My dear friend lost her child this week. She was 17 weeks pregnant and already every bit as much of a mother that I aspire to be each day.
I'm not interested in getting into a discussion on when life begins. I will tell you though that for me motherhood began when I started making choices for myself based on my baby. It was when you'd find yourself turning down that glass of wine because you 'never know', when you'd opt for cheddar instead of Gorgonzola 'just because' and when you could actually summon a smile when requesting decaf. It's when old wives tales would have you taking warm showers instead of soaking in hot baths. It's when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, yet you still catch yourself rubbing your bump on the subway. Motherhood is instinctual, it is primal, and no matter how long it lasts, be it 1 week, 17 weeks, 3 years or until the end of your time on earth, it is with you forever.
In the 9 months before the rest of the world meets your baby, you are likely already best friends. You walk together, talk together, you do a lot of peeing and perhaps puking together. And, if it walks like a duck, waddles like a duck...well, it's already a mother.
It almost feels as though the actual 'having a baby' is when the rest of the world is let in on the joy but the private pleasures of motherhood begin way before. Nobody else in the whole world felt my daughter kick the first time. No one. And nothing can ever take that away from me.
It is this realization that makes me feel so strongly in the acknowledgment of the pain that mothers feel when losing their babies early on. Today, my heart is broken for my friend and I can only imagine that her ache is just as real and painful as if I lost my Olive tomorrow. Grief is surely just as much about the loss of what memories you didn’t make, as well as as mourning the ones you remember.
In fact, I felt a bit like I was running an egg and spoon race when I was pregnant, or playing a giant game of Jenga...if that makes any sense. The longer you go, the giddier you get and yet just seeing the finish line didn't hold any guarantees. It was my constant focus. Utterly all consuming.
Today was a reminder of not only what a gift life is but just how cruel it can be. My heart and prayers are full of love and strength to mothers today, no matter where your children are.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Motherhood is a constant contradiction of emotion. You want a break, you don't want a break. You want daddy to hold her, you don't want her to go to daddy. It pains you when she reaches for you and you have to leave but knowing how much she needs you is a comfort. Being a mum is an emotional assault. Sometimes only a mum will do. Not always for the fun stuff either. Daddy, Daddy, watch me try and walk. Mummy, Mummy, I've fallen and nobody else in the whole world is going to get me to stop crying in two simple seconds.
Today I burst into tears in the middle of Nordstrom on my lunch break. A woman was pushing a stroller and out of nowhere the child began to cry. I was somewhere between picking up a Laboutin and realizing I could never afford a pair when I heard the child. If I was still breastfeeding I think my boobs would have spontaneously combusted and sprayed the store with milk. Instead I just sort of snorted and my throat became thick and tears rolled. No sooner had I started than I was flushed with embarrassment. I gave an overly loud cough and walked out inhaling a cloud of Chanel all the way. I think that's what they call a 'moment'. I was furious walking back to work. With myself. With the world. With the lady and her child. I had effectively thrown my own toys out of my pram and was having a class A pity party.
I don't mean to complain - I know I have it good. Even if I lived in a tent with Tom and Olive and had to watch Scrubs on repeat for the rest of my life - I would still be the luckiest (okay, so maybe not Scrubs, let's say Private Practice), girl in the world. However, sometimes, just sometimes, I want to feel sorry for myself in a very un-mum like way. The verdict is in - being a stay at home mum is far more exhausting than any day job but on an emotional level it's not even in the same realm in terms of difficulty.
And, it's not all bad - I can pee without a baby on my lap. After peeing, I leisurely wash my hands. I may even apply hand lotion before checking my appearance in the mirror. I can hold a hot cup of coffee. As in just hold. Not just pick up, sip and put down. I can actually cradle a cup of coffee. Silver linings, people. Silver linings.
You know what I was reminded of today? That scene in Beaches where Hillary sees CC playing with Victoria on the beach. Now, I'm not dying and my mother in law is not Bette Midler getting to play with my daughter all day. But, all I could hear was that conversation between Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler in the beach house. I needed a CC. I always thought that I was the CC Bloom friend. Turns out that I needed 'that' friend today.
By the time I had walked back to work I was smiling and humming The Glory of Love. I had three hours till I would be home with my girl. Christmas was coming and we would have 4 full days together in a row. Life is good! So, thank you Bette Midler - today (yep you guessed it) you were literally the Wind Beneath My Wings.
(The conversation kicks in at about 7 minutes.)