Sunday, May 10, 2009

Three Cords of Love: A Mother's Day Story

I know a thing or two about loss.

This year - I am strong enough for the unburying - unearthed again this Mother's Day as it always always always comes. Just when spring is screaming life and all things want to grow, Mimi girl holds seedlings yet unborn every year every year every year. And although I love the female influences I've had in my life.....
This is not about my mother.

It is about the mother
I wanted to be.

I was not built for birthin' babies. My weight at nine months pregnant was 128 pounds after gaining 28 pounds. I looked like a stick with a knot on it. Oh, I was proud of myself but nearly dead when it was over. My miracle boy arrived - a "feather in our cap" said the doctors. Eighteen hours of intense and dangerous labor ended with a knotted umbilical cord. My doctor looked at me and said, "Don't ever try to do that again."
Funny guy.
But I was stubborn.

I tried three more times. And failed. Miserably. In the span of one year I lost two babies; one in early spring and one in late fall. Another the next year. I knew I was running out of options, running out of time. My doctor was running out of patience.

So, at thirty-one years old, I had no choice but to make the decision to allow them to take away my womb, my womanhood, my hopes. I was not prepared for what would happen next.Pink and blue ribbons down the hallways.
Get. Me.Out.Of.Here.

Did you have a boy or a girl?"
Get me out of here.A welcome basket full of booties.
Somebody. PLEASE. Get me out of here.
Crying babies in the night.
I swear I will jump out of this 2nd story window if you don't get me out of here.

I wasn't supp
osed to be on this floor.
I had meticulously planned for this day, this funeral, this dirge. I knew the lines. I knew the music. I knew the march.
Blue ribbons. Pink ribbons. Lovely ribbons. Everywhere. Down the hall toward the nursery of crying newborn cribs full of babies that didn't belong to me.
And never would.

Twelve days later, after a routine hysterectomy, I was still in the maternity unit fighting off fluffy bows, happy laughing dads, and a raging infection. Enjoying a transfusion cocktail ( Thank goodness I'd donated my own blood just in case - it was the eighties.) and wondering why anyone else hadn't noticed that my sorrow in the surrounding hell of crying infants was contributing to my body's inability to heal itself. Too sick to fend for myself, I pleaded
with my once-upon-a-husband to have them move me out of obstetrics to another floor.
He would not. He could not. I distinctly remember vowing to myself through the fever and the emptiness that when I got out of there, I would never count on him for anything else again.

The fever finally left. I went home. I wept.
I still remember a horror in my soul so severe I could not breathe without the vacant place in the heart of my being laughing laughing laughing at the girl who could not convince her own womb to safely hold a baby.
Such a simple thing really. What a failure I was.
Any woman worth her hormones could birth babies. Why couldn't I?

My mothering was not done.

Had I not had the sense to stop leaning on my own understanding and choose to take a chance on a prayer, I might still be a woman full of unrest. But something told me to go to the window on a bright and cold winter's day twenty years ago. I looked up at the sky. I looked up to Heaven. I was so angry with God.

I did not understand. I wanted Him to see my scorn. I wanted to tak
e back every faith-filled word I'd ever spoken and tell Him it didn't mean a damn thing. My useless questions spilled on tears of bitterness. I knew I had to face my fate. I didn't know how - but I knew I had to let go of dreams I could never have.
Three times I held out my hands, palms up, and thought of each one, visualized each one, loved each one, said goodbye to each one. And then I lifted them up to the care of God Almighty. There was no safer place. I can't explain it, but when I left that room I was different. My grieving, my resentment, was over.

A mere twenty years ago seems like another lifetime to me. It is also astonishingly apparent to me now, at this juncture, how very young I was to have been dealt such a hand. I don't write that with pity, but with clarity that comes with some living, knowing that a girl barely out of her twenties just might have needed twenty years to process a fate that changed the direction of her life. Life moves at such a speed that sometimes we find ourselves skimming over the madness until such a time we choose to take it to task.
It is of no small consequence either, to recall how deep the well of love flowed through my veins to the lifeblood of those babies - from the second I knew they existed until the moment they left.
It was, and is, a palpable and loving connection.
What did my heart learn?That there is no stronger joy than being tethered by a cord of love.

