If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal mind, anonymously or otherwise, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...
September 13th I was lucky enough to celebrate my son's one year birthday. Such a happy day. During the "Happy Birthday" singing, the opening of presents, and the cake smashing I secretly began to mourn. I began to mourn the beginning of what turned out to be the darkest period in me and my son's life - a time of pain, fear, depression, and ultimately hope.
I suffered through the beginnings of motherhood like any new mom. The unbelievable nipple pain, the hemorrhoids, the swelling, the lack of sleep. I suffered well. I believed it was a small price to pay for a such a new life. After about two weeks, though, everything changed. The baby would not stop crying. He finished nursing - he cried. He tried to sleep - he cried. You put him down - he cried. You held him - he cried. He would not stop crying. I could not stop crying. He didn't sleep. I didn't sleep.
I begged him to stop crying. I asked him, "Please, just tell mommy what to do and I will do it if it will make you stop crying!" One day I thought, "I bet if I threw him in the pool, he would stop crying." Later I thought, "If I drive the car off the road, I bet the crying would stop." I had pills. If I took them, I wouldn't have to hear the crying.
After a few trips to the doctor and a few mis-diagnoses (acid reflux and/or allergy to my breastmilk) and one trip to get an x-ray for a distended stomach, I got the phone call. "Your son has a massive tumor in his abdomen. Drive to Children's Hospital, room 124 immediately." He was six weeks old. I was alone in the house, it was 10:30 pm on October 25, 2005. I apologized over and over again to my baby for what was happening to him. "Mommy didn't mean to give you a tumor. Mommy didn't mean to think about killing you." "Mommy is sorry for everything."
Two days later, my son was reborn. He came out of surgery without a one pound softball-sized tumor in his abdomen. It was cancer, but the chances looked good. My baby began to get better and I crept ever so slowly into a deep depression. This wasn't how I pictured motherhood. I wasn't prepared to deal with cancer. NOBODY TOLD ME I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH MY SON HAVING CANCER. I was angry. I yelled at my husband. It was his fault, it was my fault, it was our fault. I was so angry and what was happening and I had nowhere to put my anger.
I sought help. The first therapist helped me to try and get over the cancer fear. For the most part, it worked. She did not, however, treat my marriage problems and my depression. We tried to be a family. I thought about divorcing him since he was no help anyway. I realized that was unfair to all of us. I still loved him. I needed him.
We moved to be closer to my family and the hospital in case we ever needed to go through chemo. The move helped. I was back in my old neighborhood, with friends and family close by. We started going to marriage counseling to try and pick up the pieces of a broken life. It's working. And after eight longs months of suffering through depression, I started on Lexapro and it's saving my life.
The reason I was unable to fully be happy on my son's birthday is the terrible sadness I feel when I think about what he and I lost. We lost our happy beginning. Our beginning together as mother and son was a total disaster and I can't ever get that time back to him. I can't take away the awful pain he must have felt for those six terrible weeks. For myself, I mourn the lost of a normal introduction into motherhood. I look around at all my friends who are new moms and I realize, "They don't share my experience - I can't relate to theirs." It's a lonely existence. I will not have any more children because I'm afraid of those first six weeks.
So, I look forward to October 27th. A day that gave me back my son. A baby that smiled for the first time in the hospital. A baby that was held by a family member, 24 hours a day, for over a week in the hospital. A baby that spent his first Halloween hooked up to monitors with a tube down his nose. A baby that does not cry any more.
You can meet Jack over at Jack Attack.