That's the emotion that comes to mind when I think about Leah's first few months of life. Followed rather immediately by this one:
It has been nearly four months since I wrote about my anxiety as a new mother. It's funny how time is the great distiller of memories, sometimes revealing things that you didn't necessarily know at the time.
I didn't know how great my anxiety was when I was going through it. I didn't know that I would come to associate such horrible unease with my baby's early months. I didn't know that my joy would be equaled only by my panic and desperate desire for everything to just be okay.
The good news?
I won't say I'm over it. But I am dealing with it, and I think that the desperate edge of my crazy has worn off. I no longer feel the need to obsessively check on Leah every 15 minutes. She has been sleeping in her own bed for nearly three months, thank you very much, and I have even been known - on occassion - to sleep through the night myself. I don't wake up in the middle of the night, paniced because she hasn't.
I have to tell and re-tell myself every day: Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinth. 10:5).
I had to practice literally every day in the beginning. Every single nap. Those visions of what I would do if I walked into her room to find her blue and unresponsive? Take captive every thought. The choking scream that would wrack my body? Take captive every thought. How would I survive it if something were to happen to her? Who would I be? How would I go on? Take captive every thought.
The turning point?
I think watching her get older. Knowing that she is strong. Knowing that she is healthy. Knowing that if she gets herself crammed against the side of the crib, she is not going to suffocate, because she is strong enough to get herself out. It fills me with a sense of peace I simply didn't have before.
Perhaps the fact that "terror" is the second adjective I would use to describe Leah's first months violates that unspoken "Mommy" code we all have to appear to adhere to. Although there are moments of absolute, astounding perfection, navigating motherhood can be difficult, particularly if we're going to sugarcoat it and pretend that it is not also devastating, exhausting and terrifying at times. Reality is rarely sugarcoated.
This place - far from perfection - is one I'm pretty comfortable with.