|This is neither me nor my son, but isn't he adorable all the same?!|
You'll recall from a previous post that I was worried about how it would go. I worried that I would immediately descend into an anxious, depressed state and be trapped inside my own lonely world, isolated from my wife and from my child.
I'm happy to say that none of those fears have come to pass. This has been a powerful experience, and if ever there is any testament to the healing I've made in the past year, it's that this birth has been far more uplifting and joyous than the first experience we had. Some of that healing has been physical: My anti-depressant medication, for which I thank God, has no doubt resolved some of the physical causes for the depression. Some of that healing has been mental: Seventeen months of raising a child, and simply having gone through the birth experience before, has left me better prepared for what comes with it, and we've lived and learned from our mistakes the first time around. Finally, all of this has to do with spiritual healing, the Grace of God raining upon us and helping us through this.
Whatever can be said about the sources of my healing, the difference between this birth experience and the first is like night and day. The first time, I was numb and withdrawn. I resented my situation, I resented fatherhood, and I dreaded life. This time, I'm excited about the journey to come; I'm cherishing the days to come, and looking forward to getting to know my son better and to care for him.
I know that there probably seems to be a dark side to this. It may seem like my poor daughter has gotten the proverbial short end of the stick; and I think, to my great shame--this is seriously not an easy thing for me to admit--it really was like that for months after her birth. I think that it all made it harder for me to connect with her and to realize how blessed I was.
|It's elementary, my dear fellow: You're a terrible parent.|
My sweet baby girl, if the day ever comes that this blog is still active, and you read these words, know that you are loved just as much as your brother, or any other siblings you have. Your father was affected by forces beyond your control. You were a wonderful baby, and everyone always commented on how good you were (and are as I type these words). A wise woman who has worked with countless babies, in fact, has said that you are one of the top three babies, for being easy to work with and look after, that she has ever seen. Be proud in that, and know that you are so easily lovable.
The thing is, now that my son is here, it has impacted everything for the better. I am more excited about fatherhood itself than I have been, and the important thing is that this excitement is not limited to my relationship with my son. Having a better birth experience this time around has given me a better sense of how special this role is, period. That includes with my daughter. It's like I realize, now, what I've had all along, and as ashamed as I am of not having recognized it--emotionally speaking--sooner than this, I'm grateful that I've realized it now. Now, while my daughter still hasn't possessed the gift of speech, while her young memories are still in formation.
It's a funny thing. I had worried that, if this birth went more smoothly than the last, I might end up showing favoritism, and like my son more than my daughter, due to having easier, less traumatic memories to look back on surrounding his birth. On the contrary, I have learned to look at my daughter in a new light, so that now I feel more connected with her than before. Oh, I know that when I return to the daily routine at home, putting these realizations into practice will not be a piece of cake. I expect to get bored with parenthood, to have a difficult time motivating myself, just as has been the case before. I think that happens to most parents. But something has changed. My attitude, my sense of how blessed I am, and what an honor it is to be a parent. Not just any parent, but the parent of these children, son and daughter.
And by that, I think that I'll be a little better at loving both of my children (and any future children) with all the fierceness and dedication they deserve. It won't be perfect. It won't be simple. It'll be messy. But it will be real.