I often wonder what it would have been like to enjoy the first few months of my third baby’s life. Sure, there were cute and wonderful moments we experienced together, but I really struggled. I had a very colicky baby, and I was desperate for a reprieve.
I breastfed him around the clock, but he still always screamed like he was hungry. But surely he couldn’t be hungry because I was constantly feeding him! I tried everything I could think of to soothe him, but nothing ever worked except trying to nurse him to sleep for a short nap.
And, of course, I could never enjoy those short, quiet moments because I was so anxious that any sudden movements might wake him up and cause more crying. I just could not listen to any more crying. I was doing all this while also trying to wrangle my other two boys who couldn’t help but be loud and demanding like kids naturally are. I was almost always annoyed with them because they would wake up the baby, and then there would be more crying…from both the baby and me.
With the help of a friend of mine, I finally figured out that my baby had a tongue tie. She referred me to the lactation consultant she had worked with on a similar issue.
This picture below is from the day I found out from a weighted feed that my baby was only getting about half as much milk as he needed while nursing (due to the tongue tie). I could adequately pump milk, so supply wasn’t the problem. I was happy to know why my baby had been crying so much, but at the same time heartbroken at the reason: he was starving. We got the tongue tie revised and things began to level off, and he began to grow at a normal rate again.
It’s been six years since then, and I can’t help but look back on those first few months with sadness. I missed a lot of time I could have been bonding with my baby and enjoying him instead of always feeling like a bomb was about to go off.
I’m still grieving the loss of those first few months. I can barely remember anything except difficult times. What could we have had if I had known what was really going on? How many more memories could we have made together? How might his life be different if he hadn’t had to spend so much time crying and hungry?
I had already struggled during the newborn phase with my first two children due to post-partum depression, but this was a whole new level as I was dealing with depression along with the feeding issues. The truth is, I’ve never really known what it’s like to enjoy the newborn phase. And now that I’m done having kids, I will never know what that experience is like.
I look in awe as I see some mothers describe how joyful they feel with their newborn babes. I didn’t have the chance or the space to have that in quite the same way. The newborn stage is hard for most people, so I know I’m not unique, but I can’t help but feel like I missed something really special.
I grieve that, yet I know I’m not alone in this experience.
So many of us understand the universal feeling of grief. What we grieve isn’t the same, but most of us have felt it on some level.
Some of us are grieving a person, a loss on such a deep level that it’s indescribable. Some of us are grieving a future we thought we would have that is now gone. Some of us are grieving a missed experience, something that we can never get back.
My grief happens to be the latter.
It’s easy to say we should be grateful for what we do still have. And I am. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit there is still a hole in my heart for that time I can never get back. Those days and months that could have been so different. The smiles I could have seen. The play I could have enjoyed with my older children. The family time we could have had. The peace I could have felt. Those exact moments are missing.
I’m glad we got through it and are in a better place now, but what happened to us is still a loss. I don’t know when I’ll feel completely over it.
Or if I’ll ever be over it.
Because I think a part of me will always wonder what could have been.