When I was pregnant, I was told that after I had my baby I would gradually forget about the pain of childbirth. But the funny thing is, I still remember every detail: all of the excruciating contractions, every gallon of sweat, each “I can’t do this!” of my seven hour (natural) labour and birth. But there are things I forget about the early days of motherhood, and sometimes, I feel downright terrible about it.
I forget how to hold a baby properly. When it’s your kid, you don’t think twice about holding them. You don’t worry that you’re not supporting their head or that they’re in an uncomfortable position. I remember holding my two-month-old baby in one arm while doing “tree pose” during mom and baby yoga, and not giving it a second thought. But now, when someone hands me a baby, I feel awkward. How is it possible that I spent the equivalent of months with a baby in my arms and now I can’t remember what it felt like?
I forget what my daughter looked like. I mean, of course I know what she looks like…now. But I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what she looked like when she was a baby. Even looking at baby pictures is strange…I know that it’s her in the photos, but it just seems so surreal that she was ever so small. On the rare occasion, when I go in to check on her before I go to bed, I’ll see her sleeping face and I’ll get a flashback of the moment she was born, seeing her tightly closed eyes and pouty lips for the first time. But then it is gone.
I forget that being on mat leave wasn’t always a joyride. I often look back and wistfully remember days filled with long walks, playdates, coffee shops, and mommy friends. What I don’t think about is the boredom, the constant vigilance, the longing for adult interaction, the stress of spending an hour trying to put baby down for a 30-minute nap just so I could have a moment to sit and eat lunch.
There are a whole lot of things that I forget, from what it feels like to breastfeed (how could I have spent a year doing something for a few hours a day and completely forget how it feels?), to what it felt like holding my daughter’s hands as she learned to walk, to what her little voice sounded like as she spoke her first words. Forgetting all of that makes me sad, like I’m a terrible mom for not being able to freeze those moments in my mind forever.
So I wonder, am I alone? Do you forget things too? And if so, do you feel guilty about it??