The other parts of me.

I'm sorry because in my mind, you have existed since the day Constantine was conceived.

Dear Olive,
It's a very strange feeling - loving, hating, fearing and longing for someone, the idea of someone, who doesn't exist. To put aside things I'd like to give you and share with you, and to feel a sickness when I think about you really being here. This is selfish. What woman has ever looked forward to labor? I just don't know if I can do it again and I'm sorry. I'm sorry because in my mind, you have existed since the day Constantine was conceived. I've imagined your voice, your eyes, your hair. I've passed by clothes and imagined you wearing them. I have watched Constantine learn to crawl, to say words, try new foods, and imagined you doing the same.
When we talk about it, he always says that I will eventually want another child, so I can't do anything to my body to prevent it. Because it's messing with God's hand. I do want you, Olive. I would love to hold you and watch Constantine give you kisses and be a proud big brother. But I don't know if I will ever be ready to enter into that again.
During labor, I felt like I was going to die. After Constantine was born, I felt overpowering love, but also terrible, sharp, stinging pain. I know it's cowardly, but I don't think that I will ever want a pregnancy more than I fear both the pain of labor and the damage to my body. I feel like I was robbed. I wanted to want you, to be excited about you, to eagerly anticipate you. And now I am afraid to make you exist. I am realizing that I'm not who I thought I'd be. I had a plan and this was not it and now I don't know how to adjust. I imagined Constantine's peaceful birth and my open-arms welcoming of motherhood. But his birth has left me with so many questions and so much fear. The only sure thing is that I love him with my deepest soul.
But I do not always love this. Sometimes, if I'm honest, I just can't stand the thought of those sleepless nights and the utterly unglamorous matted hair, sunken eyes, washing diaper waste off of my arms after yet another leak, wearing only clothes that I can nurse in, and feeling so suddenly immersed in the world of motherhood that I feel like all the world has forgotten that I ever loved anything else. Although no part of me regrets these things, because I have had a son whose smile restores me every time, I'm scared to do it again. I know I would get through the hard parts and that your precious smile would fill my heart with love. But I'm still afraid. And, I guess, I'm selfish, as well. No small part of me looks forward to Constantine's first day of school, when I can start working again. I don't know how to explain this. I love him so much. But I have been missing the other parts of me. If I continue to have children, will I run out of time? Will I disappear?
Even writing this, I know how selfish it sounds. I know that my life is here, now. I'm a mom. And that's a good thing to be. I love being a mom. I've just been mourning the fading other parts of who I am.

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