Motherhood takes over our souls with a flowing stream of overwhelming emotions. These emotions range from indescribable happiness that causes your heart to open so wide it might burst from a slight glance of your baby’s first sleep smile to tiresome endless nights endured during the long months of teething. The full stream floods our emotions often in the early weeks of pregnancy.
I anticipated for the moment when that little line turned pink my entire life. I was overcome by anxiousness, ecstatic joy, and most of all thankfulness. I had spent the past eight years suffering from unbearable pain from endometriosis and pelvic pain. The uncertainty of my ability to bear children was always trapped in the back of my mind, but the day had finally come. After only four short but had felt like four unbelievable long months of trying to conceive, I had received the blessing I had always imagined.
Within the first couple of days of receiving the news of my ultimate joy I was overcome by a feeling I had not anticipated; guilt. Unfortunately, this nasty often unshakable feeling sticks with us throughout motherhood.
Guilt began to consume my happiness as I lay restless in bed every night. I thought of all the other women who are still waiting to receive the news they had been waiting for, and for the women who have to meet their babies in heaven instead of a hospital. The root of my despair was my feeling of unworthiness which is a feeling I still struggle with as we have two beautiful, healthy children now.
The particular feeling, I was experiencing was survivers guilt. It is the defined as the guilt an individual feels when you survive an event someone hasn’t.
Apparently, this typically occurs after a catastrophic event has transpired not after hearing the most exciting news of your life. Women can also feel this way after experiencing a miscarriage. We are surrounded by a world full of endless comparisons. We even compare our pain to others who have or haven’t experienced an event.
My sense of guilt was something I wanted to downplay and certainly not share. I was embarrassed and ashamed to feel sadness at such a joyous time. An important notion that all women need to acknowledge is, only you can determine your range of emotions and those emotions are as relevant and significant as anyone else’s. To downplay or ignore your emotions during pregnancy and motherhood can only lead to further guilt and intensify negative feelings. Often the most appropriate time to talk to someone about your despair is when you’re most hesitant.
Perhaps the ugliest of feelings such as guilt can be trees that bear fruit. As motherhood progresses, we must remember to possess an endless flow of empathy for the invisible struggles and burdens that can engulf all of us.
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