The Dark Side of Love

I am sorry for the long silence, friends. Last we spoke, my little Hatchling was only 7 weeks old, and he’s now tripled in age. At 21 weeks old (almost 5 months) he’s become a curious little boy who giggles, watches everything, and gives sloppy, full-face, open-mouthed kisses. He’s basically the cutest thing ever and I absolutely love being his mom.

But I’m not going to lie, parenthood hit our family like a ton of bricks. Our feeding issues (he never latched) caused a lot of stress for me, personally, and impacted my marriage as well. I won’t recount the whole sad story here but suffice it to say that we saw endless lactation consultants and doctors and had multiple incorrect diagnoses before it was finally confirmed that Oliver had a tongue tie AND a lip tie, both of which prevented him from latching on and breastfeeding successfully. We had the ties released (with lasers!) which vastly improved his ability to suck and eat from a bottle, but by the time we had the procedures done, it was too late for our nursing relationship. The little guy was too smart, he knew his food came from a bottle and there was no way we could convince him otherwise. So I pumped as much milk for him as I could and cried oceans of tears over this. It is difficult to explain to anybody who is not a mother but breastfeeding was immensely important to me and I definitely grieved the loss.

At the same time, I was dealing with some lingering postpartum complications, including hormone-driven anxiety and depression, as well as trying to get back on the same page with my dear Fiasco. Time has healed most of the postpartum complications, and new parent couples counseling has done wonders for the communication issues that the Fiasco and I were experiencing. I’m telling all this to illustrate that a whole hell of a lot changes after you have a baby, and I think it’s important that it doesn’t get glossed over and buried under the cultural narrative of cute onesies and sweet lullabies. It’s also important (to me, politically) that parenthood remains a choice. Having a baby is an incredible responsibility and it will directly (and permanently) impact your health, your finances, your relationships, and the course of your entire life. It should not be entered into lightly or because a distant politician has ideas about the autonomy of a blob of partially-divided cells.

It’s not just a ‘transformative experience’, as I’ve heard it described. I’d call it obliterative. It takes everything you think you know, and everything you are, and shakes it all down to your foundation. Then it makes you slowly pick up the pieces, rebuilding each bit with new corners and edges where the baby fits in. And through it all, there is intense, spellbinding, all-consuming joy. And pride. And fear. And doubt. And hope. And a deep, dark, breathless love.

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So much love.

Now, finally, it’s also starting to get really fun. Around three or four months old, he started interacting more and it’s wonderful to get some feedback from him. To know that he’s ok, that we’re fulfilling his needs, that he recognizes us and wants to be with us. It’s amazing to watch little pieces of his personality developing. Our boy is a wee bit demanding but also persistent, and has a somewhat low tolerance for frustration. He’s also super smart, pays attention to everything, and he thinks being surprised is the funniest thing. We’ve even developed a couple of ‘private jokes’ of a sort. He gives me a special smile whenever I sing a certain part of his favorite lullaby, and he giggles like a fiend when I say “suck suck suck!” during his suck training exercises.

All of this is to say hello again, I’ve missed you, and here’s some of what has kept me away. It’s also to say I’m here, if you are a new parent and are maybe feeling alone or like you need help. And that it gets easier. I am now back at work again, I have even been knitting a little, and am finally feeling ready to  rebuild a few more lost bits of myself. I hope you’ve all been well.

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11 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Love

  1. Thank you for sharing your very honest feelings about what is a truly life-changing event – for everyone. There’s far too much soft lighting and super mummies in the media these days which doesn’t help anyone struggling with all the day-to-day challenges (and yes most of us did or do struggle) as well as those extra ones thrown at you (like the feeding difficulties). It looks like you’re coming into the light at the end of the tunnel now. I wish you all every happiness going forward.

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  2. Life is definitely never the same after a baby arrives, the fact that they’re all different and there’s no instruction manual does not help at all!
    It can however be amazing as well as scary and frustrating and then amazing again. Even now with a 12 year old and a 13 year old I still get amazing, scary and frustrating, but so much love too.

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  3. I was so worried when I read the title of your post that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong. As it turns out, many things went wrong, but you’ve been working hard to right them again. I’m so sorry for all the pain you’ve had to endure, but at the same time, I’m thankful that you have the experience so you can encourage others (like you have been doing).

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  4. Oh man, I hear you. I hear you and I have been there, my friend. The nursing thing- I nursed Lila no problem, so it never occurred to me that I could have problems with my second! Same as you- James wouldn’t latch, saw all kind of lactation consultants, cried about it all the time and pumped like a madwoman even though everyone around me was saying to just let it go. I also had the worst birth story, and it took months for me to physically recover. It’s hard. So hard. And you are so right, every time I see an anti abortion sign or demonstration, it makes my blood boil- this is hard work, and the joy is only there if you really wanted to be a parent, otherwise it’s all too easy to see how unwanted children are at high risk of being neglected or abused.

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    • Oh how difficult to have unexpected feeding troubles with your second child! I definitely feel you, it’s ridiculously hard. I’m holding out hope that I can nurse my next baby because I really had no idea how hard it could be. I am glad you’re recovered now. ❤

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  5. So, so true. Your world is never the same again after the birth of a baby. But as you also say, there is so much to gain from having a child. Your wee Oliver will enrich your lives in a way that you will never otherwise experience, and he certainly looks like such a character! I have enjoyed seeing your Instagram feed documenting these few weeks. Keep up the good work. You are a fabulous mum, and Fiasco a wonderful dad, and don’t ever forget that.x

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  6. Pingback: WIPWed #124: Actual Knitting Content | Woolen Diversions

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