What It Feels Like to Be an Invisible Mother
For 2 entire months, I didn’t go anywhere except the hospital to visit the boys in the NICU and home… with a stop at a gas station or two along the way, of course. But I mean really go anywhere on purpose.
Going “outside” to me was visiting the hospital cafeteria or Starbucks (also located in the hospital, lol).
On June 14th, on day 50 of being in the NICU, I went to London Drugs to pickup a photo order. I got a print of the first time my husband held each of our boys to frame as a gift for Father’s Day.
This quick errand felt monumental. The simple task of planning it was overwhelming. I calculated how long it would take and worried about being away from the hospital. I knew I was being silly but I also felt so ODD going out into the world as an invisible mother.
By then I’d lost all the baby weight (as long as you don’t see my side profile…🙈) and you wouldn’t know I had two 8 week old babies. Or you’d think maybe I like a Happy Meal or two. I felt horrible going out without them. Not that anyone could tell I didn’t have my kids, but I just felt bad.
I felt LESS THAN.
Part of the reason I’ve avoided going out, other than not wanting to be anywhere other than with my boys, is the fear of seeing healthy babies and moms. It’s horrible because clearly I’m glad they’re healthy, but it does make me jealous and sad. I don’t like that it does, but it does.
I was focused on picking up the gift and forgot about this. I walked up to the photo area line and immediately in front of me was a young mom, dressed in stylish yoga clothes with a car seat on the ground. I looked away… straight over to another woman with a car seat on the ground and her baby in her arms as it was being a bit fussy and she was soothing it.
I had to stand there in line to achieve my goal of picking up the gift. To my surprise, I almost cried. I didn’t know I felt so strongly about it. It was pretty torturous and I think about it even now, two weeks later.
I avoided small talk with the cashier, who probably thought I was just being rude. Little did they know I was trying to keep my shit together and also, I’ve become pretty socially awkward by not seeing anyone in months. I’ve been alone most of the time since March when my pregnancy had me pretty much housebound. And now I barely even see my husband during the week as he had to return to work, and I don’t get home from the hospital until late when he’s already sleeping.
As I was driving to the hospital after picking up the photo, I realized I’ll never be the same person again. I still crack jokes, I am still positive sometimes, but there is a bone-deep sadness in me now. I hope that goes away with time and once my boys are home and growing. Although, with their ongoing medical issues, I know I’m going to continue being a worrywart and anxious mess.
I know I’m different because of all of this experience (not just from becoming a mom).
I’m not better, not worse, just very different.
All I know is I won’t be going out anywhere else for a long time. Possibly until my boys are home… It’s just too hard.