This photo has always been one of my favorites. My son Ian and I, walking down our road, he was barely two. Walking side by side, but off in our own individual thoughts and worlds. He not needing to hold my hand, me not concerned about his safety. Both of us confident in each others presence. Independent yet together. This very much defines our relationship to this day.
Eight years ago today was the most beautiful and yet traumatic day of my life. He arrived one month early, already demonstrating his strong-willed and independent spirit. Doing things his way. On his time. It could be the red hair. Or what ended up being his Scorpio nature. Or, more likely, a set of genes from parents who are very much the same way.
But his early arrival also altered any neat and tidy plans written out months before by me. Instead of a home birth, all natural of course, we experienced instead an emergency C-section, the first of two emergency surgeries for him, and 99 days of hospital life. He would not come home until February.
Those three months carried so many emotions. Joy. Despair. Grief. Hope. An immense letting go of any control I thought I had over my life and how it would go. A huge awakening too. But that perspective would take years to fully appreciate.
The pain of that experience buried itself deep down into my cells. A grief so profound, so unknowable to me up until that point of my life. It's taken eight years for me to even share these bits and pieces of that time. Reading other women's beautiful birth stories inevitably brought up feelings of resentment, anger, and of being left out of a shared cultural experience. Far from having the natural birth I so envisioned, and because his issues were intestinal, I was able to breastfeed for only one week, depriving me of that connection as well. Issues of the magazine Mothering arrived in my mail box each month (a wonderful gift that exemplified at the time the kind of mother I was going to be) yet instead reminding me of what I was not experiencing, of a group of women that I was not part of, sending me into a deep depression of not being enough. Of somehow failing as a mother. From the very beginning. Before my son could even walk or talk.
It's taken eight years for me to work through this pain, the emotions, the issues of not identifying with motherhood from the start. I am today ~ blessedly ~ able to see Ian's birth as a gift. Of course for having this amazing child being brought into my life, but also that the trauma of how he arrived is also a gift. It cracked me wide open. Raw and exposed. To the pain, but also to the beauty of life.
It woke me up. It reached far in and shook loose all the trapped emotions of not being good enough. In so many ways, not just as a mother. I have been able to heal on so many levels.
November 16. A magical day. I am so incredibly grateful.
Happy eighth birthday to my fabulous little red head. You brought to my life more than I ever would have imagined possible. I love you so much.