I'm at the age when my friends and colleagues' daughters are starting college, starting marriages, flying from the nest. Some were expecting when I was expecting. And although I rejoice with them, the truth is, I always feel a tug of sadness in the middle of my mother's heart. And I wonder...... Where are they now? Do they know me? Do they see me? Do they live somewhere? Do they know I love them? Are there angels watching them? What would they have become? And the girls. Oh, to think of the girls makes me want to squeal with joy at the thought of shopping with daughters.

Yet I know that every road I've walked has made me the woman I am today.
And I know she is whole.

What would she look darling my girl?

In the span of a lifetime - entire lifetimes reside in sequential reality; silently slipping one into the other without the slightest hint of the death and resurrection to come. They take up eons of space in our hearts.
We do not stop to mourn their passings. We are only aware of the tranforming power that is.

What would you look like my darling my girl?
Sometimes I think I see you in the wisp of a long dark lock round the corner...

And I remember.

Images: Public Domain and Mimi Lenox
Copyright © 2006-2009 Mimi
Lenox. All Rights Reserved.


RennyBA said...

What a wonderful Mothers Day contribution: Well written - with love - and great documented too!

Btw: Mothers Day is celebrated on different days around the world - here is the list.

Happy Mother Day to you :-)

bobbie said...

Thank you for your story, Mimi. It helps us to appreciate more what we have.

Yes, I believe they know you and love you and know you love them.

katherine. said...

an incredible piece Mimi.

Happy Mothers and Grandmothers Day to you!

Daisy said...

Oh Mimi, that was beautiful. Happy Mother's Day to you.

Anonymous said...

Very touching and beautiful post.Thank you for sharing Happy Mother's Day ...Hugs

Dawn (Twisted Sister) said...

It's a beautiful post Mimi... sad and beautiful. Our stories are similar in ways... I weighed 125 lbs when I gave birth and after 19 hours of labour I ended with a knotted umbilical cord. That's where the similarities end. I never got pregnant again despite ten years of trying.

I cannot imagine the pain of losing babies... or ending up on a maternity ward for a hysterectomy. That's just cruel.

They know you love them... of that I'm sure. After all, you are their mother.

Happy Mother's Day Mimi.

Mimi Lenox said...

Renny - Thanks for the list and the wishes, Renny, and for visiting me all the way from Norway.
Have a great day!

Mimi Lenox said...

Bobbie - I feel that I know them as well.

Mimi Lenox said...

Katherine - Happy Mother's Day to you as well. I know this day is especially poignant for you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Daisy - Happy Mother's Day to you, my furry friend!

Mimi Lenox said...

Ariel - Hugs and kitty purrs back to you on this Mother's Day.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

So wonderfully written, Mimi. It must be so painful at this time of year.

Mimi Lenox said...

Dawn - Very similar. The pain of infertility is a loss as well. I know that frustration and peculiar "silent" loss. Ten years is a long time. Wow.

And I have one thing to say to you, my friend. Go, right now, and knock on Justine's apartment door. Give her the biggest hug you have! She is most certainly your miracle gift.

Travis said...

I submit that what you lost has more than come back to you in joy through the questions and bright eyes of your Baby Boy.

Perhaps you didn't get the chance to be the mother you wanted to be. But I know that little guy has the Mimi he needs.

Mimi Lenox said...

Jean-Luc - You know what? I've been writing this post for weeks, paring it down and trying not to be sooo personal and yet it's so true that it doesn't really help people who might be going through the same thing if the telling is esoteric and abstract. So I went for real. Miscarriage is an awful thing and one not talked about publicly too much. It happens to lots of women who then routinely walk into baby showers and life celebrations with people not knowing the pain they carry.

For me, I needed to document it. I needed to see it written down. I needed to give myself a break for feeling blue on Mother's Day.

My son is a blessing. My grandson a joy. For that I am incredibly grateful.

Mimi Lenox said...

Travis - And I never take those eyes for granted. Your comment touched me. Thank you.

Finding Pam said...

Mimi, life does go on and we just cover up our emotions. I am thankful that after twenty years you are able to bare you hurting soul to us. It is not easy to do, but just know that your loyal subjects love and support you.

I was never prepared for the loss of womanhood that I felt. I grieved for that loss too.

Happy Mother's Day.

Mimi Lenox said...

