Thursday, September 2, 2010

Partial memories

I’ve decided the biggest reason I don’t remember Meg’s first year as well as other years is that most of my experiences that year heavily involved emotions. You can’t ever recreate the emotion, so its hard to remember what it was like. Before having Meg, most of the stuff we did wasn’t big emotional stuff. I remember several vacations very well. They were a lot of fun, but not incredibly moving experiences. I remember the workout classes I used to take. I remember movies we went to, places we ate, and going to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. All good things, but not life-changing. Having a baby is life-changing and incredibly emotional – good and bad.

There was one point when Meg was about 6 weeks old, I think, and I thought “This is it. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die of exhaustion right now. Its so sad I won’t live to see her sleep through the night.” I remember a lot about that moment. I remember I was standing in the church hallway (in maternity clothes), holding the infant seat, trying to stay awake, and kind of dreading an hour of church in which I’d have to act like I could still comprehend what the pastor was saying and would probably have to breastfeed partway through the service while trying not to flash my family. So I “remember” the moment, but I don’t remember the emotion. It makes the memory seem flat and one-dimensional instead of a full memory. There’s something missing when I try to remember it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I don’t remember what it was like to not get more than 3 hours of consecutive sleep for six weeks straight. But I also don’t really, fully remember what it was like to hold my baby for the first time or see her crawl or walk for the first time. I can describe what it felt like, but, again, it feels flat, like a description in a book. I also have fewer memories overall, probably because I was so sleep-deprived.  I only remember the times of intense emotion (like, I'm going to DIE if I don't get some sleep), instead of the everyday things I remember from other years. And while I can remember those emotional experiences, the emotion itself is gone, so the memory is “fuzzy.” A lot of the time after she was born was defined by emotion, so without the emotion there’s not much left.

So, like I wrote about yesterday, I thought I’d be able to remember what it felt like to rock an itty-bitty baby of my own and miss that feeling enough to desperately want another one. But I don’t. I do want another one, but I want a baby in the same abstract way I did when I wanted Meg. I thought it would be different, having been through it and knowing what it felt like. But its not, because I don't remember what it felt like. Maybe its because the “next baby” is purely theoretical at this point. I suppose when we do have another baby, the feelings will all come back to me.  But as soon as that child grows out the baby stage, I'll forget again.

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