I Am a Bad Mom, Chapter 3: Year One

February 2, 2018

Year One.  Now I promise I am not going to write a chapter on every year of my son's life, but year one is a significant one.  Keep reading.

You can always tell the difference between a woman who has just given birth naturally versus a woman who has had a c-section.  Everything was difficult; getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, walking upright, sneezing, showering, everything.  The c-section left me physically broken and my new reality left me emotionally broke.  They released us from the hospital after a week.  My parents picked us up.  They carefully packed us up in their car and off we went, all of us nervous for different reasons.  I was quiet on the ride home, pensive, heavy in thought and emotions.  The few weeks leading to the birth I dreamed I would forget to feed my baby or I would leave him behind in a store or he would be born fully grown.  All of my insecurities would bubble to the surface while I slept and now here he is helpless, vulnerable and needing me for his survival.  Would I measure up?  Could I be a good mother?  Was I up to the task?  When we arrived at my parent's house I was surprised with a beautiful nursery in my old bedroom.  I was grateful my son was being received with such open arms but worried too.

After our conversation in the hospital about my son's father I knew where they stood.  They wanted me to have nothing to do with him.  It wasn't a condition of my new living arrangements but I didn't want to further complicate a difficult situation so I didn't push it too much.  I needed to heal my body and my spirit before I broached that conversation.  I honestly don't know what I would have done without their help those first few weeks, especially my mother.  I knew nothing.  I was afraid to bathe my son and dressing him seemed like a task I did not have the skills or stamina to complete.  My son didn't fit any of his clothes and that would make me cry.  Everything was an exploration in patience, endurance and emotions. A trip to the store, which was the only time I got out of the house for the first three months, took an hour lead time.  Packing everything a newborn needs or might need, especially when you are a new mommy, is exhausting.  I would be ready to finally head out, and when I would pick him up to place him in his carrier, he would throw up his last bottle.  I would burst into tears.  Everyone's focus was rightfully on the baby, but the mommy was in serious distress.  At the time of my hospital discharge,  I was 216 lbs trying to become familiar with a new, unfamiliar post-baby body.  These feelings were compounded with the feelings one feels after being cheated on.  There was no time to process anything, I was on autopilot.

After a few weeks, when I felt physically stronger, I reached out to my son's father.  I missed him and longed for the dream I had of us raising our son together and sharing these moments I was now facing alone.  The sleepless nights, taking turns feeding and changing our son, the three of us falling asleep together.  All of it, I wanted it all.  I wanted a family and what I had was not what I wanted.  After a few phone calls, a few outings together with our son and many, many apologies for cheating I started to soften to his pleas and declarations of being a changed man.  He would say most of what I wanted to hear, but mostly it was a narrative I concocted in my own mind of who I wanted him to be. This part always makes the "18 years older Erica" cringe, but I remind myself to be kind to "20 year old Erica" and her decisions.  She was just a girl who had become a single-mom who was trying to create what she thought was expected of her.  The more time spent with my boyfriend, the more tense home life had become with my parents.  I wasn't born into a family that sat down and talked things through, our version of communication included yelling, walk-outs and the silent treatment (a crushing, slow death for someone like me).  As the parent of a young adult, I now understand how conversations with your children can end that way, but as a child myself at the time, it just pushed me into the arms of the man they hated.  My boyfriend and I had tons of issues to work out and none of the tools to work with but during that time it felt like it was us against the world.  I wanted to will into life the family I longed for and so when he asked me to marry him, I said yes.

Subscribe to the blog in order to get notifications when a new post is up.  Check back in next Friday for the continuation of my series, I Am a Bad Mom, Chapter 4: First comes love, then infidelity, then comes baby in a baby carriage, then comes marriage? (It's a working title 😕)

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