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Tuesday, April 06, 2010


A couple weeks ago I was rereading my post on the guilt I felt for my reaction after Kayla's birth.

Reading this made me reflect on where I am in this journey today.

I've come to realize I can't feel guilty for my gut-reaction of being sad, detached, scared, and crying. We can't feel guilty for what we feel when we're in the moment. We can't necessarily control what we feel - we just feel what we do at any given time. It's not like I could make myself feel nothing but elation.

Letting go of the guilt doesn't mean that I don't still have some regret for the circumstances of how I greeted my daughter upon her birth. I think there will always be some regret that there was sadness at all, but hindsight is 20/20 and I can't change what happened.

From the moment I looked at Kayla's eyes I knew that she had Down syndrome and while I didn't immediately start crying over that I did feel myself becoming detached. I think I had to because I was trying desperately to hold it together and present an image of this being ok; no big deal. The breakdown would come later, when I was alone and no one could see me sobbing.

In the first few years the guilt I felt was also due to this perception I had that I was supposed to cry happy tears after the birth of my child. I thought that's what mothers did. It seems in every birth story you watch there is the image of the happy couple overcome with emotion and letting the tears flow as they welcome their child into the world.

I thought for sure I would be like that in the delivery room too - because I'm an emotional person and crying usually comes easily for me.

I felt guilty that I didn't react that way.

Then I had Lucas.

And you know what? I didn't cry happy tears after he was born either. I remember thinking, 'ok this is the part where I'm supposed to cry now' and I actually tried to cry, but except for a little wetness in the corner of my eyes I just couldn't do it.

Maybe I was too happy to cry. Maybe I was too tired, or exhausted, to cry. Maybe I'm just not one of those mothers who cry in the delivery room. And that's ok.

So while I wish I didn't even cry tears of sadness after Kayla was born, I know and understand why I did...and that's ok too. I'm human. I have emotions. I had to cry for the unexpected and the unknown.

I've also come to the realization that what is more important than how Kayla entered this world (with some sadness at her diagnosis) is how she is raised in this world (with love).

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Type (little) a said...

Thank You for allowing yourself to be human. We moms, especially rarely allow ourselves that.

It's so hard that we're expected to burst with love at the first second of seeing our child, when we don't even know them yet.

Karly said...

Love this realization. I feel it too.

Kath said...

Hi Michelle! It's Kathi & Lizzy from the old Tri21 days. You are in my Google Reader. I always love to see your posts about your family. This one is so well said and I am sure speaks for LOTS of us Moms. I usually speed read through the Reader but I just had to stop here and tell you how much I enjoyed reading this. Take care!

Kelly said...

Michelle, you nailed it!! I too feel sadness that I, allowed myself, to be human! But I soon realized that these raw emotions ARE what this journey is all about. Because we are human, we are learning too. This journey is teaching us to live, love, and accept unconditionally (maybe even more than we already do). It's about self-discovery. This journey isn't only about our children, it's about our growth as a family. And it's OK to feel (no matter what those feelings are). It's about what we learn along the way. Reflection in part is the result of growth (where we were then compared to where we are now). And I know, that will change, in years to come. It's amazing the depths our hearts can go!!

Mom24 said...

I love your conclusion, and I love that you're so open and honest about sharing your emotions. You are too right about it being how she's raised that truly matters and you're doing a beautiful job.

Ellen said...

wonderful post, Michelle.

I didn't cry with mine either, and I too felt like maybe there was something wrong with that reaction. Exhaustion and bewilderment better describe those moments.

Sari said...

A beautiful and honest post. Thank you for writing and sharing..

I often wonder if I write too much about my feelings, how I feel or felt, but then I realize that we all have had to deal with our child's diagnosis in our own way-there is no right or wrong. And no one can do it for us..
And when we get to "here", the biggest thing we can do for those coming after us is to be honest about the struggle in the beginning, but they too will get "here".

Thank you again Michelle.

Anxiously waiting for you guys to make it to SC! :)

Anonymous said...

My darling DIL when my wonderful son was born all I felt was fear. I kept thinking that this little human being was going to depend on me so much and I was scared that I'd let him down. I didn't cry happy or sad tears that day and I'm not ashamed of that. What counts now is the kind of parent you are and I will scream it to the roof tops that you are one of the greatest moms there is!!!

Oh and Joe's not such a bad Dad either :-)

Jasmine said...

Michelle, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing how you felt. I never read your story regarding Kayla's birth. I always wondered how it was for you.

Well said. I love reading your posts. xox

Windmills and Tulips

chelle said...

So honest and so raw. Good for you for coming to some peace about the feelings you experienced. You will inspire many and allow others to accept what they cannot change.

Erin said...

Honestly, I think that after the birth of any child, you never can be too sure of your emotions. I was more hormonal and crazy after my daughter was born and much more calm and together after Lucas was born. (Although I did cry a lot after finding out he had DS but I don't feel guilty about this at all.)I think a better judge of emotions is a month after birth, at least you know those are less influenced by hormones. Just my thoughts!

Lacey said...

Exactly. I don't remember being upset when Jax was born, I remember being upset when he was in the hospital his whole first year and I would see mommy's pushing their babies in the store and I didn't have mine.

Bailey's Leaf said...


Bonita said...

Amen to that! And you've done a splendid job of raising her and I'm sure you've cried plenty of tears of joy along the way.

For the record, as a former labor and delivery nurse, everyone reacts differently to giving birth. Some react with great emotion when the birth process doesn't go exactly as planned while others hardly show emotion when everything has gone wrong and the baby's or mother's life is in danger.

I cried when I had my firstborn, but when my daughter came along it took me a while to adjust to her. I expected her to look just like her brother and when she didn't she felt like a stranger for a while.

All that to say, I love the way you express your feelings that so many can identify with. You have a gift in that area.

Tausha said...

I so loved this post of yours today. I felt the same things. As soon as they took Sam out (c-section) they took him away. They then came in and told me and I didn't want to see him, I was scared, upset, sad all those emotions that you wrote about. I was doubley (sp) upset as I had given birth to a little girl 5 years ago in that same hospital, just down the hallway and I had to place her up for adoption so all those emotions flooded back as well. I felt I was going to die. I was so scared to see him and didn't for the first day, I was to scared. Now I can't even imagine life without him and I can't believe the love I have inside for him. I too have felt guilty for the feelings I had and what I went through but I also have realized like you said you can't stop yourself from feeling what you feel. I believe you have to feel it and move through it and decide what your going to do with it. I think we have all felt this same guilt and done beautiful things with those feelings we had in the beginning. Thanks for your post.

Ria said...

Thanks for openly sharing your realization. I've been wonderiing the same thing, as far as how I'll be with the birth of baby #2 (due April 26). I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

You are so wise. And strong.

Heather said...

I cried when my first born came into the world...sobbed actually. For quite awhile. Everyone thought I was just so overjoyed with love. In reality...I was just so glad it was over!! :o)

Hat said...

Wow! Funny I'm reading this tonight. A friend just sent me a link to this birth story, and wow, it's like reading my own story. Scary to think we have such raw emotion, but so true. Check it out if you've got a minute, definitely worth the time to read ...


Take care! Carey (Chelsea's mom)