I’m definitely still traumatized by the notion that I could leave my house one hour and find that my husband was dead the next. It makes no sense to me on an emotional level and I still find myself walking around in a daze trying to understand how it happened. I feel like so much of my life might have been a dream.
But if I’m being completely honest, I had the same difficulty when I gave birth to G.
As a woman, I realize I was pregnant for almost 10 months, so I had a lot of time to wrap my mind around the fact that I was inevitably going to have a baby if my pregnancy was successful. And it was. And I remember every one of the 10 hours of hard labor I went through to get that baby out.
When all the pushing and screaming (they took me off my epidural because I wasn’t “focusing” and then asked me, “Do you realize how loud you’re screaming?”) was done, I looked at G. - freshly weighed and Apgar tested and thought, “Well there you go. A baby.” We knew we’d name him Gabe, so everyone in the delivery room said “hi” to Gabe and then I went about nursing – which is pretty crazy considering just months before these inflated mammary glands had something to do with getting me into this situation. (And now they were being requisitioned for said baby and his milk - which I would dutifully manufacture, without any real idea of how).
I soothed the baby, kept him warm, kept him fed and all the other fun things parents and babies can do together, but I had very few, if any, Hallmark moments that included soft focus of warm lighting, giggles of pure glee and extended periods of our family, huddled together, looking at our pride and joy.
At times I would, in fact, look on in horror – how in the world did I make this thing and when can I get rid of him? From there I would think, “Do I really want to get rid of him? Would I kill him to get rid of him? Drop him down stairs? Leave him in an overheated car?” Oh, the mind of a mother is not the gentle place of diaper ads: it can be one of the most macabre places for maternal thoughts to fester.
I had to debate with myself if I had post-partum depression. When I seriously thought of a PLAN to kill the baby, I had none. More than anything, I was just worried that since our relationship seemed at a lose end, I would err in judgment and inadvertently kill him (dropping down stairs, death in an overheated car, suffocation in bed, choking on toys, drowning in the bath: come on Ladies, help me out – I’m not the only one here…).
For two years, I looked at Gabe growing and thought, “That’s nice. Not dead yet!” And then, one day I can’t really remember, a light bulb went on: I had grown very fond of Gabe. I thought, “I might even be in love with this kid. Hmm. How about that?!” Thankfully, that’s just about when we got his autism diagnosis and in all honesty, I was floored, but got back up fairly quickly and thought, “It is what it is. And isn’t he just ADORABLE!”
Gabe is 6 and I’m still in love with him, even though life is crazier than usual without J. (who I speak with on a regular basis in my head to cushion the blow that inevitably, as a result of death and then cremation, he is not coming back). I’d say if it took me a few years to get settled with one of the most precious people in my life, it’ll take a few years to say “good-bye” to another. Who ever thought existence could be so painful? I’ll just have to forgive myself for being slow and not really understanding how it all happens.