It’s Fall! For the rest of the world this season is heralded by the changing leaves, chilly morning air, and pumpkin everythaaaang. Once upon a time the arrival of Autumn meant the same thing for me, but mamas of November babies have an additional reason to be excited for this season. As the air cooled this year I was reminded of how painfully pregnant but palpably excited I was at this time last year as I waddled around in the crisp sunshine or walked in the park under the changing foliage, trying in vain to get comfortable on the hard wooden benches down by the water. I spent the majority of the third trimester in a daze, daydreaming about what my daughter would look like and when she would arrive. Seeing the first Halloween display in a shop window one day jolted me into the reality that my due date was only weeks away and we would be welcoming Hennie James into our world soon.
We had our babe in early November and winter came shortly after. Everyone told me to enjoy each season for what it was, to savour every moment and not take anything for granted, but we struggled. The busy-ness of Christmas filled me with anxiety as invitations to parties and family events filled our calendar. We weren’t able to control our baby’s constant crying at home so what made anyone think we wanted to troubleshoot that unstoppable, shrill screaming in front of others? I felt bumbling, inexperienced, embarrassed, and exhausted, and I was as much of a hermit as I could get away with.
As we eased into Autumn this year I noticed a dread building slowly in the back of my mind. So many times I found myself saying to Tom, “I feel so anxious and I don’t know why.” Usually I’m able to pinpoint the reasons for my anxiety when it surfaces but this time I wasn’t been able to locate precisely what was causing it until we had the first cool Fall day and I suddenly realized… it’s this season. My body was recalling the lingering PTSD I felt from that Fourth Trimester. Her colic, coupled with long months spent waiting to hear from cardiologists and medical geneticists, made for a very miserable fall and winter last year indeed. We did not know how severe her heart condition would be, we had not yet received any answers about her diagnosis, and I did not savour every moment. I wished many of them away and I don’t regret it; some nights all that kept my spirits up was the knowledge that it would pass, the promise from other colic-mama’s that she would outgrow the screaming. I have zero patience for Mama Guilt so I respect that I did what I needed to do mentally and I humbly foster the hope that I will always remember to be that gentle on myself and on other struggling mamas.
While we still have many parenting challenges ahead – those looming toddler years! – most days are so much fun. All of a sudden this season is no longer one of PTSD for me, it’s one that I can see through the eyes of a child who notices with delight as each leaf falls to the boardwalk down by the river, who watches the squirrels in the park with distrust and wonder. Experiencing it all for the first time through her eyes is slowly erasing the memories of last year’s colicky trauma. Letting go of that experience has not been an easy one for our family but we are moving forward and loving every minute. So whether it’s 20 degrees like last weekend or -1 like today, bring on the pumpkin patches, tweed, apple cider, Halloween, hayrides, breweries (obvi), even snow… this year we are going to savour every moment!