Sunday, May 9, 2010

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 transforming 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 Photography

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Kitten said...

Very touching story, Mimi. It brought tears to my eyes, especially when you talked about having a daughter, right at the very end. Thank you for sharing such a powerful memory with us.

Shannon H. said...

I agree with Kitten. This was very touching and really touched home. With tears in my eyes I sit here thinking of my past. Hugs to you my dear friend.

Finding Pam said...

I don't think you ever get over the loss. I totally understand the hospital experience.

Patti said...

This is so touching, Mimi. You are a beautiful writer.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Beautifully penned, Mimi. Such a tragic loss.

My 100th post is up now.

Akelamalu said...

Oh my dear I am so sorry for your losses. x

CountryDew said...

I don't often comment on your blog but that entry hit home. Like you I had a hysterectomy at an early age (I was 29) and though it's been almost 20 years I don't think I will ever lose the ache of not being a mother. It has eased but I daresay it will never go away. Thank you for writing this for those of us who feel this pain and seldom express it. It is a pain of a different kind and I am thankful you acknowledged it.

Jamie said...

Dearest Mimi you brought tears to these eyes. Love no matter how lost is never wasted. Love is the building blocks of our souls. You have had some hard work to do, but look at the castle you have built.

Mojo said...

I've read this story before -- most of it anyway. And I'll repeat what I hope I said the first time around. You need never ever doubt your mother-ness or even your woman-ness. They could remove a physical piece of your body, but no surgeon, no matter how gifted, could ever excise that part of you. I see it, and I don't feel the slightest bit like I'm overstating the case when I say I am not the only one.

You, Mimi, are good and perfect and whole in all the ways a person can be. Believe that always.

Happy Mothers Day.

Dawn (Twisted Sister) said...

I always feel a tug of sadness in the middle of my mother's heart...

Of course you do... I am in tears now. Beautiful post my friend.

Happy Mother's Day.

Mimi Lenox said...

Thanks to everyone. I hope your day was wonderful and special. I am honored to call you my friends!

The Gal Herself said...

What an honest post! You confront one of the major issues in my life, and probably every woman's life: "Can we truly be women if we don't have children?"

The result of a physical assault left me compromised in the child bearing department. My doctor had no reason to doubt my ability to conceive, it was whether I could carry a baby to term and deliver it without complications that was at issue. Consequently I made the decision to not try.

Do I regret it? No. Within the context of my life and my subsequent relationships, it seemed like the only decision I could make.

But it's made the issue of my sexuality, my desirability, my femininity all the more complicated. So I appreciate the courage and candor it took you to post this.

And I find comfort in the fact that you, too, imagine your daughter. Pearl Harbor happened on my mother's birthday when she was just a little girl. President Kennedy was assassinated on my 6th birthday. We each had an early birthday marred by the cataclysmic event of our generations. This may sound freaky but I'm sure, in an alternate universe somewhere, I would have given birth to my daughter on 9/11.

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog, so I am browsing through all your posts. Thank you for posting this one. I am 35 have lost one child at 8 weeks. I am still so angry, it's only been 2 years but I wonder how am I going to feel in 5 yrs, in 18 and so on. My husband and I are trying again but not really and sometimes I wonder if anyone really understands

Mimi Lenox said...

Gal - I'm sure I replied to this in private email. But thanks anyway for commenting here as well.
So much to think about, eh?

Mimi Lenox said...

Anonymous - Welcome to my space. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. If it's any comfort to you, I do understand.
What you are going through is difficult. If you'd like to talk, please send an email. Anytime.

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