I started following a wonderful blog http://deborah-bryan.com/ “The Monster in Your Closet” and as I read Deborah’s post http://deborah-bryan.com/2012/02/18/mommy-guilt-thou-art-mine-nemesis/ about feeling guilty for leaving your children for various reasons, I was reminded of the second and last time that I had to leave my older son for a couple of days and how heartbreaking this can be for a parent as your “mommy guilt” that Deborah explains takes over your every thought.
June 22nd, Not just an ordinary day. No, this day I was induced to have my precious Noah. In fact June was not an ordinary month. Not only were we anxiously awaiting Noah’s arrival, our first son Nicholas was only a couple of days from turning 3 on June 26th. I was prepared to have the boys share a birthday party every year; I was excited for that actually as a cost saver. But I wasn’t prepared to almost miss Nicholas’s 3rd birthday. It’s not like he fully understood his birthday yet, but this is where the mommy guilt creeps in, and squeezes your heart, and whispers stories into your ears about all the things your child is missing, and what if this, and what if that. I felt like he was being cheated out of a million dollars. We had given him an early June birthday party, but plainly we didn’t go all out like we had the prior two years. Mentally and physically I was exhausted at my 9th month of being pregnant, It was summer, I had worked full-time, and I worried that Noah was going to come along early. My mind was there but standing in the distance, out of sight. I am sure at almost 3 years old Nick was fully satisfied with his birthday party, but again that guilt crept in and pulled at my heart-strings.
In walks the preparation guilt. We tried to prepare Nick about our stay at the hospital when his baby brother was to be born. We were very lucky that Grammy Vatral was able to come and stay with Nick during this time. Nick adores his Grammy and this seemed to please him. He seemed to understand as much as his 3-year-old mind could allow for, so we hoped for a smooth transition. When we received the word that I was to be induced, of course my heart and mind were flooded with so many happy and sad thoughts, and of course “guilt” was present, poking her pointy shoes at my eyes; release the floods. We had talked through our every step and routine with Nick that day as much as possible. We were reassuring Nicholas that Grammy was going to take great care of him, and she and him would have so much fun together. And when his baby brother was born daddy would come home to get him so he could meet his baby Noah. This day was a little bit harder for Nick. He was excited, but also showing his separation anxiety. I remember after Eric’s mom arrived we sat on the couch to go over routines and just talk about the baby coming, and in walks Nicholas still looking so much like my little baby, still growing into his little body with his beautiful wide brown eyes, carrying his little Toy Story metal lunchbox filled with a shirt, underwear, and a pair of socks. “I’m ready to go mommy” Nicholas so confidently said.
He started welling up with tears and stuck out his gorgeous red pouty lips “But I want to come too.”
Telling myself to be strong, how do you not cry when your child is breaking your heart. I reassured him that as soon as Noah was born he could come and see his baby brother and mommy. I just held him and it was time to go. We had to leave for the hospital. I thought quickly about what would make him happy and entertain him so we could slip out of the house. I told him Grammy would be happy to pull out the playdoe and play with him, he shot right up with excitement. He no longer worried about us leaving, or about his packed overnight lunchbox. No, he worried about how quickly Grammy could get the palydoe out of the closet. Who knew playdoe would be our saviour that day. Although I admit I felt replaced when he very quickly changed his mind about needing me so badly. It’s crazy how our “mommy” mind works. Needless to say, I pushed guilt to the sidelines knowing Nicky was temporarily happy with playdoe.
The inducement took longer than we had hoped but Noah finally arrived on June 23rd, just 3 days from his big brothers birthday. I was relieved to finally have Noah, as any mother would know at the end of the pregnancy you just want it over. I was anxious to see my new baby’s little face and his features. The whole 9 months you wonder about this little life growing within you. But at the same time I was filled with sadness to leave Nicholas. Filled with guilt that I wasn’t at the house while he slept, that I wasn’t there when he woke. I didn’t want him to feel replaced by his baby brother. Would he know that he is a sparkle in our eyes just as much as his shiny new brother? I feared how much he might miss us while we were away, and we couldn’t just come home to reassure him. And I think most of all I felt horrible for leaving him when his birthday was only days away. Would I be able to go home before his birthday, so that I could be there when he woke, so that I could give him his birthday hug and kiss?
Knowing that I was doing well after Noah’s birth, I was able to be home on Friday the 25th, just in time to celebrate Nicholas’s Birthday the next day. I can never forget the look on Nicholas’s face when he walked into my hospital room with that very same lunchbox, and his wide brilliant brown eyes. He was hesitant to come near me when he saw me laying in the hospital bed, but I coaxed him over to give me a hug and meet his new brother. I saw Nicholas so differently that day. He no longer looked like my little baby that I left with Grammy the night before. He was a little boy, and I was holding his baby brother. I couldn’t believe how much I thought he was still a baby before I left, and how much that day I saw him as a little boy, while he told me about his stay with Grammy, and how much he loved his brother. My heart melted to see that he was just as in love with Noah as we were. And I knew at that moment all that worry was for nothing. Nick was fine, he had a blast with Grammy, and he was so happy to have a new brother for his birthday. And guilt, well she had to crawl back to that dark place that she came from, because the happiness in our lives that day was far to great to worry about the what ifs.