Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Imperfect Mother, Life Lessons and Xena the Warrior Princess
It was last Sunday evening and Mr. P brought me into the house; groggy from the anesthesia and tired to the bone, I muscled out some smiles to 3 pairs of anxious little eyes before collapsing on the couch.
Cave approached first with some violent tugs on my leg and a quick, "You all done with the hospital, Mommy?"
"Yes, baby. Mommy's all done."
Tank keeps his distance, but shoots me reassuring grins as he drives his box cars along the stripes of the carpet. His remarks on the size of the ambulance are the only reference he makes to the day's events. Mom is home safe and sound, and that's enough for him.
CC immediately begins fussing over me on the couch; adjusting pillows, moving a table closer, and getting me a glass of water. I marvel at this little woman staring at me. Mr. P told me in the hospital that when he explained the situation to the kids, CC immediately responded like a woman with the weight of the world on her skinny little shoulders, "Dad, Tank and I will be very calm and brave, because we don't want to upset Cave."
I'm proud to be her mother.
CC takes my gaunt, white hand in her small little ones and I feel like crying. It's been a tough day--a fruitless labor, ending in a surgery--and if I'm being honest, I was pretty frightened by the weakness of my own body. I've always handled child birth and even miscarriage well, and for some reason, I can't stop thinking about what might have happened if I lived in a different century or in a hut in a third world country. How easy it can be to take for granted all these medical advancements of our time.
Something about CC gently holding my hand flooded me with relief. How safe I feel in my warm home with my loving family. Just a few hours before I was stuck in a cold sterile hospital asking perfect strangers, "if you believe in God, could you pray for me?" At least, that's what Mr. P claims I said before they put me to sleep for surgery. I'm that crazy patient.
CC asks if I need any medicine and I tell her that Dad gave me what I needed, but she insists on knowing when I should have my next dose so she can give it to me. She is 6 going on 60!
I lay on the couch wondering if the kids understand why I took an ambulance to the hospital, I thought the two littlest guys would be a wreck, but they seem fine. CC continues to stroke my arm and analyze me carefully.
"CC, I'm going to be fine. I'm just tired."
CC laughs nervously, "Mom, Dad told the 911 lady that you were miscarrying, but I know that's not true. You didn't have a baby in your tummy. You would have told me that!"
I glance over to Mr. P, we hadn't decided how we would explain all this to the kids. We knew the baby wasn't going to make it, so we hadn't told them about the pregnancy. We hoped to talk to the kids about all three miscarriages after everything was over, but I hadn't thought out how we were going to tell them. They've been desperate for another sibling and I wanted to tell them in a way that was honest, loving and hopeful and supernatural. But now I was still fuzzy from the meds and I just started stammering out something vague. As soon as I began, I realized I couldn't finagle my way out of this.
"Yes, Mommy did have a baby in her tummy, and God wanted to take this baby to be with him."
I looked over to my daughter, hoping she'd take it well. Instantly, CC started crying. I felt so bad! I should have waited till things had calmed down. Darn these drugs impairing my judgement.
"Honey, now you have a very special sibling in heaven watching over you."
"But, I wanted a baby here so I could hold her and take care of her and play with her."
"I know, I'm sad too."
"Where is the baby's body? Why did the baby die? Why did God let that happen? Have you had other miscarriages?"
So many questions to handle and my head is pounding. I don't feel like I answered them with the wisdom and grace that I should have. Initially, CC didn't seem comforted and mostly, she seemed upset that we hadn't told her about all these little babies.
As a parent, you hate to feel like you've made the wrong call when handling a delicate situation with your child. I wish things hadn't come out the way they did, but life is messy and sometimes kids learn those tough life lessons from imperfect parents in less than ideal circumstances.
At least that is what I am telling myself.
CC eventually calmed down and asked the names of her three tiny siblings. We talked about meeting them some day and CC asked me to give her "three stones with their names painted in white paint with a cross" to keep in her room.
I've read how other families have handled miscarriage with their kids and it seemed so beautiful and poignant, this just seemed sad and I felt like I had messed this up somehow. I was still so tired and drained and wasn't on my game.
Here's hoping St. Paul's right about all that "when I am weak, then I am strong" stuff. If he is right, I guess that would make me the catholic version of Xena Warrior Princess.
The other day in the car, I was thinking about all this, and as if the kids had read my mind, they started asking me if I thought our three little souls were boys or girls. Tank declared them all boys and CC insisted they were all her sisters. Cave some how related the conversation--as she often does--to her doggy birthday cake from 5 months ago. Tank said, "Mom, it's really amazing that we are here when we started out so small!" "Yes, it really is," I agreed, "It is a miracle that each of you are here and God must have some amazing things for you to do down here!" CC added practically, "Yeah, but I hope it won't be too hard!"
I wish I could promise her that, but her comment immediately brought to mind that famous quote from Pope Benedict:
The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.
I am very much holding on to this idea that we are not made for comfort as I hold heads for vomiting children and sanitize various surfaces. Yesterday, I told a friend, "God must have decided to spare us of all these crazy flus sweeping the area, because we've been so healthy!" Stupid, stupid, Kathleen! At least, the Stomach flu fairy visited this week and not last week! Now I better get back to finding the greatness in all this! Wishing you a happy, HEALTHY, Tuesday!