Why did no one tell me how totally completely emotionally unstable you are after giving birth? Or, perhaps rather, after becoming a parent.
For the first six weeks, I cried and cried and cried, and I recall messaging Frede; ‘when can I expect being somewhat emotionally ‘linear’ again?’ It fluctuated so damn much.
ANXIETY for this little being in my care. SIDS (could we please hold off the talk of that for a second or two rather than discussing it right after giving birth? Of course we can’t – it’s very important to inform! But, you know)). What if his heart suddenly stops beating? The world – will there even be one for him? Perhaps I’d just prefer putting him back to where he came from. What if I accidentally squash him? Lose him? What if I slide on the staircase? Note: DON’T think of ‘if Death took something from you, you must give it back.’ My child can never leave me, never grow up. What if he ends up in bad company? What if he meets someone who does drugs? What if he turns into a serial killer? Oh god.
LOVE. Fuck, I love you. You little human being, made and carried by me. ‘Honey, I gotta admit something, I love Eddie a little bit more than you.’ I’ve never loved another human being as much. Your fingers, your hair, your smell. You are mine. I sniff you, kiss you on your mouth, has this need for my body to consume you again, and it escapes my mouth as, ‘I want to eat you.’ And I do. Almost. I feel torn in two, like Platon describes it in Symposium. I already miss my other half, even though you’re lying just there. Already on your way away. I miss you, although you’re right there.
MISSING. But I’m also missing you, my big love. My husband. Everything that there was isn’t there. Not right now. You and I. We have changed. I wonder if we’ll ever be ourselves again? But never as we once were, the two of us, carefree. Never again will we be so all-consumed by each other that no one else can come in. Our door will always be open. From now on, I have to share you with somebody else. You; share me. And right here and now, I simply have no emotions left to spend on you; I’m spending them all on our child. Is that how it starts? Three kids and a divorce. Would I just be able to take our child and disappear and live happily ever after, just him and I? Did I get everything I came for? Does he meet all of my needs? All of my intimacy and love goes to him. He does also look like he needs it more than you do. I miss you.
That was me during the first month.
A small heartache came creeping in and tore at me. On top of the totally magical insanity it is to become a mum, where you’re constantly balancing winning it all with feeling utterly beat; as insanely did it affect our relationship. As high on love and happiness for my baby. As intensely did I experience missing Adam. He and I as boyfriend and girlfriend, as the only two. And I was not at all prepared for feeling like this. And I actually also found it slightly embarrassing. I’d never heard anyone talk of that. Missing someone who is there, when you’ve even been given this immense gift in life. Did any of you experience that? A small pinch in your heart because of a changed world. Missing my boyfriend. The feeling of having a hard time distributing my love equally in the buckets assigned to ‘mum’ and ‘lover.’
Despite having had a shared baby goal for over two years, the transition from two to three felt so sudden – I wasn’t ready. You have time to prepare for the baby’s landing; the contractions, the water that may break. Everything the body tells you to make it clear; ‘it’s now, the baby is coming.’ We focused so intensely over those hours on getting the baby out that we forgot to kiss everything that there was and had been. Kiss the only two farewell before they became three.
I felt a bit wrong. Because isn’t the love supposed to just grow bigger and wilder when two become three? I often hear that. ‘You’re going to experience a gigantic infatuation with your boyfriend when you see him with your child.’ I didn’t feel that in the beginning though – didn’t feel the opposite either. But it was as if my giant infatuation mostly was with my child. Does that make sense? He sucked all love out of me. Hence the small heartache when it comes to Adam – and my own surprise. Wonder if it stays like that? Do we have a limited capacity of love for others? And if one sucks all of it, there may just not be enough left for the others?
It fortunately changed in accordance with my emotions growing increasingly stable, and I’ve now fully recovered from my heartache. The time we had as just the two of us – wonderful. The time we have now; something quite different but pretty fantastic. The contents of the buckets containing ‘mum’ and ‘lover’ have been redistributed, and it is as if an extra feature has entered our relationship. This strong sense of a partnership. We’re really good at this – together. More than I ever dared hoping. We rarely fight. All of this, ‘uttered at night, forgotten at night,’ which I’d heard about is not something we’re working with at all. We are partners.
The relationship has changed irreversibly, and, yes – there sure is a process of coordinating everything, and sometimes we forget to kiss. But rather than lamenting what was, I’m now full-on excited about what’s ahead. As well as the here and now. Time. For holidays together, a sleeping baby and adult time on a terrace in the southern sun. Time for Eddie to sit on his dad’s shoulders and experience the world from there. And then I look forward to when we’ll be able to have pockets of pure us time – even if we won’t just forget that we’re parents. But a dinner out now and then. Perhaps being audacious enough to stay somewhere overnight alone in six months’ time. Always partners, forever parents.