.what could have been.

I’m sitting here with a sleeping Bram in my sling. I love feeling the soft, warm weight of him against my body, and the hands-free mobility that the sling provides is a welcome relief for my arms. I thought I’d take a few minutes to write, as I’ve been struggling through some postpartum depression in recent weeks. There’s been a lot to process alongside my hormones: breastfeeding/colic troubles, sleep deprivation, cabin fever, changes to my diet, etc. I think that having Bram with us has also cast into stark relief just what it is we lost when we lost E. To know that if the dice had been thrown differently, that she could have been with us in these ways, that R could have known full-term pregnancy/birth and a breastfeeding relationship, and that I could have known myself in an NGP role, these have shown themselves as more fully realized losses to grieve. I know that postpartum depression loses a lot of power when you talk about it openly and take proactive steps to treat it, so I’ve begun to open up about where I’m at emotionally. I’ve also started taking additional EPAs and DHAs, started light therapy again (as I think the winter compounds the problem), committed myself to a more rigorous exercise regimen, and made an appointment with my therapist to talk this stuff through. I’ve noticed a significant improvement over the last three days since putting some of these changes into action. I’m hopeful that this will result in an upswing, as I don’t want to waste any of these early days with Bram locked into sadness and irritability.

In other news, Bram’s rash seems to be getting better, as does his night-sleeping. I really attribute this to taking all of the dairy out of my diet. Also, he has let us put him down for a few long day naps in the Mamaroo swing, which has been wonderful (though R and I have a hard time pulling ourselves away from watching him in order to accomplish the work we need to do). I find myself transfixed with watching him all the time. He’s just such a miracle, you know? This recent post over at Insert Metaphor has me remembering the day we conceived him. We were only three months out from losing E. It was the day after my graduation from my Master’s program. My parents had visited and just left. We’d been taking OPKs all weekend. We had only ordered one vial of sperm that cycle (the only cycle that was ever true of). R had an instinct not to ask them to send the most potent vial available (again, something we had always done), instead she wanted to leave it to chance what vial we were sent. We planned to inseminate the night we surged, but R had an instinct to wait it out until the following day, which we did. I think that if we hadn’t trusted all of her instincts about that cycle, Bram would never have come into being. I am just so very grateful to have been able to make this particular baby with R at that particular time. I feel like we were always meant to be his mamas; we just had to wait our turn to pluck his little self out of the ether.

And on a closing note, some new cute pictures of this particular Rabbit:

                                                  Bram at home in his space-pod-esque Mamaroo!

                                                         This boy LOVES his Saturday tub bath!

                              I call this his Hobbit-look. Melts my heart every time he gives me those eyes!

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9 thoughts on “.what could have been.

  1. That last photo of him is absolutely adorable. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling, J, but I’m so glad you’re talking about these feelings and starting to feel a bit of relief. I hope that trend continues. Love to all three of you (and the kitties, too!).

  2. Thank you for sharing! The words that you and your wife share are so honest and vulnerable; they encourage me to be more honest in my writing (I’m an English grad student) as well.

  3. Sorry you’ve been experiencing these feelings, J, but it sounds like, as always, the Gardner family has a plan to tackle the situation. Reading about that weekend of graduation reminds me of the time, and of finding out you were pregnant two weeks later at Congress. So many things surrounding B’s conception, labor, and birth seem to be miraculous and fated in a way. I hope you feel better soon and keep enjoying this precious time with your wife and your son (and H and N too!) Love, MJB

  4. PPD is so hard. be gentle with yourself. you are doing an amazing job with bram. and he is quite the gorgeous little one. hope things improve for you soon! don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  5. so proud of you for reaching out, getting help and writing about it. this stuff is definitely not for the faint of heart. i had really tough ppd – until i started taking my placenta by pill form. *so* grateful for the midwife who provided that service. i’m sorry for the extra component of grieving. there’s all sorts of things i want to say to make your pain go away, but i also know and honor the sacredness of the grieving process. i guess the flip side is that this darkness can give you even greater perspective on the light and the miracle that is bram. you all clearly are blessed to have each other. hold on to that. and keep reaching for the light.

    • Thanks, Danielle! I also encapsulated my placenta, which (I think) has been helpful. Day by day things are getting lighter and more normalized. It’s hard to stay sad for long with such a wonderful partner and snuggable baby :-)

  6. I feel terrible that I never commented on this post. What Could Have Beens are such powerful ghosts among us – I don’t know how else to say it. Some days their presence is so strong, other days it’s just you and he air you breathe.

    Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge that I heard what you wrote. You have both a beautiful son, fully meant to be yours, and a whole other equally beautiful reality that slipped through your fingers and the two are so connected and so I can only imagine how that affects you every day.

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