When I first found out I was pregnant, I was a whole mix of emotions. Scared, happy, excited. Mostly terrified. I was 26 with a little bit of college under my belt. I worked full time as a Kitchen Manager at a really busy restaurant in Charlottetown. My fiance and I made a lot of money for our ages. Yet I was still afraid.
As the months went by I became more excited. We learned I was carrying a boy! We decided on a name. Charlie Joseph Michael. Every day that passed by I loved him more and more. I never thought I could love someone I never met.
More months went by and I was put off work at 28 weeks due to back problems. I stayed home all day every day. My due date was fast approaching (March 30th 2015) and we weren’t prepared. We had a few clothes and a bassinet. Pretty much it.
On February 24th, 2015 I started having contractions. “This is too early” I thought “we aren’t ready. I’m not ready.” After a full day of contractions that were horribly timed, I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Low and behold, Charlie was coming fast. I arrived at the hospital at 8 pm on February 26th, I quickly went from 2 cm dilated, to 9 cm dilated within 40 minutes. My water broke and I started pushing. And pushing. And pushing. The nurses could see Charlie’s head.
Suddenly his heart rate dropped, and he was holding onto the umbilical cord. I was rushed to the OR and had an emergency c-section. My little Charlie was born at 10:37 pm. 2 and a half hours after arriving at the hospital. 5 weeks before his due date. I was not the first to hold him. Nor was I the first to see him. I actually didn’t get to see him until I was out of recovery, almost 3 hours after they took him out of my belly.
Charlie couldn’t eat. I was not breastfeeding, so he had to have a feeding tube. He remained in the hospital 2 weeks after I was discharged. During his time in the hospital, I already felt like I had failed him. I watched him day after day not drink enough formula. Was it because I smoked? Was it because I didn’t breastfeed? What did I do to make him come this early? What can I do to help him? Is he ever going to come home? Two weeks later he finally came home. I got visits from public health saying that he was gaining weight like he was supposed to, eating like he was supposed to and everything was fine.
The first few weeks were fine. Lots of sleeping….for Charlie. Not for mom. I never thought I could be that tired. And still, he demanded my attention. My fiance worked full time and couldn’t take any time off when Charlie was born. We were already behind on our bills, we couldn’t afford for him to miss work. I was home, alone, a new mom, all day with Charlie.
There were some days that he was fine. Ate and slept. And then there were other days where all he did was cry. All I did was cry. I couldn’t handle it. I felt like I was a failure. Like I was the only person in the world going through this experience.
They don’t tell you about this. They don’t tell you about the darkness. The darkness that is every day and every night with no sleep and with a screaming child. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” they said. “You’ll never sleep again” they said. Every day I felt like I wanted to scream. And just cry. I felt like I had no one. I felt ashamed for feeling the way that I did.
One day, my fiance woke up, and I was sitting on the couch, playing with Charlies feet, just…crying. Crying so hard. So many thoughts crossed my mind. Why did we do this? Why can’t I get him to stop? Why does he hate me so much? How can I love someone so much, but feel so alone, and so empty at the same time?
I lost friends. No one wanted to talk to me it seemed. There were days upon days I wouldn’t leave the house. All I did, was stay at home, and cry. I had a good support system. My fiance, my mother and father, my brother. A few friends down the hall from me. A couple of friends I worked with. But I never talked about the darkness. No one wants to hear about the darkness. Everyone wants to hear about how cute he is, or what he’s doing, or how he’s growing. All I wanted to do was scream at the next person that said “Oh! You must be loving motherhood so much! I bet he’s just an angel”
I’m not sure how I got out of the darkness. Maybe it was returning to work so soon after having Charlie (7 weeks). I needed that break. That few hours I could act like an adult again. Maybe it was my fiance letting me sleep for hours on end some days. Maybe it was the two friends that I had, that let me talk about the darkness. That let me talk about how hard this is. I don’t know what it was that got me out. But I did.
Now all I want to do is tell other women about the darkness. Tell them about it so they know. So they aren’t ashamed to be in it. It might happen to you, your sister, your wife, your friend. It might not. But all I want to do is make people aware. Aware of the darkness. And let them know that THEY ARE NOT ALONE. For the love of God you are not alone. This is the hardest thing any woman, any young woman, any older woman, adoptive mother, new mother, seasoned mother, will ever have to go through. But you are not alone. TALK ABOUT THE DARKNESS. Let people know your feelings. DO NOT BE ASHAMED.
You don’t have to get out of the darkness on your own, you have help. Let me help you.