I really wish that I could tell you that I’m getting used to this new face of mine, that this situation is getting easier to live with, that I’m doing okay. But the truth is that it’s getting harder, not easier. I’m getting more discouraged, more frustrated, more depressed, not less. Every morning I wake up and I hope I’ll see some kind of improvement, and I don’t. It hasn’t been a week yet, everyone reminds me. It’s too soon, they say. But they aren’t the ones with the half-frozen face.
It really surprises me how much of my identity was wrapped up in my face. I thought I’d grown past that. But I don’t recognize myself anymore. I look in the mirror and there is a stranger looking back at me. A sad, lonely stranger. I am grieving for my lost smile, the ease with which I once sipped soup from a spoon or bit into an apple. I can’t wear my contacts anymore because my left eye doesn’t close all the way and dries out too quickly. I feel lost and terribly alone.
A week ago I felt great, everything was great, I was happy, I was so excited to meet my baby girl that I was actually hoping she’d be born before her due date. I couldn’t wait to experience labor, birth, then hold her in my arms. Now, when I have a particularly intense Braxton Hicks contraction, I weep and beg her not to come because I can’t bear the thought of bringing her into this world when my head is so fucked up and my heart aches so much.
Then I hate myself because really, I’m so terribly vain. And selfish. Things could be so much worse. I am so lucky. I am healthy. Everyone I love is healthy. I’m surrounded by people who love and support me. My little girl is developing beautifully. Nothing is wrong with her. I look weird, that is all. Get over it already.
I wish I was a better person. I wish I didn’t care so much. I wish I had enough self-confidence that I could hold my head up high and grin my lop-sided sneer of a grin and not give a fuck what anyone thought and not think anything bad about myself. But it just hurts. I don’t even know how my husband can stand to look at me. He didn’t sign up for this, I tell myself. And yet here he is, stuck with a disfigured wife.
He keeps telling me I’m beautiful but I just feel like he’s lying.
And I feel like I’m failing my baby. My feelings, my emotions, every sob and gasp filters through me and into her. I’ve destroyed her peaceful nest in my womb, poisoned her with all my self-hatred and fear. She hasn’t been born yet and I’m already letting her down.
I made a video. So you can see what I look like now. So I can look back later, perhaps with a little more self-love, and remember what this felt like, what I really looked like. Maybe I’ll think it wasn’t that bad. Maybe it will improve. Maybe it will be permanent. Maybe I’ll heal completely. Maybe I won’t. There’s no way to know. But somehow I have to figure out how to love myself like this, how to be okay like this, I have to get my head on straight and remember what’s important and count my blessings and get ready for this little girl to be born because she could be here tomorrow and she needs a mama who isn’t a complete fucking wreck. She deserves that at least.