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  • Writer's pictureJen Curtis

The "Happiest Day of your Life"

Can we talk about the idea that the day our child is born is supposed to be the "happiest" day of our lives?

Because that wasn't my experience. And I think it wasn't the experience of many other women... and they think that they are alone.

In fact, I have that on good authority.

I didn't experience this beautiful reunion with my son that was full of bliss and relief and "happiness"

(I have a problem with the idea that we are supposed to be "happy" all the time, there is so much more to life than happiness... but I digress)

After everything I went through in my birth, and it sounds awful to say, I was focused on me.

I was in so much pain and was so bloody traumatized by the whole ordeal and so fucking sleep deprived that I couldn't focus on anything beyond my external body.

Everything I did with regards to him in that first month came from a place of pure survival. Like, somewhere deep in the most subconcious part of my brain that I had to keep this thing alive (and in good health and free of suffering, at least, as free as a newborn can be from suffering, suddenly dragged from the perfect embrace of the womb where every need was met before it was felt - exposed to hunger and cold and heat and aloneness and noise...and someday the harsh realities of life and death and struggle of this world) - that my life as I knew it would end if I let it die. My husband would hate me and leave me and I would be expelled from my community and my family and friends would never look at me in the same way and I would probably kill myself. There's no easy way out of this. Step up or die.

Wow, that was dark. But if you can put your hand on your heart and tell me you never had scary thoughts after having a baby, you're either a liar or a saint.

Obviously, I didn't actually think it out like that. It was like a primal, animal instinct, like the need to drink water when you're thirsty, eat when you're hungry or scratch an itch.

And it scared the shit out of me.

That drive will push you through any pain, any discomfort, any amount of exhaustion.

I remember breastfeeding in those first couple of weeks. The latch was so incredibly painful, I couldn't find a single position that wasn't as painful AF, he was often pressing against my belly and scar.

But I did it anyway, and I would have put myself through much more pain to make sure his needs were met.

(Although combo feeding and allowing my husband and MIL and father to take a "mother" role, or to mother me, from time to time, made this somewhat more manageable)

That first month, nothing came from a place of love and adoration for him. It just came from that drive. That animal, cold, matter-of-fact, life-and-death, instinct.