Pam - I am no good at covering up emotions, most people aren't....they come out somewhere (our bodies manifest illnesses, we find unhealthy crutches along the way etc etc). For me, they come out in my writing and my music. Sometimes it takes a while to pin down the churning going on and put it in perspective but it always always always comes out.

I am sorry for your loss as well, Pam. These are things women carry and they never go away.

Peace to you.

Akelamalu said...

What a cruel blow fate dealt you - to lose your babies and then your womb at only 31 years old. I'm sorry Mimi. x

Southern (in)Sanity said...

What an emotional post. Thank you very much for sharing.

Happy Mother's Day.

Kimberly said...

How awfully heartaching. Thanks for sharing.

Mimi Lenox said...

Akelamalu - Thank you. It was hard on my once-upon-a-husband as well.

My son is taking me out to dinner tonight. I am so looking forward to seeing him!

Mimi Lenox said...

Southern - I needed to write it. Hope you have a great day as well.

Mimi Lenox said...

Kimberly - Thanks for commenting and stopping by. Have a lovely Mother's Day.

Charles Gramlich said...

A stick with a knot in it. Oh man I can see that so well.

Mimi Lenox said...

Charles - Attractive image, eh?

Mimi Lenox said...

Or knot...bwahaahaahaa

Julia Smith said...

Thanks for this post today. I find Mother's Day particularly tough to get through, even though I have a mother, mother-in-law, grandmother,special aunt and a step mom to celebrate today.

I grew up not with dolls but 'children'. I studied early childhood education, worked in day care and was a nanny for two families. When I married I waited rapturously for our family to begin.

I had my first miscarriage a year later. That one included a hospital stay. Five more times my pregnancies began but did not take. By that time I pretty much had to give up.

Most of the time, I think I'm okay with it. But one look at your post and I'm a weeping mess.

Mimi Lenox said...

Julia - My heart is aching for you right now. I hope you found something in my post to give you a bit of comfort.....maybe just the fact that you are not alone.
People say all the time "but you have one son, be thankful"(and I am!) but they don't understand at all.

Anytime you want to talk, email me.
I can so relate. I can listen.
I am so sorry for your losses and the ones that keep happening every time there is a Mother's Day or God forbid a baby shower.

Hugs to you. That is more pain than any human should have to bear.

Mojo said...

I can't begin to empathize. No man can. But I must take exception with one point you made here. No surgeon, no matter how skilled, could ever ever take away your womanhood Mimi. No matter how many or which parts of your body they might remove, they can never excise that part of you. It's too strong, to well established, too pure to ever be removed.

I wish I had a salve for the pain you must have felt, must still feel. Since I don't, I'll just remind you of what a fantastic job you did with the child you have. And nobody can ever take that from you.

You're a beautiful woman, a beautiful human being Mimi. And that's something nobody and nothing can ever take from you.

Love you girl.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mojo - At the time it happened, my identity as a woman was much more in sync with "having babies and becoming a mother" which defined that part of me. In the years that followed, and now, I realized that the essence of a woman runs much deeper than functionality. Perhaps I know it more than most because of what I have lost - precisely because I had to find and embrace a new definition on my own. I do take great joy in being a woman and learned to love that part of me unconditionally and unhindered (I do hope so).

I will take your comment and virtual hug and wrap it tightly around me tonight. You always know the exact right thing to say.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

They are so looking down at their lovely Mimi! Keeping you out of trouble.

Happy Mother's Day.

kenju said...

I am so sorry for your losses, Mimi. Your story is beautifully written, though sad - it is also hopeful.

Thorne said...

What an amazing thing to come here, tonight, after a mother's day shadowed by my own daughter's loss. We We lost our Lil Pharaoh at 6 months old to SIDS on Oct. 18, 2007. I haven't spoken with my daughter today, although she sent me a text message "Happy Mother's Day, I love you." She didn't call because she is barely holding on, and hearing her Momma's voice would undo her; I know this. The words that have returned again and again to me today were her words last year on this day, "I don't know who I am, Momma. Am I even a Mom?"
Oh... my heart.
This is a lovely and heartrending post, Mimi. Bless you.

Patti said...

This is such a wonderfully written post, Mimi. You are able to bare your soul here and I'm envious. I keep things bottled up..

This line really resonated with me:

"Life moves at such a speed that sometimes we find ourselves skimming over the madness until such a time we choose to take it to task."

