01 August 2010
When I first found out about your heart, I couldn't stop crying. I had all sorts of feelings that were crashing up against each other. I felt betrayed. I felt guilty. I wondered if my body had failed you -- if it had deprived you of something you needed, if I had bumped up hard against something at the exact moment your heart was nearing completion and threw something off.
I felt that the joy I had at seeing you for the first time, and imagining your impending arrival was supplanted by worry and planning of a different sort. When I found out about your heart, I discovered deep places within myself that I didn't know existed before that day. I felt such a loss of control. I had done everything right, taking such care in preparing my body for you, but sometimes these things "just happen." That's what we heard. That's what the doctor said: it was nobody's fault. It ... just happened.
I mourned the loss of the birth we had planned for, of the type of pregnancy I had hoped for. We had chosen the method of your arrival carefully, and even the midwives who cared for all three of us were excited to meet you. That had to change; with the things that were wrong with your heart, the hospital was the best place for us to be. And so now we see a doctor (who is wonderful, and I know you will like her) and get ready to meet you for the first time within the confines of a hospital.
I think what I feel the worst about now is that as you grow and develop inside me, as you squirm and kick and stretch, you have no idea what waits for you when you arrive. You didn't ask for what you will be facing, and you certainly do not deserve it. After the rudeness of the bright lights, there will be needles and catheters. There will be exams and scans and tests. And unless there's a miracle, there will be the first of a few surgeries. We won't get to hold you as much as we'd like at first (but we will be close). And then there will be the wondering and the waiting as even more doctors figure out how best to take care of you.
I'm glad you don't know and can't know what's coming. You should be just as you are: growing and kicking and squirming as blissfully and with as much ease as possible. Keep kicking and squirming, keep rolling and nudging. It reminds me that you really are okay in there, and that you have the fighting spirit you will need beyond the birth canal. Sometimes I imagine your harder kicks as a message from you letting me know we will get through this, and that you will be alright.
I always knew that I would love you fiercely, even before we knew about your heart. I didn't know what it would look or feel like to have my protective instincts kick in so hard, though. When people talked about your heart, about how we should feel, about what our "options" were regarding your life, Mama Bear came roaring to life in me. I imagine we will observe an even fiercer incarnation after you are born.
Though I wish I could see you more safely into life, we really are well taken care of, all things considered. We are surrounded by the most supporting and compassionate people -- not just in the medical team that will be taking care of the three of us (though truly, we could not hope for better), but in a wonderful doula, skilled and compassionate surgeons who know how important and delicate baby hearts are, and literally hundreds of people that are praying just for you. We will be surrounded with love and light, and we will not be able to escape that.
I hope that one day, you can recognize this heart condition as a gift -- I hope your broken heart teaches you (as it is teaching us) to trust, to hope, and to pray. I hope it reminds you (and us) of how delicate life can be. I hope it teaches you empathy and compassion, and not to take a single moment for granted. Though I am your mother, I expect that you will have much to teach me.
We love you, little punkerbelly. We can't wait to meet you, to hold you, to bring you home and play with you. What an incredible story you're telling, little one. I will wait in wonder at what else we will hear in your telling.
love and hugs and snuggles,
your mama bear