"If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to"~ Anna Nalick
It's the eve of my birthday. I am pensive today, feeling quiet and somewhat withdrawn. It's not the aging that is nagging at my mind..it's the history. I am sitting here thinking of my mother and wondering if 37 years ago today she was having signs of my impending arrival. I wonder what was going through her mind. Was she excited or scared? I was to be her second child, the hopeful son that my father always wanted. A disappointment from the beginning.
I once asked my mother about my birth. It was back when we were speaking, just before the birth of my first child. It was not a happy, peaceful event. It was fast, furious and angry words were thrown about. My mother was laboring quickly and there was not time for pain medicine and so instead of comfort she was told to "stop screaming" and "just push." The doctor, as my mother remembers, was rude and impatient. My father was left in the waiting room to wonder about his wife and child. Not allowed to be present, as I entered the world. It was a nurse that curtly told him, "You have another daughter." I can't help but wonder if our relationship would be different if he had been allowed to be in the room and share in the wonder of birth.
My birth also signified the beginning to what would be a life-long struggle with mental illness for my mother. Shortly after my birth she began to have signs of depression and was put on one medication after another. I imagine that since my mother was only 20, the mother to two young children, that her symptoms were diminished and she was left to fend for herself. As it turns out, my mother struggles with schizoaffective-disorder which was discovered when she began to perceive things that weren't happening. As part of her illness, she thought I was causing her distortions as she later shared with me after the birth of my second daughter. In her mind, she was warning me of the dangers of second daughters as leading to mental illness. Thus ended my relationship with my mother..
I wonder now, if this is part of why I became a midwife. Do I believe that the tone, words spoken and atmosphere of a birth room can set the tone for a relationship parents have with their child? ABSOLUTELY. While I can't prevent bad parenting or mental illness, in my small corner of the world I can at least set a family off on the right path with words of praise, quiet, and with nurturing. I also find importance in not minimizing the struggles a new mom may be having with bonding or depression. I know firsthand, that getting help early can prevent a lifetime of struggles...I just wish someone had been there for my mother.
So tomorrow I will celebrate another year gone by and relish in all my accomplishments. I feel very blessed to have my husband, my children, some family, and many friends to share in my day. I struggle every year with the knowledge that my parents will not call or write. I try to remind myself of their struggles, reach for inner peace and forgiveness. I know that good or bad, my experiences have shaped me and perhaps have made me a better person, wife, mom and midwife.