I want to be happy for you

It happens all the time.

It happened on Tuesday when I went to the hospital for therapy.

It happened when I was watching The Social.

It happens every time someone announces their pregnancy.

It happens when I spy on my neighbours across the way with their new family of three.

It happens with every person I love who tells me they want to have babies.

It happens All. The. Time.

I feel sad and worried for them. I feel engulfed in feelings of anxiety and fear for them. I want to tell them it’s a decision that is heavier than the fun they had or will have making the baby. That once they make it, they’ll never be able to un-make it. That it will be so hard. And not just hard, but the hardest. I want to say to them that they should run away, stay single, stay a DINK, do anything but become parents, have babies, make a family. ANYTHING.

I don’t of course. I smile and act happy, act excited, act enthused. I sit there and bite my tongue and cheeks and teeth, praying that my experience, my history, my perspective doesn’t come tumbling out of me and scare the crap out of them, especially if they’re announcing they’re expecting (a little late for a change of plans, you know).

But it’s my truth. It’s my experience. It’s what I know. You get pregnant and you’re happy. SO happy. You are a walking miracle. And then you have the baby and it’s awful. Your brain breaks into hundreds of fragments and only the worst parts of yourself rise to the surface. You fight every day to stay in your skin, to get out of bed, to keep tiny bundles of need alive, to not lose yourself, to not break-up your relationship with your partner, your family, your friends, to learn to love your baby, to grow into a mother instead of the monster you’ve become.

You hide because you can’t stand the thought of people seeing through the façade you’re putting on. You run away from home every chance you can because if you spend one more second in your house alone with your infant you’re not sure you’ll survive it. You seek out crowds or stay in your room. You are the extreme of unhappy in what should be the happiest moment of your life. And you have no control over anything, least of all what your brain is doing to you.

I’m not sure if there will ever be a time where I feel genuine happiness for someone when they share their stork-schedule news. I don’t know if I’ll ever get enough distance between me and postpartum depression and mood disorders to be able to conjure up anything but dread for the couple that is leaving the hospital, walking around Wal-Mart like disoriented zombies, or showing off their brand-new baby. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ‘normal’ when it comes to pregnancy or birth announcements.

But let me be clear.

I love my babies. It’s a love that I’ve earned and that for me was hard-won. It’s a love that is complicated and messy, fulfilling and exhausting, absorbing and alienating. It’s a love and experience I wouldn’t change for anything in the world. Ever.

Sophie and me

Sophie and me

I wouldn’t send any of them back or not have babies. It was in the game plan since before I can recall ever making a game plan and there is no other way I would have my life or any other way that I see my life.

Lillian and me

Lillian and me

I would love to have anything other than a mental illness every time I had a baby, but it’s not enough for me to wish all of my babies, my loves, away.

Isaac and me

Isaac and me

And when you do tell me that you’re pregnant, or that you want oodles of babies, or when I see your Facebook announcement that you’ve given birth to a beautiful new member of your family, I will do everything in my power to be happy out loud for you. To recall how I felt in the seconds after we found out about Sophie, Lillian, Charlie, and Isaac, in the seconds after I got to meet them, in the days, weeks, months after I learned to love them. To focus on the moment you are sharing with me, not the moments that might be for you and have been for me. To be present in your happiness, in your joy, in the experience that will change your life forever.

Babies and me

Babies and me

Because I want to be happy for you. I do. And I’m so humbled that you are choosing to share it with me, even though I’m a walking train-wreck PSA of what not to do when you have a baby.

So tell me. And I’ll hug you and pray that your experience is what mine becomes, that your love and health is present from the start and carries through, always.

I promise.

~ Julia

11 thoughts on “I want to be happy for you

  1. Behind my tears is a feeling that I have failed you some how as your mom, I feel helpless that I cannot take this from you… all I can do is love you, be there for you when ever you need me and to tell you that I am so so proud of you and your strength to not give up this fight, to do all that you can do to get through this…. Loving you always Mommy

  2. So beautiful and real. Your strength is empowering and inspirational. I hope every day only gets better. Simply beautiful

  3. You my friend…are much braver and stronger than you know. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise. Many of us have felt as you do, it will start to pass as they grow. You are in a world with infants, toddlers and preschoolers all at the same time. Anyone who says it doesn’t make one go a “little batty” is totally lying! As they get older the needs and demands change, which in turn means that all of a sudden you get time for your needs. The PPD starts to fade away. It becomes a wonderful thing to coexist with our kids and enjoy their personalities and interests. To live with them as members of our family who give us back in spades what we gave to them. You my dear friend have proven these things are possible, by the amazing sister and daughter you already are. You will be able to build the same wonderful love, bonds and sheer joy with your new little family. Anything worth having takes blood, sweat and tears to achieve. Admitting that it’s hard takes strength, not weakness. When I hear of a new arrival, I think to myself, ” welcome aboard the crazy train!” At least now I can do it with a smile. 😉 You’ll get there too. Until then, ride the train and have patience with yourself knowing; the ride will end, you are awesome and I love you. <3<3<3

  4. Pingback: You asked, we answered! | Weather Vane Sisterhood

  5. This resonated with me so profoundly. After giving birth to my daughter Sophia i became a mess. Post partum depression kicked my ass and it all went downhill from there. It got to the point that i tried to commit suicide, a moment i will never forgive myself for, which led me to give up my daughter. 5 years later my daughter is doing well, living with her father. As for me? It took years of therapy and trying to understand who i am, and i still have a fear of motherhood. I am terrified of the prospect of having more children in the future because of how badly i felt that i failed my first child. Reading this gives me hope. Thank you for this, thank you so so much.

  6. Oh, Alex. I want to hug you. Tightly. And tell you that you are so brave. And so strong. And that you didn’t fail your daughter. You’re alive and you got help and you made sure she was safe and had everything she needed. You did that. You made her, you broke, you took care of her, you took care of yourself. You are a warrior. Thank you for reading, for commenting and for sharing back with me. With every story I hear, I feel less and less alone. In the beginning, I thought I was all alone. If ever you do want more babies, you will know what to look for, you’ll know what you need to do to get help, and I have every confidence you’ll fight this ass-holey illness for your babies and for yourself. Thank YOU Alex for this comment. And please remember how awesome you are.

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