Friday, June 10, 2011


It's my second daughter's first birthday today. I feel joyful and proud. We'll celebrate with loving family on Sunday (only my maternal aunt and cousins on my side, yay!) and I can't wait for everyone to shower my baby with attention and love.

But I also feel so desperately guilty when I remember my first daughter's first birthday. The little I do remember. I was suffering from depression and nothing made any sense and there seemed to be no reason to celebrate anything. Sure, we had a birthday party. I just remember feeling out of place around all these happy people. I don't think I took any photos. In fact, there are very few pictures of my daughter's first year of life. Very, very few memories in my mind too. Just one long, dark, gray, hollow, bleak day.

I didn't use to feel guilty about my postpartum depression. I used to think I did the best I could to be a good mom to my child, depression notwithstanding. But now I know that the most basic, most fundamental piece was missing in her early childhood. The joyful love of her mother. I did feel some love towards her, although I blocked it and denied it out of "honesty". It was a sad, desperate love, full of pity towards my poor child who got stuck with a mom like me, a cold, selfish person incapable of warmth and nurturing.

I know the difference now. And I try to make up for it now. But I can never bring back those years. I just have to hope for the best. I have to stop doing the ACON thing where, if I haven't done something perfectly, it's over and ruined and I messed up my Big Girl for life and nothing I ever do can make it all right now and I might as well give up trying. No. I'll just keep doing the best I know how and hope and pray she'll be a strong, secure child who knows she's loved and worthy of love.


  1. Happy birthday!

    You know, I worry about this too. I have much the same experience with my first child. While I was not depressed, I was in the throws of PTSD and actually have very little memory of her first year. I nursed, wore her, and had her with me all the time, so nothing physically missed in her life. But I was not present, and I only started feeling that real, deep, authentic love when I started really healing, which is around the time my second was born.

    Now, things keep on getting better. Finally, I am honest with myself. It is true that those first years will never come back, and it might even be true that our parenting or feelings negatively impact our kids. But you have given yourself, and her, an amazing gift in setting out on your healing journey. You are there now. YOU are there now, not the robot. If you were not there now, feeling guilty about that first year, all her childhood might have been like that first year.

    You are doing amazing. I'm not just saying that for the sake of it, because it's the right thing to say - it is true. You are not just doing amazing generally, but especially when you think of the horrible legacy you carry with you.

  2. You are making great strides. Yes, I apologized to my children for my inabilities as a mother. They are all adults now and they are far more forgiving of me than I am to myself. The greatest compliment I received was when my daughter told me that I was a great example of not giving up on myself. Right now you are in the early stages. Results come much later. Teen years are another time of great know how to be there for them know. It will make such a difference.

  3. "But I can never bring back those years. I just have to hope for the best."

    I so know that feeling! I also was depressed and couldn't bond with my older son. I got over it right before he turned 1. He is 5 now and every time I look back at his first year, I feel so guilty and ashamed.

  4. I made many mistakes with my now-grown children, and I always admitted that to them while they were growing up. They respected me for that and knew that I loved them no matter what. It created a closeness with them that is uncompared. Admitting when we are wrong but still establishing parental authority and control (within reason, of course) is essential. My kids have their issues but as they continue to mature they really get I did the very best I could, and they know that no matter what I adore them and am interested in them and want them to be successful and happy. That is all that matters IMO! I made some doozy mistakes and yeah, we can't bring back those years, but we can change the present and the future.

    I think you are right to write about your feelings and doubts about yourself. It shows you are alive and thoughtful and wanting to do better. Kudos to you!


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