Do Over.

*Disclaimer: This is not in any manner, shape or form going to be the most eloquent blog post for two reasons: 1) I’m realizing as I’m writing it that there aren’t adequate words in the English language to convey what I mean and 2) it’s pretty late and I’m tired. Here goes…

I’m honest about the fact that I possess many flaws. Two of my most negative traits are that I regret often and hold grudges like it’s my job. And now that I’m a mother? Regret daily. What mother doesn’t have a bad day, lash out at her children then cry herself to sleep thinking she’s a terrible mother? What working mother doesn’t question if she’s doing the right thing for her family?

Those regrets are normal, typical, universal.

This one? Might not be.

I’m at that age where pretty much every one of my friends has been pregnant, is pregnant, or is shortly going to announce that she is pregnant. Hell, it seems like every friend who was pregnant WITH me when I had my son is pregnant again, and kudos to them because I could never do it.

Okay, not every friend. But pretty damn close. And since I’ve been through pregnancy—which I hated with a red hot passion and wouldn’t do again unless someone offered me a million bucks, and even then I’d only consider it—I often listen to my friends’ experiences and compare theirs to mine.

Last night, as I held my son in my arms while he slept, I couldn’t help but feel that twinge of the uterus. You know, that feeling when your ovaries whisper, “You know you like this… Don’t you want to do this again?”

And the answer came to me immediately. Yes. Yes, I want to do this again.

But no, before you get excited, I really don’t want to do this again. Not with another child. I want to do this again with my child. My William. My only child.

Because the first time around? Oh, how I would change things.

I don’t want to be pregnant again. I don’t want morning sickness again. I don’t want anxiety and depression and fatigue again. I don’t want to live nine months feeling like a stranger inhabits my body.

I don’t want to care for a newborn again while caring for my toddler. I don’t want to figure out another child’s idiosyncrasies. I don’t want to wake every 2-3 hours. I don’t want to hear incessant colicky crying. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in a new child that I forget my first child. I don’t want to clean up spit up and wake up just to check if the baby’s breathing (… I still do this. He’s 17 months old. When will the paranoia end?)

I guess what I want is a do over. That’s right. A do over. I want to have my first pregnancy again. My first delivery again. I want to look at my son for the first time again. My first night in the hospital with my son again. My first night at home with my son. My first maternity leave. My first walk with the stroller. My first wrap with the Moby. My first baby bath. My first baby book.

I want to do all that over. With this kid.

You know why? Freaking hindsight.

To be blunt, there are so many ways I feel like a badass parent. And then there are ways I feel like a shitty parent. But I know at the end of the day that I’ve tried my best and I’ve loved my kid to death while trying.

What I don’t know? Why some of my friends’ experiences are so different from mine. And why that’s fair. And if they ever experience the same kind of regret or indignation.

Some of my friends have never so much as gagged during their pregnancies. SERIOUSLY? I spent every waking moment with my head in a plastic bag or a toilet. But okay, that one I can chock up to hormones, every woman’s body being different, etc, etc.

Some of my friends had little cute signs that said “THIS BABY IS BREASTFED” on the little bassinet in the hospital. The nurses gave my son a pacifier without asking and pressured me to bottle-feed. But okay, I can chock that up to my absent-mindedness, my lack of assertiveness, my unwillingness to make DECISIONS before my son came.

But I think the biggest realization I had that made me feel certain my experience having my son was not as … I’m searching for a word… perfect? enjoyable? I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t a word for it. This realization came to me when one of my dear friends told me her story and one small aspect stuck out.

She mentioned the nurses bringing her daughter over to her for “skin to skin” contact. Wait, what? What’s skin to skin? Why didn’t anyone think it was important for me to have that with my son? Would I have even wanted it if they had offered? Would it have made that first very emotional and exhausting night any different? Can I even remember how long it was and how many people visited before I got real one-on-one time with my son?

