I've been asking myself this question over the past couple of weeks, not sure how to answer.
Would I give myself words of wisdom, telling myself that it would all be fine?
Would I try to take away my initial thoughts and feelings and experience only the joyous moments?
I've realized that if I had known what I know now, there's not much I would change. It's clear that I still have some feelings to work through. As I've been writing every day this month, my thoughts surrounding Cora's birth and the months leading up to surgery keep bubbling to the surface, some of them painful still.
But I am also learning that even though taking away my initial sadness, disappointment, frustration or fears may make me feel less guilty, or may make me feel like a stronger person or a better mother, I really couldn't and shouldn't take those feelings away. They were things I had to live. They were things I had to learn. And they are part of me.
What I wish I had known was that all of my feelings were okay.
I wish I had known that I didn't have to act like I was so strong and confident all the time. That it was okay to be weak, okay to cry. That it was okay to be afraid as I watched my baby deteriorate before my eyes. That it was okay to love my daughter so completely and at the same time feel conflicted and so inadequate.
I also wish I had known that it was okay to rely on my instinct as a mother. I wish I had known that Cora having Down syndrome, a heart defect and a hospital stay shouldn't have diminished that.
I would tell the nurses that I would not put her in the isolette to "sleep and grow". I'd tell them I was going to hold her while she slept, and that she could grow feeling safe and warm in her mother's arms. I would advocate more for myself as a mother, not only for answers to my medical questions and to get her the care she needed.
|Photo by Shon Taylor|
I would tell myself that strength would come. That even though I didn't feel like the infinitely strong person that my friends somehow saw, that Cora would bring me strength. That loving her was already bringing me more strength than I could imagine. That my role as her mother is what I am meant to be: strong and weak, joyous and sad, confident and afraid.
And that all of it is okay.
|Photo by Shon Taylor|