How my children found the warrior in me
This is my story, my little one amongst the many. It is not unique because every mother carries her own tale, and this is just mine.
I wear the scars of my children.
I realised this five days ago as I lay mostly immobile, and fitted with tubes, stroking the hair of Samson James- cut into this world the morning before. I was feeling good; blissful and light but a little guilty. Guilty that I hadn’t felt this good when his brother Leo Peter had been cut into the world two years ago. Back then I had felt detached, uncomfortable and hurting as my body reacted in shock to the surgery; throbbed with the pain of a half-finished, abscessing root canal and struggled with tiredness.
Aware of the need to not attach and feed negative emotions; I pocketed the guilt. I let it drift to the corner of my mind and focussed instead on the beauty of my new limpet child until memory caught up with me.
I remembered two years ago, I remembered being amongst the crisp white sheets, amongst the pain and the mild, drug induced detachment stroking in wonder and curiosity the pale head of Leo but feeling guilty. Guilty that I hadn’t been able to be hold Maxwell William when he was a day old. Instead he had been in the sterile, life-protecting, transparent confines of a humidity crib three hours away. As the memories coalesced, so did the realisations that guilt was a common factor in my births and that each child’s coming carried a scar.
There was the trauma of Maxwell’s emergency ceaser. Of seeing a blue child hoisted into the world, of the four long minutes that he didn’t breathe. There was the precious relief and the beauty of his alert twitching self when he decided he was here to stay. The tender delight of our first cuddle and the tearful, trusting goodbye as he was taken to Melbourne to be cared for and the next day and night: the longest in my life. I slept with a photo of him held tight in my fist: now a mother with no child next to me to touch- to prove it. No child to hug and validate the first thin pink scar across the bottom of my abdomen.
My second pink scar bore Leo to the world via an elective ceaser, the procedure full of fear and nausea. My first week of being Leo’s mother was tainted by the distaste, shock and reeling recovery of the operation. The realisation of what my body had to endure without adrenalin to buffet the experience. There was the toothache as a root shriveled and died with a distractingly sharp pain that this breast feeding mum could barely medicate against. And then there was the jaundice and the decision to flush it from my son’s vulnerable body with hourly feeds. Every hour. On the hour: all day and all night.
The last, not yet pink, gash belongs to Samson. Samson, whose surgical birth felt fine, smooth even, despite its mild complications but whose in utero journey had caused me and my loved ones the torment that was the depression. He will be my last scar.
However to say that these scars have hurt me would be a lie for as you all know they’ve left me anything but empty handed. However it’s not just the blessing of their little lives in mine I wish to celebrate. It is that thanks to my children I found the warrior in me. Before they were born I never knew I had the strength to walk one day after my insides had been sliced apart to prove that I was fit enough to be reunited with my child. I didn’t know that I could rouse and rise through the thick of tired pain to give my child the means and the strength to flush the poisonous bilirubin from his system. Before their birth I did not know that I could wake each day when my brain demanded I be flattened by the world and had turned into my enemy hating and wanting to hurt the flesh I traveled in. I didn’t know that the will to preserve another outweighed the will to preserve myself and how I could channel that will to recovery. Until my children were born I didn’t know how strong I was: I don’t think any mother or any parent does.