I’m a shameless, unrepentant Facebook user. A tab with Facebook is always open in my browser, and if I’m away from my keyboard I’ll still check on my phone. It makes me laugh to look at funny memes and silly lists. I love being in contact with my friends and family across the world. And I’m always excited to use it as a resource for sharing information on maternal mental health.
One Facebook feature is a double edged sword for me, like I expect it is for many people: Facebook Memories.
While I was pregnant, it reminded me of my life before; late nights out with friends, drinking until silly, and crashing on couches. They always gave me a good laugh and a smile, even when I was pictured in an outfit I never expected to wear again after pregnancy.
Now, there are some memories that appear that are decidedly beautiful and difficult. The images of my hospital stay, and those weeks of Nicu-baby photos, my tiny Ben swathed in the myriad wires and tubes that fed and monitored him. The glassy-eyed photos of myself, smiling and beatific on the surface, while I vibrated with frightening intensity inside, having returned to this place of trauma once again.
And the many photos of my sweet baby, growing to the chubby-cheeked infant he was supposed to be, pacifier dwarfing his pixie face.
I do not remember taking many of those photos. I was too terrified, too sleep deprived, too preoccupied with the vicious anxiety that left me impossibly drained. The well-known fog of maternal depression dimmed every moment. I can barely remember his slight weight in my arms, when he could fit easily on my lap or in my hands. Even if I can remember clearly, each memory is tainted with the trauma that went so long unresolved. Was someone coming to visit because I was in a psych ward? Is my nose red in that photo from crying? What pain is lurking behind my eyes, so detached from the smile on my lips?
Sometimes I can look past that distant pain and see the beautiful new mother so many others saw, and the angelic child that was my son. Remember how he barely cried, only when he was in need, and was easily comforted. How he thrived when we came home with him. How sweet his tiny fingers and toes, reaching and curling as he experienced this new universe. How his eyes slipped closed as he nursed. Sometimes I remember that.
I don’t mind that these photos aren’t always easy. They are real and true, an important an influential part of my past, a motivating factor in serving others who follow in my footsteps. I would lead them to an easier path. And if it takes a Facebook reminder, I can work with that.