Mourning & rediscovering you
The concept of life & death is one which has captivated mankind since the beginning of time. Why are we here, where did we come from, where do we go? We spend our lives searching for these answers, and marvelling in the complexities that make up life.
I never linked both of these things together when it comes to having a baby, though. I always thought it was just the former- life. I mean, that's what a baby is, right? The creation of life? It seems though, that the two cannot be separated. Death is a part of having a baby, too.
Okay, so I'm sounding a little morbid, but there's a very raw and real meaning behind what I'm saying. It's actually taken me a few weeks to even recognise it, and it's been gnawing at me for longer than I realised. And that is, with the birth of my baby, a part of me died.
A few days after that pregnancy test came back positive, I felt the first inklings of losing myself. The enormity of realising that my body was about to change, that I was going to have to grow and carry and then birth a whole human, that it would potentially never be the way it was prior to pregnancy, was huge. I panicked, more than once. Pregnancy was a battle of wills, wanting to get to the end, but also wanting to go back. But I thought the final product would be only positive. That's what I had been told by everyone.
It wasn't. The moment my baby was born, the old Felicity was no more. Lifestyle, dreams, life experience, body, purpose. That single entity that I had been for just over 31 years, was suddenly and inexplicably connected to someone else- and not just temporarily. Connected until the day my body departs this earth. My life as one was over. And I was not prepared for that.
It seems this was yet another thing no one warned me about. I don't say that in an accusatory way- perhaps the bliss or stupor of newborn days overshadows or masks this change for some. Perhaps it is my history with domestic violence that has caused me to feel it so strongly, but all I know is, I felt a deep, gaping hole where everything I had known used to be. And it hurt.
I cried to my mum about it, and she told me I needed to take time to mourn. It seemed strange- why would I be mourning? I'd had a baby. Nobody had died. But as I felt into it more, I realised someone had. Me. But I was also still here. So what part of me was gone?
It was the simple things. Being able to stand in a hot shower without worrying that the heat of the water might stimulate the let-down reflex in my breasts, and cause a flood of milk to burst forth. Being able to wear a 'normal' shirt without worrying about how my breasts can be accessed to feed. Being able to wear ANY clothes without being covered in spew or milk- or my own tears. Being able to go to the toilet without either hearing someone screaming for me, or being able to go without feeling like I'm on a time limit. Being able to eat at the times I want to. Being able to sit down on the couch and watch a tv show. Being able to just pop out of the house to run errands without having to cart a human and all of their paraphernalia with me. Being able to just be selfish.
Being a parent, there is no time for selfishness. You need time to be your self, yes, but the selfishness of singledom cannot continue once you have children. Someone else needs you, wholly and solely. And when you spend all of pregnancy focusing on growing a baby, preparing to birth it, buying all the pretty baby things, you don't take time to say goodbye to that part of you. It just disappears the moment baby comes out, and hey presto, you're on the job.
So it has taken me some time to come to terms with no longer being the Felicity I was before. In fact, as I type this, I'm still not completely at ease with the change. I don't know when I will. It's been two months since I was able to sit down on the couch and do nothing, or play The Sims (which I love, and did a lot of while pregnant!), or just go out of the house without thinking twice about it. It's been nearly a year since I last had a glass of wine, or ate whatever I felt like, or whiled away the evening in the bath with a book. I love my daughter, don't get me wrong. That is solid. But I do miss the pre-baby Felicity too.
But as I mourn that loss, I also am beginning to rediscover Felicity. There are elements of her that are coming back, bigger and better. There are elements that have been waiting in the wings for the opportunity to come out to play. Her overall purpose has shifted, her understanding even of the pain of the past has changed. And slowly, slowly, as the cloud of mourning passes, the sunshine of new days ahead begins to shine.
I will never be the Felicity I was before I had a baby. That Felicity is dead and gone. But in her place is a Felicity who has found another piece of the puzzle, who has another life to live for. A life that causes her to stare in wonder and amazement that she gets to share in it (more so when said little life is ASLEEP!). It's okay to feel grief and loss when you have a baby. Life has altered absolutely, and there is no shame in feeling thrown. We are human after all. But as the cocoon of mourning sheds, take note of the butterfly that emerges. The essence is still as before, even if the shell has transformed.