Disappointment

The carnival is back in town and this week we’re reflecting on….. disappointment!  Sounds like a carnival, no?  😉

I’ve had the theme rolling around in my head since it was announced last week.  Disappointment.  Not the easiest thing for me to write about.  Outside of my comfort zone you might say.  I make an effort not to spend too much energy entertaining disappointment.  Of course I get disappointed about lots of things, but most of those things are pretty ridiculous.  Everyday bummers along the lines of “Why didn’t my wife sound pleased to hear from me when I called her out of the blue at work?” or “Man I spent an hour making that pumpkin soup and it tastes like an orange bowl of nothing.”.

My efforts not to dwell on these kinds of feelings works well when I’ve wasted the afternoon on a boring soup.  It’s a strategy that isn’t quite as effective when it comes to more meaningful and significant disappointments.  Although it continues to be true that at some point (and who knows when that point will come) you do have to move on and let go, there are disappointments that demand to be felt deeply.  To be acknowledged and not brushed aside.

In all of my baby-related experiences so far, my most significant disappointment came during Yogi’s first weeks.  More than a year later it’s still hard to write that.  I’m pretty sure it boils down to one thing.

It wasn’t what I expected.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile you won’t be surprised to hear me say that I’m a planner.  I think ahead.  I prepare myself.  It’s what I do in every situation.  It took us five tries to get Yogi and one of those tries resulted in a chemical pregnancy.  I would never tell you that those negative tests weren’t disappointing and sad and, in the moment totally devastating.  But….. I was ready for them.  I was the poster child for “This is going to take awhile/We’re in this for the long term/It’s not up to us to say when”.  These kinds of chants began months before we even did our first IUI.  I was ready to struggle for our baby.

I WAS.NOT ready to morph into an alternately depressed and hostile zombie after my son was born.  It’s still hard for me to believe that I felt the way I did.  Only weeks before he arrived I had cried (a bit embarrassing actually) on the hospital tour when we visited the nursery.  There was a tiny boy in the window and looking at that little guy filled me with the kind of joy and excitement that is hard to contain.  I didn’t even know that kid.

So, what I expected was immediate attachment, pervasive bliss and head over heels love.  Yeah, I guess it was a set-up from the start.  What I got was life at a distance.  That is the only way I have to describe that time.  I was there, but I wasn’t there.  There were really lovely moments of warmth and affection, but those moments were not the norm.  Mostly I was tired, annoyed with every visitor we had and permanently braced for the next round of crying.  I felt like the maid.  My wife’s immediate attachment to Yogi also made me feel disconnected from her.  It was really ugly.

It was also a blur.  I don’t really remember it and what I do remember looks the way I’ve described.  That is the most disappointing part – I feel like I missed our first few weeks with Yogi.

Read the next post in the carnival here.

You can also visit the Carnival blog for a full listing of participants.

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8 thoughts on “Disappointment

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I have looked back over conversations I had with parent friends before Tadpole was born, and wondered if they could have told me anything that would have prepared me for the craziness that was the first few months. It's just a crazy-hard time. There's the sleep deprivation, the inconsolable crying, and having one's life turned upside-down. I really wasn't prepared for how tough it would be, and I think that's partly because I didn't see folks sharing their stories as honestly as you have. So thanks.

  2. I think it's so important for this experience to be out there for people to hear about. There's all this pressure for this amazing bonding moment and for a lot of people it's just not there. This leads to all kinds of self-doubt. It's so important to know you're not alone.

    BTW, I think Yogi and Zivia might be very close in age – she was born August 23rd!!!

  3. I worry about that so much with my partner. Since I'm carrying and with my eggs – I worry that she will need some time to adjust, to realize this baby is also hers and she will be mother as well. I thank you for sharing this because it is something that can truly happen for some many reasons but so glad to hear that it's a distant memory.

  4. I had a similar experience…had been hoping and planning and excited to have a child. But then once he came home with us, it was like I was in some kind of altered state of alienation, isolation, and sleeplessness. It's not that there weren't MANY amazing moments, snuggled with a tiny baby in the dead of winter. It's just that nothing had prepared me for the labor and loss of self that occurs when attending to a newborn around the clock for weeks and months. And of course, it was all made worse because I felt horrible for not being simply content that we had a baby. It didn't help that, in trying to adopt, we had 4-6 weeks in the beginning when our son's birth mother could have called at any time to say she changed her mind and wanted him back. Fortunately she didn't. I'm more used to interrupted sleep now, and thinking the second time around might be easier if only because I know better that's it's lovely and amazing…AND lots of hard work like none other… Thanks for sharing your experience!
    -Josh

  5. Thank you for this. I feel like expectations are such a set up, and I know that in the past mine have stopped me from noticing the good when it falls short of (or appears altogether different from) what I expected. It's of more help than I can say to read this level of honesty, and to readjust what I want and need out of our first weeks with Rabbit. This is sincerely a service post. R.

    P.S. “An orange bowl of nothing” has now become the go-to term in our house for describing mild disappointment. As in: “I was really looking forward to that essay, but it's kind of an orange bowl of nothing.” Or: “WOW! That was so NOT an orange bowl of nothing!” It's pretty terrific.

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