I haven't been 100% honest about everything that's gone on with me emotionally since Brayden was born. I write sporadically about what's been going on in life. And I write little notes to Ryan still around his milestone days. But real, hard, honesty hasn't been on display much here. Not like it used to be. And honestly, it's because it's hard to talk about.
Today is a day designed to promote open dialogue surrounding mental health. A day to say it's okay to talk about these things. And what's more, that you're not alone. I share what I share today so I can stop feeling alone in the feelings. But also to share with other mamas so they know they're not alone.
Caring for a new baby is hard. And I did not do so well with it in the first 2 months. I know I mentioned in passing here a few times that I was struggling "a bit." Or I'd chat with a few select friends and mention that it was hard or I was having "a bit of a hard time sometimes." But I always used language that probably underplayed my real genuine struggles.
Because how do you admit that you're not 100% happy and joyful when you've been given the gift you hoped and prayed for more than anything?
After losing Ryan and then bringing Brayden safely home, I just could not admit that my days were anything less than a blessing. How could I when I knew so many other mamas who'd give anything for the chance I had been given? How could I when I knew the "true despair" in losing a baby?
But in truth, I just simply didn't feel the pure happiness I expected I'd feel once I had Brayden in my arms. I felt lonely with this feeling. A feeling that felt impossible at the time to share.
But the truth is: I should have shared it then. Perhaps I'd have felt less lonely. Maybe I'd have been able to manage more confidently in those earlier days of my motherhood. Instead of feeling such a strong emotional struggle every single day in addition to the regular struggle of parenting a newborn.
I didn't share it then. But I'm sharing it now. Because I think loss mamas especially feel this need to keep quiet about those struggles. We don't want to come across as ungrateful. We don't want to upset other friends struggling to bring home a baby. We don't want our living babies, who we wished so hard for, to ever feel like they brought us anything but joy and peace.
But those unsettled feelings -- the feelings of struggle and confusion, a bit like you're drowning in this new life you've taken on -- are felt by so many mamas. And as with most things, the burden is easiest carried when carried together.
So today, I'll share that although I've come a long way from those earlier days, it's still not all a piece of cake. I definitely have a handle on things more now. And I cut myself more slack now than I ever did. But I still have tough days. And I've had to work to accept that I'm not going to enjoy every single little moment. And that's hard to admit -- because I want to. And I expected to. But life is about managing expectations.
Lately my biggest struggle comes in the late hours. Brayden has recently started sleeping through the night (*touch wood*). But I still tend to wake up to check on him from time to time. And in those late night hours my mind wanders to Ryan. How could it not when the house is quiet and I find myself with nothing but time? I lay in bed and wish so hard that I had more time with him. I try hard to recall the moments we did have, but I'm finding more and more as time passes my memories are becoming blurred. I wish I could go back and hold him a little longer. I wish I had more pictures to help unblur my memories. Every day I get new memories and new moments with Brayden. And I feel so much more sadness than maybe I ever had that I don't get those memories with Ryan. Lately I've felt especially sad and beat up about losing him despite the year or so it's taken me to feel some peace again.
It's hard to feel so sad again after feeling so peaceful for so long.
A real shock to my system.
The truth is, lately the tears come more freely than they have in some time. It's like now that Brayden and I are settling into life together, I'm slammed by Ryan's overwhelming absence. I've spent so long being only able to focus on Brayden that now that there's room in my brain again, my first born is poking around for some attention. Attention I'm too willing to give him. But it's grief. So it's hard.
And that's the honest truth about how I'm feeling. About how it's been to become a mother again after the death of my baby.
It's hard. But I know I'm not alone.