|Posted by Stacy on February 8, 2012 at 2:45 AM|
Becoming a mother was my dream. I wanted to share a connection with my child that I felt wasn't there in my own childhood. I thought that having a child would make me understand motherhood more and that I was going to be the best mother ever because this child would be mine. I swore I would never leave or harm my child and that I would love this child with all my being. I realize it is silly of me to think that having a child would heal these emotional wounds, but I did feel this way. I didn't want a child to share the joy of parenting with my husband; I needed one to fill the void I felt deep inside.
I had these feelings because of my experiences in childhood. I had a pretty decent life, but I always felt that something was missing, a link to something or someone. My parents divorced when I was about two years old. My father gained custody of me while my birth mother, you'll understand that choice of words soon, left to join the armed forces. Yes, you read that right; she left and went away. I only received two things from my birth mother as a child and never met her since that time. I do still have some emotional issues connected to that loss, but as I have grown healing has followed.
When I was 4 going on 5, my father re-married. I was overjoyed! I can't really recall all those feelings, but looking back at the 1970's photos I'm smiling and begging for my mom’s attention. I recall feelings as a child like when I was in trouble I would cry and be angry. I was angry at my birth mother because I felt deep inside she left me to be alone. Then my mom would do something like make chocolate chip cookies or just smile, and I would feel better. I always just wanted her to love me for me. I knew she did, but I couldn't understand how she could when the woman who had given birth to me did not.
The day I discovered I was pregnant with my first child the emotions overwhelmed me. I was happy and scared. I was frightened I would screw up like my birth mother and not love this child. My greatest fear was that I wouldn't love her or him. I felt since I didn't have that natural bonding love a child and mother were to have how would I be able to love my own child. I realize I know this idea sounds so absurd, but that was my belief.
So, instead of really addressing my fears and doubts, I did what I always do when I am stressed. I research until there is no end. I do it over and over and over again until I am in information over load. I researched birthing methods, diapers, breastfeeding, cribs, nutrition, pregnancy, and on and on and on. Then that thought crept back into my head, "You will not be a good mother." I had to do something about this thought because it was scaring the hell out of me.
The best solution I had was to find my birth mother or how I call her, the woman who gave birth to me. I had done some digging into this before. During University, I found some interesting information. I knew I was adopted by my dad's second wife when I was 8. At 21, I found the papers dealing with the case. I had contacted the lawyer who was of no help. So I just dropped it and moved on. What I had discovered that day was her hometown. She had hired a lawyer near her home town and not where my adoption was to take place.
I kept that information in my head for later and now was the time to use it. Keep in mind the internet was just beginning to become more popular and little connections were being made then. I discovered her on classmates.com and then searched for her on the phone directory. I called her. She was elated and crying that I found her. We talked for 2 hours. Now here is the part that stings me. In our conversation, she says she is so sorry, but she just couldn't come around because of my father.
Excuse me??? Did I hear that correctly? Sure enough she said it twice.
After the conversation, I didn't feel the pain for much of her words until a few days later when thought about my pregnancy. I couldn't understand how a mother who birthed her child could say I couldn't do something for you because of your father. I was not happy and only spoke to her a couple more times. I realized then, I was better; that I wasn't going to do this whole motherhood thing wrong. I was determined to do it right.
And how I thought to do this right was to take a natural childbirth class and go medication free for my birth. I wanted my husband there. I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted my family close to me. I wanted the perfect, healthy, happy baby. My feeling was if I did all these things then I would be better than her. I felt if I prepared for this birth, nothing would or could surprise me. Well, I soon found out I was very wrong about that idea.
My daughter decided to grace the world by not coming in the specified 40 weeks. In other words, I was induced. It was awful. I felt like a failure.
So, I wanted to get breastfeeding and nurturing down right. Well, again I felt like a failure. She, Grace, cried non-stop. She would nurse constantly in the early afternoon. I later learned she was a cluster feeder. She was not happy unless I was holding her or had my boob (sorry) in her mouth. I thought, “Man, this mothering thing really sucks.” I felt I could never console her, so my answer was to visit Grandma many times during her first month of her life.
My feelings of inadequacy were dispelled on one such trip. Grace and I went for a little visit to Grandma's. My mom loved seeing her and wanted to hold her and comfort her. This particular night I was doing our normal cluster feeding routine. About the third or fourth time, my mom says, "You just nursed that baby!" Yep, I did. I reminded my mom this routine is what Grace did every night. The next night like clockwork, Grace started her routine of nursing every hour. This time, however, my mom says, "Oh, Stacy M., give that baby to me!" So, I did. I know don't shake your head in disbelief, but if you knew my mom, it's best to just let her do her thing than to argue.
For about 10 minutes, my mom tried everything. She did the Dr. Karp thing, before it was labeled his method, of sssshhh and patting her back. She sang to her and danced. She rocked her. She cried with her. Then my mom looked at me and handed her back. Later that evening, my mom said this to me, "You are doing a great job. You know her so well, and I'm so sorry I did not believe you. Never let anyone tell you that you are not a good mother."
I know I shouldn't let others define me, but at that moment I knew I was doing it right. I knew I was a mother. I knew that my attachment was so strong to her. I knew I had accomplished my goal of being the best mother I could be to MY child and that I could love just like nature intended me to love my child.
Stacy Lewis, B.A. Ed., AAHCC, LE
Childbirth Educator and Lactation Educator