Oh no, not this feeling again.
My chest moved up and down with dry heaves. I used my hand as a salve to stop the panting. I felt ill. It was only the first trimester, week seven. The morning sickness moved like a rock band, only this music wasn’t something I could dance to. I felt lucky to have an opportunity to embrace this new life, but the tug and pull between life and death became something I was unequipped to reconcile. I now harbored two secrets: my father’s Stage IIIB cancer and my pregnancy.
In the early days of my pregnancy, a certain amount of guilt accompanied me. As much as I wanted to celebrate life, my mind gravitated toward thoughts of my father and the hollow look in his eyes. When I talked to him about the baby, his face expressed the correct gestures, smiles, even laughter, but I knew something was missing. I wondered if my father felt a sense of abandonment by watching me move forward.
The path to motherhood rocked with complication and ambivalence. As I anticipated the arrival of my little girl, I mourned, a slow, gradual loss of my father. Each month I grew closer to giving birth to my daughter, it meant witnessing the decline of my father's health.
I needed a way to work through the transition of my different selves and reconciling how to celebrate and mourn at once. When my father died, I struggled to find a place for my grief to land. Talking to other people felt too empty and as much as people tried to empathize, they couldn't understand the depth of my grief.
My balm became writing.
I wrote to mourn all of the everyday moments with my father. The trips to the pick out my favorite donut or when he helped me with a complicated math problem.
I wrote to mourn the transition of losing a parent and becoming a mother at the same time.
I wrote to celebrate all the firsts with my daughter: the way her lips appeared bright pink when she yawned, how her hands clasped together, and her reaction to her first lick of chocolate ice cream.
I wrote to make peace with my guilt.
I wrote to give myself permission to grieve my father and celebrate the birth of my daughter.
I wrote to find refuge, to navigate the transitions, and to honor my mother-self.
We are ending our After Page One series. Thanks to everyone who has contributed in the past to our motherhood series. We enjoyed hearing your stories about writing and the intersection of motherhood and filling our Mondays with heartfelt, vulnerable words.