|Photo by Shon Taylor|
The weeks leading up to this big deal of a birthday have been fairly emotional for me.
Recently, while talking with my sisters about my reflections on my entrance into motherhood, I realized how much sadness and grief I still have about it. But not necessarily the grief you might think I mean. Yes, I did grieve when I learned that Cora has Down syndrome. But that grief was swiftly eclipsed by all the medical commotion that happened afterward and happily by my growing and all-consuming love.
I've discovered that the grief that I still hold onto is for all the fear and sadness surrounding those first several weeks: the fear of losing her mingled with sadness at not having been being able to appreciate her infancy without the risk of medical emergencies. As her first birthday draws near, I've been reliving my worst memories: the terror that we wouldn't make it to the hospital in time as she repeatedly turned blue, or watching as the cardiologist reviewed her tests and showed me a drawing of her heart defect. My own heart felt like it had stopped as I asked the doctor whether it could be fixed. I had to ask him to repeat his response, because my heart had decided to start pounding again right when he answered, and in my terror I could have sworn he had told me no.
I think back to that fear, to that moment of not knowing whether my baby would live or die, and all the doubts I'd had when she was born the day before: doubts about my ability to be her parent, to be proud of her, to love her with all my soul and to share her with the world, all of them seemed to vanish.
I guess I still mourn the loss of my imagined introduction to my daughter, sad that I bonded with her through her NICU bassinet and force-fed her through a syringe. Sad that I listened to the nurses who told me that I shouldn't hold her too much if I wanted her to grow enough to come home. I've been coming to terms with the fact that my first experience with the true unconditional and powerful love of a parent was also mingled with those fears and the resentment that I had to prove my ability to care for my child.
Maybe it's time to listen to my sisters and to let myself feel all the emotions that were swept under the rug in my effort to just get by and to take care of my girl. So I'm working on letting myself feel that pain and accepting this as part of who I am as a mother. I'm trying to let myself grieve without guilt, so I can continue to love without restraint. Happily, just acknowledging this is helping work out the kinks. And I imagine that time will continue to fade those scars.