I hope you had a wonderful time with your son last night.

Margo Moon said...

I'll always think of you with three of them now. How beautiful that the girls are there in your heart.

Mark said...

Thank-you for sharing this part of your journey. Your words have touched my soul in a very profound way. Your love is that of a mother and is unmistakable in the fact that it is unshakable.

The Gal Herself said...

I had a hard time getting through this. Yes, it was well written (of course; Mimi Writes, after all, and we expect nothing less). But your pain just oozes through. I cannot believe they put you in the maternity ward! Horrible! Your line about "Any woman worth her hormones could birth babies. Why couldn't I?" pierced my heart. And I commend you for being able to redefine and own your femininity. You know that a Queen is more than the sum of her hormones. I bow to you, YRH.

Bond said...

See...see..that is why, after just beginning to read you, I had to put BRILLIANT WRITER in my description of your blog.

Hoe you had a wonderful Mother's Day!

HUGS to you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Fish - Come to think of it, I need three people to keep me out of trouble. Smile.

Mimi Lenox said...

Kenju- I hope it brought a measure of awareness and hope. Thank you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Thorne - I read your heartbreaking story. My deepest sympathies to you and your family. "Am I even a Mom?"....must have been horrible to hear from her.
Hugs to all of you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Princess Patti - We had a great time! As for your comment, sometimes I think I reveal too much and then again, it's the only way I know how to write. I tried so hard to be succinct in this post (!) - you are my inspiration!!

Mimi Lenox said...

Margo - They're always here in my heart. I wish so much they'd grown up to know all of you too!

Mimi Lenox said...

Mark - There are so many parts to the Parts of a puzzle that make who we are.
Thanks for visiting.

Mimi Lenox said...

Gal - All females are more than the sum of their hormones. We just don't know it sometimes.
I think I was born with an extra prissy gene or something.....but as you know,there is so much more to being a woman than even that.

I'm sorry this pierced your soul and gave you pause. But I'm glad there are friends here to share with and exchange stories, ideas, and virtual hugs.
Thank you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bond- And that description has always cheered me on. Hugs back.
Thank you.

Patti said...

Mimi, Don't try to be succinct if that's not what's in you to be. My brief style of writing is from many years of you know.

carol g said...

You are such a marvelous writer, strong woman and an inspiration. Thank you.

jennifer said...

This was an amazing post. My words are inadequate to express how touched I am by your story. You are a beautiful person Mimi.

Linda said...

I'm sure this had to be a hard story for you to share but I am glad you did as it speaks to the woman that you are and the heart that you possess.

Next time, though, how about a "Tissue Warning"??

Mimi Lenox said...

Princess Patti - I know! And you do it so well.

Mimi Lenox said...

Carol G - What a kind thing to say. Thank you. Good to see you here.

Mimi Lenox said...

Jennifer - I think you have one of the sweetest spirits in the entire blogosphere....

Mimi Lenox said...

Duchess Linda - I just told a friend today that it was difficult to write, but it's been churning for a long while and it needed to hit the page. Now I have more perspective and can build upon that.
Thank you for your kindness.

Autumn said...

I know this is late & I hope you'll read it anyway:
I kinda skipped it 'cause of the mother topic. Because I know what it's like. A lot of that. Different causes, but much the same outcomes. Loss of what I did have & what I could have had. You wondered why I have issues w/ posts about Baby Boy? That's why. I hide 'cause I still feel resentful & jealous & all sorts of unhappy things when it comes to children. I hope to be able to accept someday. And I'm desperately sorry that someone as wonderful as you had to experience such unhappiness.

Julie said...

I am speechless dearest Mimi. You are amazing!

Mimi Lenox said...

Autumn - I am so very sorry that your mothering ended the way it did and that you have this heartache. All I can do is offer you a big hug from Bloggingham to Colorado. Does that help?

Mimi Lenox said...

Julie - YOU? Speechless?

Autumn said...

Hugs are always welcome, My Royal Bloggie Friend! ♥

Mimi Lenox said...

Autumn - Here's a huge big awesome hug just for you....close your eyes. Did you feel it?

Desert Songbird said...

Being a mother is the most important thing I have done in my life. I didn't expect that it would fill me up the way it has, but it is all consuming.

I hope you had a wonderful Mothers' Day, Mimi. Your boys are blessed in you.

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