Encountered Messages: Gathered Pearls From Motherhood
I can distinctly remember without closing my eyes, the sharpness of the first labor pain I felt when my second oldest son, Caleb, first began his actual descent into our world and announced his impending arrival. As an expecting mother of a son just over two years old, I was no stranger to the pain. I wasn’t surprised by the way the pain seemed to roll in like a threatening thunderstorm: complete with heaving and growling winds. No, I was no stranger at all to the sharpness that jabbed like knives thrown wrenchingly into my inner bowels.
The labor with my oldest son, Karl, had been surreal complete with almost 40 hours of labor, strange embarrassing birth positions engaged and promoted by the on -call labor nurses who desperately fought my bodies need for a last minute emergency C-Section to save my son's life and end what felt like my endless suffering. I have heard it said many times that the reason people have second and even “third” children is because they forget the pain. As if it is possible to lose the memory of sensations much akin to what torture victims endure before succumbing to a final act of disemboweling, which of course is completed in slooowww motion. I DIDN’T FORGET! I couldn’t forget … even if a million years transpired. Those memories would stay engrained, fresh on my mind, like a lost love, bittersweet but NEVER FORGOTTEN.
I stood there in my white lace collared old fashioned, granny pajamas gripping my stomach when the first pains rolled in, barely noticeable yet threatening of harsher ones to come. I instinctively grabbed my round and robustly protruding stomach. I waited for another to hit in the moments after, knowing that if this was the “Real” thing, more pain was to follow! THEN IT DID! I tried to stand upright, my hands groping for the bed post for support in the darkness of my bedroom. When the moment passed and then another surge literally forced the breath and viable voice from my body, I knew it was time to nudge my sleeping husband and tell him what I was now certain of: son # two was on his way!
My husband and I made it to the hospital in record time after making a short pit stop to ‘the grandparent’s ‘house to deposit Karl David for safe keeping. In fact as it turns out, we had amble time to spare. 15 more hours to be exact! I passed the time by walking down hospital corridors, gripping my husband, Jamie’s hand, until it turned white.
I was completely unprepared for the intensity of both the experience and my raw love and dedication . I remember holding my tightly swaddled, bundle of blue while sitting uprightly in the black imitation, leather seat the next morning. The nurses came into my room like a swarm of Africanized Honeybees. One nurse took my blood pressure, another dispensed unfamiliar meds into petite, white paper cups, while yet another reached over and adjusted my position from a comfortable prone to one that rudely put the kybosh on any last hopes that I had to actually catch some sleep. They helped me swivel my stiff and swollen legs over the edge of the absurdly thin and squeaking plastic mattress. Then with a 1-2-3, the team of nurses abruptly pulled me into a half standing position which I was only momentarily aware of before redopsiiting me into the black chair. Once assured that my current physical needs were met, the nurses filed out in single file, and leaving me alone to catch my breath as well as my thoughts.
was brought to me a few minutes later. The faces of the women who brought this meeting into fruition have long since faded away like the scent and colors of the flowers sent to me as well wishing gifts in the aftermath. I cannot recall any of these ladies and I apologize for the lack of clarity in which my mind has preserved what has turned out to be one of the five most memorable moments in my entire life. Far and few things can surpass the joy and breath taking awe one feels when at last holding a realized promise so small, and yet indescribably, and wonderfully made. Becoming a mother and entering into a sacred relationship with each of my children has been without a doubt my life’s greatest blessing!
That’s how I felt when Caleb Matthew came into my world. Born at a total of 8 LBS 2 OZ healthy, strong with decidedly thin but dark hair and deep brown eyes that held just the tiniest speck of greyish-blue in the bottom corner of his right eye. I loved him despite this subtle flaw! And when I had inspected him thoroughly after un-swaddling him that first morning, I knew that my heart was never going to be the same!
Today on May 13th, 2012, I celebrated Mother’s Day with my mother and enjoyed the company of my sister, bro- in -law, seven year old niece, Deborah, and six year old nephew, Noah, while we ate and dined at my sister’s home. Surrounded by this large company which included my husband and now five children, Karl David, 16, Caleb, 14,, Joshua ,12, Katelyn ,10, and Julia ,4, I felt the completeness that all of these people bring to my life. I felt a tidal wave of gratefulness swell up in my chest as I ended my evening sipping coffee side by side with my sister as we sat on her front porch steps, gazing at our “little pack” of seven kids. We talked and laughed about being surrogate mothers to each other’s children but my heart wasn’t fully engaged in our conversation.
As the sun began setting behind the maple trees across the road on the easement owned by my sister and bro in law, I started thinking back to Caleb’s birth, now over 14 years ago. I watched Caleb, now a strong boy of 14, racing his brothers, sisters and young cousins on the metal scooters my mother had bought them as gifts just a few years back. I observed his tussled dark brown hair, the light and laughter clearly emanating from his eyes, and watched him hoot and holler in pride as he won a race. I watched with motherly pride, honing in on the memories of his recent challenged childhood.
Flashbacks of therapists multiple report’s, negatively declaring the uncertainty of my son, Caleb’s abilities and future came flooding back like an unwelcome guest. I remembered and recounted the words used to diagnose his plague of disorders which included severe speech delays, fine motor delays, in addition to his struggles with gross motor skills. A twisted leg became his proverbial thorn.
I remember the years dotted by endless doctor visits, and medical tests. The negative reports were in effect a tsunami, threatening to crush every last hint of hope that I defiantly held unto .Only God’s saving grace had spared my sanity! I remembered like it was yesterday the time Caleb’s hearing had been tested over and over to check if he was even able to hear the sound of our voices each time we whispered “I love you ”.
Those days were laced with tears and desperate prayers offered over and over by parents that would NEVER stop loving him no matter how the future panned out. I was sure of that from day one, the first morning I held him in my arms! Now tonight, I watched him fearlessly playing “normally” with his family and I thanked God for the small reminders of his answered prayers! My thoughts then turned to the Mother’s day cards my five children had spent hours designing , drawing, typing and printing on my laptop’s word processor. Their words of love and friendship decorated the pages of my heart in much the same way one must feel when being endowed with a Purple Heart medal. I felt totally unworthy of such innocent, fervent, and unrepentant love!
All of my children’s cards are deeply treasured. Caleb’s card this year was a copied page from the cover of his Nintendo Wii video game, Polar Artic. One might turn up a nose at such a gift, but gifts such as this are one of many pearls I have collected over time. My son copied that video game cover using my printer, simply because it showed on its cover, a Mother Polar Bear fearlessly embracing her cub and the cub embracing the mother bear back, just as tightly.
On the bottom Caleb had inscribed his heartfelt words, which were, “Mom, Love You Forever and Always No Matter What!”
Tonight I watched Caleb racing his heart out, family flanked faithfully at his sides. I smiled contently as the last glimpses of sunlight disappeared behind the enveloping trees knowing that this is what LOVE and FAMILY are all about! Then I looked over at Caleb and thought to myself, “No fancy drawings needed son… message fully understood!”
Written By Jennifer M. Davis
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