There is a picture I took with my webcam early in baby’s life. I was trying to take a cute picture of her sleeping against my chest, but when I look at this picture I see a lot more:
I look at myself in this photo and I see sadness. I see the hard I was facing. I see the future I was looking into – sleepless nights, days without being able to eat or shower, months until I would be able to wear real clothes. I can’t bring myself to delete the photo, as hard as it is to look at, because it speaks to me and it reminds me of the changes I’ve experienced.
For the first time in a very long time, I’m happy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to define myself as happy without feeling an asterisk. I’ve been on anti-depressants off and on since high school. I’ve been struggling with various parts of my life for longer. I contemplated suicide when I was 16, and again when I was in my early 20s. I have spent months in the absolute depths of depression.
When I was pregnant, postpartum depression was a concern to me, as it was to my midwives and my family doctor. In the late stages of my pregnancy and early post-pregnancy I struggled. One of my biggest worries was that I was going to pass on all my mental issues to her, that she would grow up to hurt as much as I had. I couldn’t get over the idea that I was going to be a bad mother because I would distance myself so as not to infect her with all the things that are wrong with me.
And now we’re two months in and I look at her and realize that I’m not infecting her, she’s infecting me.
The past two weeks have been full of sunshine and walks and watching her grow and learn. When I walk over to her crib in the morning she looks up and smiles and kicks and gets very excited that I’ve come to get her so the day can start. She smiles all the time, most importantly she smiles when I smile at her and so I’ve spent weeks smiling more than I ever have in my life.
I look at her and I can’t help but feel love and pride and joy. I feel happy. I love being a mother. I love being her mother.
It’s been a shock to the system, but I’m getting used to it. I can be happy.