Posted by: morrowsl | May 8, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day

I recently agreed to do a podcast with my youngest daughter for Mother’s Day.  I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but I knew for certain it wouldn’t be some sappy testimony to motherhood and children and the wonder of it all.
It wasn’t.
I’m pretty sure I likened childbirth to constipation and I’m positive the subject was never overly glorified.  That ain’t how we roll.

But it did get me remembering.  No matter how many times you repeat a thing.  No matter if you get better at it or worse.  No matter what you may come to realize when all the smoke clears and you can sit down and think.
There is nothing that will ever equal the inaugural voyage.

I recall the day after my first child was born.  I was in a civilian hospital in a military town, so we were treated much the same as cattle in the stockyards.  Usher in the laboring beast, assist the birth as needed, provide shelter and sustenance, and let things run their course.  All the rooms were wards of six.  Not a lot of privacy.
There was a never-ending line of women in the hallway that first morning, shuffling along in our house slippers and bathrobes, right hands sliding along the handrail mounted to the pale tan walls, left hands holding tight to the little water bottle that offered instant, if temporary, relief to our sorely abused nether regions.  Many also carried small bags of toiletries – tooth and hair brushes, deodorant, lip gloss.
Thankfully, it took most of us so long to get from our rooms to the community bathroom that there was never much of a line and usually a stall open and available.  I wasn’t sure my system would even work anymore but, convinced by my mother (a seasoned veteran) that all I needed to secure my release from the place was to poop and be able to prove it, I was determined to at least try.  It was no small thing.  I was scared to death to even attempt a fart.  Everything from my belly button to my upper thighs felt like I’d been beaten with a sledge hammer.  The idea of sitting down made me tear up.  How the hell was I going to manage sitting down and pushing out a poop?

Suddenly,  a woman about ten feet ahead of me gave a little sigh and collapsed in a tangle just at the bathroom door. Panic ensued.  Those who were leaving the bathroom attempted to get out of Dodge as quickly as possible.  Those yet to enter circled around the fallen mother, our protective instincts kicking into high gear on a surge of hormones and adrenaline.  My mind raced.  She’d almost managed a full splits on the way down.  In response to the memory of my one and only attempt to do the splits, my woman parts convulsed sending waves of pain through my midsection.  The poor fallen woman was just coming around when the nurses finally arrived to help her up.  I tried to smile reassuringly as I shuffled past her.  All things considered, I was thankful as hell not to be her.

I stopped at the sink to fill my little water bottle with warm water and took the first available stall I came to.  Finally alone, inside the safety and security of my minuscule metal chamber, I tried to forget what I’d witnessed and focus on the task at hand.  On the inside of the door hung a cloth shoe organizer, it’s pockets stuffed with cotton balls.  I stared for what must have been days until the light bulb dimly flashed.  Warm water and cotton balls.  OH!!
The idea of the warm water decided for me and I sat.  Disgustingly, my once-firm tummy slid into my lap and rested atop my thighs.  I was shocked.  How the hell did that happen?  One of the first sensations I’d had, after waking up from giving birth, was that of being once again slender.  I’d started the journey a bit shy of a size ten.  My last clothing purchases had been maternity size fourteen.  I had stupidly assumed that, once the child within was without, I would just return to my previous size and shape.  This pancake of flesh resting on my lap was something I hadn’t considered at all.

I have never suffered from vanity, or at least not much, but at that moment I realized that nothing would ever be the same as it had been and I started to cry.

Of course, now I realize it was likely a bit of postpartum depression.  But that morning, sitting in that hospital bathroom with the sounds and smells of fresh motherhood all around me, having witnessed a woman fainting at my feet and coming to such a stark realization that my life was now governed by something far stronger than I was prepared to face, I simply gave in and gave up.

Eventually I slapped myself and regained control.  As bewildered as I felt, there was still that little girl down in the nursery to consider and I wasn’t about to be a baby in front of my baby.  I changed my mind about taking my mother’s advice, something I’ve done quite often in my life, and decided that I wasn’t really in a big hurry to leave the hospital and the company of all the other new mothers.  I was, for the first time in a long time, a part of something.  I was in a group of women who’d just come through a harrowing life journey and I wanted to find out what our shared experience might have to teach me still.

As I shuffled back down the hall with my now comforted lady bits snugged into clean underwear and my teeth freshly brushed, I heard thunder and realized it was pouring rain.  A chill ran down my spine and with it the blissful realization that I could once again sleep on my stomach.  I rang for the nurse and put on my most convincing “pain” face.
A bit later, as I was snuggling into a medically-induced deep sleep, legs opened wide to the warmth of a heat lamp and ears filled with the music of a pouring rain, it came to me that as much as my life had changed, there really was no reason to become lost in the madness.  I needed to remember that there is always a “me” in “mother”, even if there’s some space between the two.


Responses

  1. As always, you amaze me! What a wonderful mother you are!! Happy Mother’s Day, Bestie!

    • Thanks, Elle. I’ll never be in your league, but I do surprise myself sometimes. 😳


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