Monday, December 01, 2008

Oh my heart

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.

- Elizabeth Stone


I've been thinking about this for a long time. I think the first time I heard a form of this quote was probably while I was pregnant with Nicky. And I don't think I really understood it. Oh, I thought I did, but I didn't really.

When I finally brought Nicky home I think I had some PPD. Not nearly as bad as some, but I did have thoughts of hurting him. However they weren't what I expected when I'd heard about that as a symptom so I didn't immediately make the connection. I wasn't thinking of me deliberately hurting him. I would find myself staring into space imagining all the horrible things that could happen to my baby in this huge and now very scary world.

I didn't even notice it consciously until Tom mentioned taking him to St. Augustine beach for a day trip. Immediately I was picturing us at the beach: surf, sand, lots of sunscreen, and a baby hat of course. Pictured me standing with him in the waves, maybe in water up to my knees of course. And we'd look at the waves, the sunlight dancing on the water, the people playing in the water.

And then, unbidden came the horrible thought, what if I wasn't paying enough attention to him, what if a big wave came, and knocked me over, and I dropped him and the undertow pulled him away from me? Immediately I was terrified to take him to the beach.

We eventually went anyway, although not that day, and I was super-vigalent and only let the water get up to my ankles and we didn't set him down for even a second. But still, that was just once instance when immediately I thought of the danger in something that before I'd have just thought of as a fun family outing.

I started noticing my thought patterns more consciously after that, and then it got worse but was totally unrelated to Nicky or my parenting and was instead wrapped up with changes at my job. A few sessions with a therapist was all I needed to iron things out, but still...the world is a very scary place.

Everywhere I turn, it seems there are horrible things happening. Natural disasters, kidnappings, murders, accidents... I rarely watch TV. I pretty much only watch Disney movies, Caillou (which yes, it is irritating), Curious George, Martha Speaks, and maybe a little Sesame Street, Clifford, and Word World if I'm home on a weekday. But still, I run across stories online, sometimes involving people I know on the net, that just strike me down.

These just fan the flames of my well-hidden, shoved into a mental closet, terror. I have to keep it squelched in order to even leave the house. Sometimes I even convince myself that I'm not worried. I think in some ways folks might even think I'm pretty cavalier about Nicky's safety sometimes. I let him explore, even fall sometimes.

But honestly, even beyond the fears (which fears really just isn't a big enough word here) about what can happen to Nicky, there's an even larger fear. One I only discovered once he was about 7 months old or so. I remember it because we were already moved into this house. And that is the fear of what could happen to me, or to Tom, or (heaven-forbid) to both of us.

There have been a few things that have really driven this home to me. One blogger, Whymommy, that I follow who has fought amazing odds and beaten her breast cancer and has two little boys close in age to Nicky. Another blogger, Lisa, who is fighting her 3rd fight with cancer and has two tween-aged girls. And the recent dual-hospitalization of Tom and I.

I mean, I have my faith (well my own version of it) and do believe in something of an afterlife. I know with my whole heart that should something happen to someone I love, I will see them again and they will not be unhappy or in pain while waiting for me.

However, the thought of something happening to me, Tom, or both of us. The thought of leaving Nicky here, behind, to fend for himself, even with the amazing love he'd have from the rest of our family. I just can't even examine this feeling too closely for fear it would just swallow me up and I'd never leave the house again.

Sometimes I think that parenting must be the bravest thing a person can do.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, parenting is brave and yes, you and Tom, with the Lord's all-loving and all-knowing help and support will be fine.
Love you bunches and forever,
xxxoooMom/Grammie :)
Hug Nicky for me!

Lisa said...

Hi Angela. I've been trying to post comments to you for a while now and they never work. I wondered if you had me blocked or something. Anyway, I'll try again today.

