Thursday, June 2, 2016

Loneliness of a Young Mother ( A Memoir )

It's a very real fact that many young mothers experience deep periods of loneliness and feelings of isolation. It seems to begin soon after delivery. The excitement of bringing a child into the world, the feelings of wonder and pride, the combined exhaustion and elation of childbirth . . . all fleeting, as reality slips in and baby comes home . . . for the rest of your life.
I remember the apprehensive feelings that came over me after childbirth. Here was my first baby at last in my arms, our child with the whole world out there in front of her and totally dependent on ME . . . to keep her alive right now! I would have dreams that I lost her and would find her days later, starving and near death or I'd dream that I forgot I had a baby and weeks later remember . . . just in time, before she withered away.
Other feelings were flooding me with sadness too at this time when I felt I should be so happy. The first nights without her in my belly strangely brought on waves of melancholy. I was just me again, after 9 months of being and feeling "we". Loneliness engulfed me. I could swear I felt her moving still inside me when I slept, as if she left her little ghost behind and I missed wrapping my arms around my baby belly.
My body took care of her while I was pregnant and protected my baby from the world outside, but now things would be different. Doubt and misgivings were threatening to make me feel unworthy of my new rank and title . . . Mother.
I remember coming home from the hospital in the car with my sleeping little Cherub. As my husband pulled up the driveway, I looked at our front door and let out a deep sigh thinking ~ "Now we'll be a family". I had told my mother-in-law that "No thanks, I won't be needing you to stay with us right now. We need time to bond . . . just the three of us." (a statement I would live to regret). I was now Donna Reed and we were both in love with our new baby girl. Everything would be perfect. After all, the nurse at the hospital assured me that newborns sleep for almost 18 hours a day! LIAR!! We walked into our quiet little lovenest and I laid my little sleepyhead in her cradle thinking, well, let's see, she was just fed and changed a half hour ago before we left the hospital. The nurse said "She'll probably wake up hungry in about 3 hours . . . don't worry, she'll let you know." I have never trusted a nurse again!
My coat was barely off when she started screaming . . . and screaming . . . and screaming! What could be wrong? Could she be wet? Check! Nope! Screaming louder now. She can't be hungry, she just ate! My husband said "Look at her, she's starving! Do something . . . QUICK!" Okay, okay,I thought. Calm down, she's an Italian baby, of course she's hungry! This response was the beginning of my bout with cracked nipples.
Three days later, when I came to realize that I was going to DIE . . . I sheepishly called my unappreciated mother-in-law in desperation, pouring my heart out. She was on the train that afternoon and knocking on my door with her suitcase in one hand and a burping cloth in the other. This was a stellar moment in my life; Mary Poppins was closing her umbrella and marching through the door. "What about the bonding?" she asked with a smile. And I said "To hell with the bonding! Thank God you're here!" Little did that sweet Lady know, she'd become my Mary Poppins four more times over the next seven years! My own mother had passed away long before and I felt stranded and alone out in the boondocks of budding Long Island.
Elvira became a lifeline for me as the years went by, my confidant, my helper . . . the mother and grandmother my family came to cherish. After her retirement, she lived with us till she was 93. Elvira was Mom in every way I could have hoped for and her love is legend still to all our family.
She was family and she helped heal the loneliness of a young mother named

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