Dashed Dreams

12 days old

I’m still so, so sad whenever I think about how my second post-partum period was supposed to be.

The first weeks with Littlest as a newborn were hard. They didn’t start out awful, but I did spiral into short-lived depression at around 6/7 weeks. It let up when he started sleeping better. But memories of that time haunted me whenever I thought about having a second baby, and I knew I wanted one. I wanted to do it all again with less anxiety, less stress, to be able to enjoy it more.

At some point I became sure that one of the best ways to do that was to have my mom here, for as long as possible. I wanted someone to be able to hold him for me when he hadn’t slept all night (though actually, Even Littler never did that, unlike his big brother). Someone to empty the garbage and do a load of laundry for me so that I would have something to wear every day when he was spitting up regularly on my three post-partum outfits. Someone to play with Littlest when I was busy nursing. To make us dinner to give J a break.

When my parents were here last March (just before the pandemic hit), my dad touched up the paint in our downstairs laundry room. It’s what the French call a “summer kitchen” with a door out to the backyard. It has our washer and dryer, a freezer, and a sink, as well as a radiator that we never turned on. Once he had cleaned up the walls, we worked on the plumbing, replacing the old, dented sink, adding a mirror, putting curtains on the window into the garage, and hooking an insulating cushion to the bottom of the door. I bought bathroom storage baskets, hand soap, and a real garbage can. We laid down an old bamboo mat on the floor. I set up the furniture so that my mom would have somewhere to set her suitcase, and thought about dragging out an old chair so she’d have somewhere to sit in the evenings. A few weeks before Even Littler was born, I made a final list of the last few things to do: bring down an old nightstand, a hand towel, put a real mattress on the fold-out couch. Those things never happened. The bedside lamp I bought is currently sitting on the fold-out couch, still in its plastic wrap.

For all the laundry I do, I don’t linger too long downstairs. Every time I see the lamp, the couch, the mirror, I think about what was supposed to have been. How my mom was supposed to be able to sneak upstairs in the early morning to check on the baby, change his diaper, hold him while I took my shower. She was going to take care of Littlest, to take him to school, to wake him up and tell him baby brother was here and that he was going to the hospital to meet him. These images are mostly buried somewhere inside me, though I often broach the subject on its surface with colleagues because I am just so, so sad about it, and I don’t think I will get over it.

I know these things will happen one day. He just won’t be a newborn. He’ll be an older baby, a toddler, a child. He will love his Nanna as much as Littlest does (and Littlest does ask us every once in a while if Nanna and Grandpa are coming to our house). I try to remember that the pandemic didn’t take anyone away from us, that we will make up for lost time.

But regularly I find myself taking the time to remember these dreams I had, just a few seconds, not too long, and wondering at how the sadness persists.

(I also often feel bad about feeling too bad about this, since we haven’t lost anyone, and so many worse things are going on in other people’s lives. I know a girl who was separated from her family for 9 months. And I’m certain I’m romanticizing a time that would have been complex no matter what. But I’m actually hoping that writing about this will help me let go.)

2 thoughts on “Dashed Dreams

  1. Canedolia says:

    I haven’t read any blogs for ages and just dropped in this evening to catch up on yours. I totally get how you feel about this. I’m sad that I haven’t seen my parents for 18 months, but far sadder that my children haven’t, because 18 months is half a lifetime for the little one. And I don’t think you should feel bad about feeling bad – someone else’s worse situation doesn’t negate yours. Fingers crossed that the vaccinations work, the situation improves and we can all travel again soon!

    • Thanks for dropping by! Yes this whole period has been really hard on my parents. They have at least been able to see my American nephews a couple of times in the past year. And thanks for the encouraging words.

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