These thoughts plague me. My first thought when I found out I was in labor was, “Oh God. I’m supposed to work tomorrow. He can’t come today.” And to this day, I feel guilty about it. Regret. Because I didn’t know. I didn’t know I would love him. I didn’t know how sweet he would sound and smell. I didn’t know that he would become the happiest, gentlest, funniest child I’ve ever been around. I didn’t know.

So do I want to try for another baby? Nope. Not even a thought right now. And I guess that’s the difference between me and many of my friends because they are currently experiencing or will experience another pregnancy, delivery, baby, and they may get to rectify some of the things they wish had been different the first time around. But for me? Would I want to experience those life-altering, precious moments with William again, with a clear head, an open heart and maybe a little more knowledge from those around me? If only…

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3 thoughts on “Do Over.

  1. Two Christmases ago I made a huge, serves 16, cheesecake. I don’t know if you bake, but cheesecakes are a lot of freaking work. On the way to the refrigerator it slipped out of my hands and splattered all over the floor. My first thought was, “Is there any way I can make this so it didn’t happen?” And I was dead serious! A minute later I began to laugh hysterically because I realized it was the dumbest thought I had ever had. We get so many second chances in life, but never with time…
    Anyway, I can honestly say that I understand. Of course not as a parent, but I do feel overwhelmed by nostalgia when I think of my grandfather. I know you can relate. I think about what it would be like to laugh with him, smell him, dance with him. And I have this feeling when I think about my life when I was like 19-23. How much fun I use to have, how close me and all my friends were, and how different things are now. It not just about regret, it’s about the beautiful feeling you can’t have again no matter how clear your memory is. And even for chicks like us, who have the gift of gab, it’s impossible to articulate. But I get it, and I love this post 🙂

  2. When your son is out of diapers , talking non stop and doing all the things that you used to do for him by himself , you will want another baby lol. trust me, you will miss it. I felt just like you did when I had my first and it took me 8 yrs to want another one ! I spaced my kids out so that it wasnt so overwhelming . That way I could spend equal amounts of time with them without feeling guilty. You sound like a pretty great mom to me ! Keep up the good work 🙂

  3. Shannon, I totally teared up reading this. I’m with you on so many levels here. I keep thinking I want another baby, because I want to relive these experiences, but I don’t want a bigger family. I don’t want to spread my attention for my two boys even thinner by bringing in another baby, or struggle to meet all the financial requirements of having a 5 person family (like a bigger car and home), but I do wish I could try again. Try labor again. Change my mind about circumcision. Cloth diaper Logan. Wrap my newborns in Mobys. I’m angry that I didn’t know more before they were born, that I didn’t have as much control over what was happening with my labors because I didn’t know or didn’t have the support that I have now. I’m sad that these days are gone so fast. I want to relive even the good stuff like the perfect breastfeeding experience I had with Liam over and over and over. Hold their tiny bodies close to mine and remember the faces they made when they slept. It feels like it’s all leaving my memory so fast.

    I want to let go of those feelings, of regret and anger and sadness, and only feel the immense joy and love that I feel most of the time, but it’s not that easy. I hear a friend’s perfect birth story, and I’m happy for her while also feeling my heart ache. And I wonder too, if they ever experience the same kind of regret or indignation, months down the road about some of the choices they’ve made for their family. Not because I want them to feel how I do, but because it’s nice to know we’re not alone in this. That some of us struggle with knowing if we’re doing it right.

    I hope you can let go of the guilt you feel about the first thoughts you had when you realized you were in labor. You weren’t ready. You didn’t expect it. It was out of your control, and I think we both struggle with not always having control, so I can understand that. Despite how sick you were, I’d guess a little tiny part of you wanted to keep him inside just a little longer, where only you could feel his kicks, and where you knew he was safe from the outside world, and always with you. I know I did. There’s no shame in wanting a few more days, no matter what the reason.

    So I feel this too. You’re not alone. I thought I could do it “right” the second time around, and I still fell short. And they’re growing so fast that every day there are more things to wish I had done differently, so I’m trying as much as I can to focus on loving every new moment and using my experiences to make each new day better, but sometimes I still feel that little tug on my heart that says, “If only…”

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