The constant buzzing sound was making it impossible to concentrate on my book. Our furnace was on the fritz again, and the warmth from the tiny electric heater did little to knock the chill from the air. It put off a musty smell that made my stomach turn, but the cold November rain coming down outside made it impossible to go without. I glanced out the window and pulled my feet up under me. It just looked miserable out there. I think maybe if it had been sunny, my attitude could have followed. I don’t even think I can blame it on the fact that I was a teenager and hormonal. At a certain point you have to admit that it’s just your personality.
I stared down at my growing belly peeking out of my boyfriend’s favorite t-shirt. I hadn’t been able to squeeze into one of mine for months. New stretch marks seemed to appear by the day, and our baby boy was taking his time wreaking havoc on my tiny frame. He was almost two weeks overdue. So was the rent. Maybe he knew we weren’t ready. Maybe he could sense that we were holding down three jobs between us and still couldn’t make ends meet. Maybe he was learning to recognize my voice, but all he heard in it was self-doubt. He probably heard us talk about the shit hole apartment we were living in and thought it just wasn’t a party he was looking to join.
I would spend many of the next few days worrying like that. My doctor finally took pity on me and ripped my mama’s boy from my womb. He was absolutely perfect and I was left with a large souvenir in the form of a scar across my once perfect stomach. It made my now unrecognizable tattoo seem like it may have been a bad choice for an 18th birthday gift to myself. Getting pregnant at 19 probably wasn’t the most responsible option either come to think of it.
I brought that bundle of joy home and I spent the next few weeks staring out that dirty apartment window, my thoughts still mirroring the gray winter days laid out in front of me. I wish I could say he warmed my heart and filled me with joy. I knew he was supposed to. Eventually he would, of course, but at first that wasn’t the case.
Becoming a mom didn’t come naturally for me. Cursing came naturally. So did calculus and climbing trees. I’m determined and I’m a quick study, but creating and caring for another human was not in my repertoire. I struggled. Our son came into this world and turned it upside down. I was going to school and working. He wouldn’t sleep. I tried and gave up breastfeeding, which made me feel like a complete failure. I spent my days staring into the face of this perfect little being and feeling sheer terror. Not everyone enjoys the newborn phase. It certainly wasn’t my favorite. Was there magic? Of course. I was simply too exhausted to really feel it. I was just surviving. In a matter of months I had gone from a carefree college freshman to a young mother, and everything was suddenly different. The chemistry in my brain was completely out of whack.
I’m fairly certain now that what I was dealing with was a bout of baby blues, as I heard it called at the time. It wasn’t until our son was four or five months old that I began to breathe again. I could finally unwind my spine and relax. It was like waking up from a deep sleep. I worried less about what I couldn’t give him and started focusing on what I did have to offer. I looked at motherhood and the long and difficult road ahead and I chose to just lean in.