Yoga and writing classes and meetings are an attempt to ward off the depression I feel threatening at the edges and margins of each moment. Still, it finds inroads. I wore my pre-pregnancy jeans today and the waistband was too tight on the incision. It felt ok, endurable, until I wore Teddy in the baby carrier and then the whole area felt numb and reminded me so much of the raw aching throb of early Cesarean, the wound where you were taken out of me and how empty I felt and bereft of even a birth story, my vagina unused, circumvented by a scar. I touched your soft face briefly in the OR, and then you were gone for four days. An unendurable separation but I endured it.
And then more, it just kept getting worse. The smell when I held you finally, of plastic, the cords and the dark crowded close room with no windows, how afraid I was to rip out your umbilical IV.
I hate freshly postpartum women on Facebook holding their new babies that still smell of them, that still smell of safety, and they post pictures, their eyes glassy from labor, from oxytocin, from the magic fucking hour.
On day six, I floated on the mattress after doing bedtime with the boys, adrift in my separate sea and he floated on his tiny mattress miles away, so much land between us. I couldn't sit up. We laughed about it later. I was "beetled" without the bed rails, stuck flat on my back because they cut through my core to take him out and away from me. I floated, beetled, on day six.
Today, I tried to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans, but I couldn't. I took off the jeans and then I got so dizzy, I almost fell over. I went into the kitchen. The snow was falling, a soft candle glowing, my comfy maternity sweatpants back on. I am so ready for pre-pregnancy jeans, but I'm not ready. And then I thanked God for Teddy who was beginning to cry in the other room, and I prayed, "It's not my fault. It is nobody's fault. And we all did the best we could. And God give me the strength to handle this weird numb area of my body, to deal with the scar, to touch it, to live with it."
I am grateful for 6-year-old Sheamus in the morning, asking for eggs, and 8 week old Teddy on my lap breathing and the cats and sunrise on snow and the pink and blue sky. I'm grateful for the neurologist saying, "A reassuring exam," and the nephrologist saying, "Come back in three months for an ultrasound. Kidney damage can be a little tricky because creatine isn't very reliable." He showed us a graph of Teddy's creatine levels from birth to discharge, a wave. "The low point at birth is from you, Mom."
Jesus, Teddy, I did my best. I gave you that, at least. A good start with your creatine levels. Then the injury, the insult, the damage, the deprivation, the maternal-fetal hemorrhage, the "directional problem," the blood flowing catastrophically in reverse through the umbilical cord. "Everything coursing through him, you absorbed into your body." These are the words that undo me. Then your kidneys recovered, on your own, alone, separated from me. I hope that your brain can do that.
Jesus, Teddy, I did try. And I'm still trying. The neurologist says your myelin sheaths aren't insulated yet and we'll know more about your deficits--another horror word--when the sheaths are fully insulated. So I am going to eat fish and DHA and flax oil and chia seeds and brazil nuts and pass it to you in your breastmilk to help you. I will do everything I can to make it up to you, that my body absorbed 80% of your blood while you, so trustingly, waited inside of me to be born.
I am grateful for heat and hot coffee and four-year-old Nat in his Paw Patrol pyjamas and I'm grateful for neonatal stroke specialists and warm heavy Justin and the way he cares for us and writing in the morning and the love in our home and the sledding and nature walks and the quiet of the evening after the boys go to sleep and I'm grateful for music and the guitar and for wool socks and for maternity sweatpants, soft fabric that holds the scar gently and contains it.
Richmond, VA. Cat Ennis Sears is a mother and writer in Richmond, VA and sporadically blogs here.http://cluttercat.wixsite.com/clutter The photo was taken by Stephanie Jacobson of Whimsy and Wilderness Photography and is shared with her permission. https://whimsyandwildernessphoto.com/