the routines and delights of a life I enjoyed. That life of reading in coffee shops and Tuesday night trivia I have somewhat relinquished to have a baby. 

Now I only have this one path forward of raising our children, drifting between quarter-age and middle-age, trying to coax everything on track with our home, finances, retirement, travel, marriage, and self-growth. It’s a lot to carry in addition to all the time and attention I must now devote to Finn. I ask so much of myself, demand so much from my very imperfect and humbly human self. Like with my body, I need to dial back the expectations and be patient during this adjustment period. There’s obviously no turning back (and when I see his adorable face, I couldn’t imagine it anyway). There is only looking ahead and believing that this path, rather than all the parallel lives I did not choose, is the one that’s meant to be and that will feel right in the end.

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