Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On why I almost left.

I almost left Belle back in January. Doctors, nurses and social workers were on my case about Belle not gaining enough weight despite my best breastfeeding efforts. To make matters worse, I had participated in social drinking (without blacking out or engaging in risky sex, I must add) and sushi eating when not conscious of my pregnancy. Certain agencies wondered if I was truly fit to raise a child ("Just because you're old enough to have a child, doesn't mean you should!"). When allowed to leave Belle momentarily to fetch myself some clothes from home, I wondered if I would be allowed back in. In the midst of this uncertainty, I considered walking away to save myself and Belle. Belle wasn't thriving on my breast milk anyway. I strongly detested, and even feared, her father. That relationship had long ended. I had no grandparents, aunts or uncles to surround her with. I wasn't prepared for her, nor did I feel deserving of her, at all.

I didn't walk away from Belle. I weathered the storm, literally and figuratively (It stormed the entire weekend of Belle's hospitalisation.). I faced what seemed like endless questioning from people in authority on why I hadn't sought prenatal care, why I didn't know I was pregnant and why Belle wasn't gaining enough weight on breast milk alone. Add to this my parents' murder/suicide, my maternal grandmother's harsh nurturing in light of her daughter's murder and my failed romantic relationships, and I felt like a complete failure at life. I let the walls close in on me during Belle's hospitalisation for four long nights. Because this was a children's unit, food for me, a breastfeeding mom, was not guaranteed. I had no one at home to bring me any food or to otherwise do anything for me. I settled for whatever scraps the nurses could arrange for me on a tray. I also settled for harsh words and unkind treatment because I didn't have parents, grandparents or a man around to advocate or support me in any way. If there was any karmic debt owed, I sure paid it that weekend.

I am very lucky to have Belle in my life today. She is an active and healthy 16 week old, if not petite. I see myself and her father in her. I also see shades of my parents and grandparents. I wish we were surrounded by these special people. I wish, like my new girlfriends with babies, that I had chosen a good man to serve as both husband to me and father to Belle. I attribute witnessing my parents' murder/suicide as a five year old to my questionable romantic choices as a thirty-five year old. The domestic violence I witnessed from zero to five left its imprint on me, especially my mother's murder. I remember breaking down in tears as a seven year old on the afternoon of the wedding of a family friend. I had come to associate marriage with violent death. I decided this young woman was too beautiful to be murdered by her new husband. I refused to bear witness to what I knew would be her undoing. I decided that day that I wanted no part of marriage. It didn't help matters that both sets of my grandparents had divorced. My maternal grandmother, who raised me, daily preached the horrors of marriage, child rearing and other intimate relationships once my puberty started. I was given Barbie dolls and other material delights even through my teens to curb typical teen development and dating.

Marriage, children, and the creation of a solid and stable home were not encouraged or supported in the households I grew up in. I truly had nothing to look forward to when I found myself turning twenty-three years old, having outlived my parents and grandparents. I had absolutely no idea how I could possibly rebuild my family, or even if I should. You bet I made mistakes in the twelve and a half years before I had Belle! I surrounded myself with people who did not respect, support or understand me at all. None of my romantic relationships were ever geared toward longevity, especially not my relationship with Belle's father. It may have looked promising in the beginning, but it had no staying power whatsoever. This all came to a head the moment of Belle's birth.

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