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This month's bonus blog post is by guest blogger, Kristi Kline, RD. You can find her on Facebook at The Toxin Free RD.
Survivor's Guilt. It’s a thing.
I’ve grown close to people struggling to have babies. I’ve mourned their losses with them. I’ve related to their darkest days. I’ve been challenged to connect with them as the path of our journeys split. When things go well for you but not them, and vice versa, it’s hard to navigate.
Survivor's Guilt isn’t just about external relationships or those around you and what they’re going through. It can be a very internal guilt as well. I’ve struggled for so long. The journey has been so long. Why isn’t the other side of it eternal bliss ? Because it’s not. Because parenting is HARD. Maintaining a household, a marriage, the laundry, dishes, life, money, etc. is hard.
When you get to the top of the mountain after a long ass difficult journey, the view may be gorgeous and you’re filled with gratitude but you’re still tired. You’re beat down. You still have to make it all the way back, and that’s work too, and that will take time.
When we had our photographer come for newborn photos I had our outfits picked out and some ideas for what photos I wanted for our first shoot as a family of four. I was beyond grateful by the time she was done that she’s not a videographer because Charlotte wore me down hard. Everyone wants to know if she’s loving being a big sister. The answer is no. She doesn’t love it all the time. Why would she? This helpless, loud little human arrived in her world and takes the attention away from her at times, and if anyone knows my Charlotte- she’s got an opinion about that. Everyone asks me how I’m doing, and I’m like “Oh, I’m good, just ya know, feeling like I’m recovering physically from a train wreck, and dealing with a little toddler with big feelings who won’t listen to a single thing I say (aka sorry in advance for her behavior).”
This picture right here, is the one that stands out to me the most in all the photos. We look tired. We look weary. The baby is crying. We’re willing him to stop with our minds. Charlotte is pretending to care at the moment. Brian and I are for sure ready to snap at her at a moment's notice to stop doing whatever it is she shouldn’t be doing like throwing her full body weight on the baby. These are the moments that will be here and gone and eventually forgotten because they can be so darn shitty. Once you come out of the woods you just stuff these emotions and memories down down down. Thankfully the sleep deprivation makes the memories foggy anyway. Did I mention our toddler also doesn’t sleep through the night?
There’s something so beautifully chaotic about the newborn stage, of everyone learning each other and the new rhythm of adapting to become a family of 4. I was so desperately done with being pregnant emotionally but I fully admitted I had no idea what this was going to feel like once he was here. It’s not eternal bliss. It’s hard. And that’s okay. I offer myself grace. If you ask me, my scripted response is “One day, one hour at a time.” A picture like this, a big sister, a new baby, it’s something I only dreamed about. I knew what it would look like but I could only imagine what I would feel like. I’m soaking it all up with gratitude and grace; the good, the bad, the chaos, the calm. I'm happy to be here. It’s going too fast and too slow all at the same time and I’m sure to miss it.