I have felt the same as you a million times. Especially after first bringing Fischer home from the hospital. I worried about SIDS way too much and I worried about intruders and how I would deal with that. I almost "liked" playing out the entire scenarios in my head of exactly how I would try and save us... and the dogs. I could thing of some pretty terrible things. Then one day, Andy told me to stop putting so much energy into those ideas and everytime one popped into my head - I was supposed to quickly replace it with me h watching Fisch at his first baseball game, or helping him get ready for prom, or graduation, or his wedding... or anything in the far future where we we are all ok.

That REALLY helped. And so did the drugs ;).

Now, like you, I worry about something happening to Andy or I and Fischer not really ever remembering me. (Especially since I am in very few pictures because I'm usually the one taking them ... and I hate to have my pic taken)I think I need to go back to that old thinking of the future thing... I had forgotten about it until now. I know it will help. Especially since I'm off the drugs ;)

Anyway, I've been thinking about you a lot lately. I'm sending lots of positives your way! :)

Lisa said...

yay! It actually posted!

Danielle-lee said...

Found you through a comment you posted on Jodifur's blog.
I do think being a parent is the bravest thing we do. I respect my parents SO MUCH MORE now that I am a parent. It is so scary sometimes, and it is hard to push those scary thoughts out of your head. But you have to. I wish I had some advice to give you on the fear, but I too have fears, so I'm not the one to be giving advice. :)
Just love your babies the best way you can, be there, love them, and pray for them.

Danielle-lee said...

Also, if you ever need to post something anonymously, there is a blog that I found where you can send in posts anonymously to be posted. That way, none of your family members can read it. :) It is http://useyourwordz.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Wow, Anela. This is beatifully written post. That quote sums up being a parent to a t! I wish I could tell you that the feeling leaves, but it does not. I fear everyday that something will happen to me and my family- and then who will take care of Colin? Will they know how to count his carbs and give him insulin? Will they know the song I made up to sing him to sleep at night? Will they know just the right spot to rub his head to calm him down? I know these fears are irrational, but I can't help it- and neither can you. We just have to keep doing the best that we can and hold them tight each and everyday!

I love you guys!
Gayle

Anonymous said...

Angela, your blog entries are beautifully written.
You can express and share your feelings and fears on mothering so well and that not only helps you sort through them but other young mothers as well.
How very well I remember having the exact fears you have stated when you and your sister, Liz were very small and we lived so far from any relatives at all.
I wish I could tell you it will get easier but I can not. I can tell you every gray hair and every sleepless night is so worth it though. Just listen to one word of advice from me, trust me, love is all that matters, thats it! You have already laid a wonderful foundation of love for your young son, this I know for sure. Love is a choice as well as a feeling that wells up within you. Think, breathe,touch, speak and move in love always----it is all that matters in life, all. Of course, I am speaking to the choir---as you show love in all you do, sweet one.
Love you so much,
Mom
xxxooo :)and bunches!

Anonymous said...

Angela, your blog entries are beautifully written.
You can express and share your feelings and fears on mothering so well and that not only helps you sort through them but other young mothers as well.
How very well I remember having the exact fears you have stated when you and your sister, Liz were very small and we lived so far from any relatives at all.
I wish I could tell you it will get easier but I can not. I can tell you every gray hair and every sleepless night is so worth it though. Just listen to one word of advice from me, trust me, love is all that matters, thats it! You have already laid a wonderful foundation of love for your young son, this I know for sure. Love is a choice as well as a feeling that wells up within you. Think, breathe,touch, speak and move in love always----it is all that matters in life, all. Of course, I am speaking to the choir---as you show love in all you do, sweet one.
Love you so much,
Mom
xxxooo :)and bunches!

Anonymous said...

I've always known that you are very brave-I'm glad that you agree!
xxoo
Liz

Mama Bub said...

That's incredible, how you spoke what so deep in my heart. I never could have understood this feeling pre-parenthood and I still often consider the worst case scenario involving Bub. Honestly, this is one of things holding my back from making a decision about having baby #2. I'm not sure I could handle double the fear.