Friday, March 04, 2011

That Night

One year ago today was that night. I actually had to look up the date, but I knew it was coming. I could smell it in the air; I could feel it.

I've been wanting to write about it for a while now, but never really had the chance. When the opportunity arose to audition for this show, I decided it was time to get it on paper.

Unfortunately, my piece wasn't chosen for the show, but I know I was meant to write it...if only for me.

So although I am in a pretty good place right now today I still wanted to post this piece on the very day it happened. Perhaps to prove to myself just how far I've come in a year, or perhaps to further the healing. I'm not quite sure.

Whatever the reason, I need to post it...if only for me.

Inside Out

It was the night my heart broke. Shattered in fact. Sure it had been broken before, but this was different. The pieces were smaller, the breaks much too complex for complete and total restoration.

A new heart would have to take shape, would have to beat in spite of the cracks. Cracks that would never quite heal, but yet, were never meant to heal. This new heart, this broken vessel, would find a way to beat harder, stronger, better. After all, a mother feels from the inside out—from the day her baby starts to form inside of her until the day her baby has babies and the emotion only grows deeper. For a mother, there is a sixth sense that is all about feeling, but has absolutely nothing to do with touch.

I remember what I wore – my favorite peasant maternity top that made me feel beautiful and Bohemian and all sorts of glow-y. What I made for dinner – a warm pot of chicken cacciatore that would never quite taste as good as I hoped it would upon our return home. The slightest hint of spring in the winter air that persuaded me to leave my leather gloves in the car.

And the bounce of my four-year-old’s almost-curly waves as she skipped up the sidewalk into the entrance of the ultrasound facility.

“Do you think it’s a girl, Mom? What do you think, Daddy?”

She was so excited, our soon-to-be “double big sister.” I pretended to be. This was our third child, our surprise. I was only playing along with the find-out-the-sex game to appease my husband and our two daughters. I honestly didn’t care. I just wanted assurance that everything was okay. There was no reason to believe it wasn’t, but there were nervous whispers; whispers my head kept pushing aside, convincing my heart that it was just third-child paranoia.

But nonetheless, my heart was jumpy that day, perhaps anxious for the reformation it was about to endure. As the first image revealed a squirmy little baby, the tears started to fall and my emotions started to take over.

A feeling close to relief spread throughout my body, but the tears remained steady. “Must be the hormones,” I nervously joked to the technician.

She was chatty, the technician…until she wasn’t. I tried not to notice. Emma was getting wiggly and starting to lose interest. I could see the beating heart on the screen overhead; this was real, everything was okay…

until it wasn’t.

“Turn this way. No, this way. Wiggle your belly like this. Again. Again. Again. Okay, I’ll be right back.”

The doctor then came in, a middle-aged woman whose face told me she too was a mother.

She moved the scanner over my swollen belly and looked me straight in the eye, mustering up something deep within. “There is a problem with this baby,” she said gently.

I saw her hand touch my leg, but all I felt was a gut-wrenching pain from somewhere deep inside my soul. A familiar, but stronger pain that had nothing to do with me but had to do with the helpless life I carried. An inside, out pain that only another mother could possibly understand.

Through the darkness, I watched as my husband processed the information, his face growing white than red, twisting and awkwardly contorting into an emotion somewhere between utter confusion and total understanding. Another pain grew within me.

I saw Emma’s innocent eyes watching, watching, and I noticed her jittery feet began to dance faster. Another pain emerged.

My heart was already broken at this point; my soul aching as it desperately tried handle all of the emotions, all of the pain.  None of which was my own.

Not yet.

Spina Bifida. Open Defect. Nerve Damage. Paralysis. Fluid in the Brain. Cognitive Challenges. 1 in 1,000.

The words were swimming round and round the room, on the outside, trying their hardest to penetrate, but it was too soon for that. The pain had taken over the inside. My baby. MY baby. How could this be happening to MY baby?

That night, within the safety of my bed, the pain found its way to the outside. The tears and cries lasted all night long, until the inside strength provided by my Savior rose with the sun, taking over my outside and enabling me to begin a new journey, one that was planned long ago.

In the days and months to come, those swimming words would penetrate. On the outside, a belly was growing and preparations were being made. But the real changes were happening on the inside. A beautiful life was forming for the first time, but another was forming for the second.

With every surge of pain, a mother was learning how to love deeper, live fuller, and appreciate each and every blessing. Like a magnet, the crumbled heart pieces found the space where the love pulsed deep and, slowly, built a new home. This new creation was now beating for new reasons, reasons that not only held the broken pieces together, but formed them into a shape far more beautiful than the original.

The pain also found its proper place inside; a place my heart and soul agreed upon; a place I am allowed to visit when I need to be more than a mother caring for a child with special needs, but when I need to be human.

While the reason for my pain is different, I know I am no different than any other mother who feels for her child. The mother who forces her feverish infant into a lukewarm bath at 3am. The mother who watches her toddler get rejected for the first time at the playground. The son that doesn’t make the team. The daughter whose heart has been broken. Their pain runs through our veins, takes over our organs, and provides grief stronger than we ever wanted to feel. Pain that breaks our hearts, turns us inside out, and never leaves us the same.

But it is the pain of motherhood that makes us better mothers, and even more so, better people. A confusing love-pain mix that gives our lives purpose far beyond motherhood and slowly uncovers our true self. A self that is in fact not broken, but reformed, reshaped, renewed, and wonderfully made—from the inside, out.


Amanda_in78 said...

That was absolutely beautiful!
And emotional and gutwrenching and I have been there. If we only knew...

JourneyWithTheCrosiers said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. As I approach this first anniversary day next week, these emotions are hitting quite close to home.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing woman Lisa.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, Ive said it before, Ill say it again. You are a wonderfully eloquent writer. Your words touch the heart and soul with such beauty (and sadness all at the same time) You are a shining light in so many peoples lives. You must make your parents so proud. I only hope someday I can copy your faithfullness and hope and spirit in my own life.

Carol said...

Absolutely moving and beautiful. I just found out yesterday that Brooke had Spina Bifida. Never knew before. Not sure why. Thanks for sharing this post.

Ann Imig said...

Excruciating pain and beauty. Thank you for sharing your story.

Hilary said...

So beautiful. You should have won! It's amazing how your story sounds just like mine. And you are right it is a "pain of motherhood" that we all feel at one time or another. With our kids, we just feel it more often.

Jodi said...

Oh Lisa. Your words are BEAUTIFULLY written and tearully read on my end. Thank you for your gift (I'm a math nerd, words are NOT my strong suit!) and for sharing it in such a way that shoots straight to my Mommy-heart... the one that was forever changed on July 23, 2008. :)

Kiss Brooklyn from me and my Brooklyn!

Gretchen said...

BEAUTIFULLY written and heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing!

Your words about the pain being the same as every other mother carries, resonate so with my heart. I say it all the time to people, I am not stronger, I jsut carry a different pain, a different load, no more or less important than that than anyone else carries. I was refreshing to read (more eloquent!) thoughs from another mother who feels that way!

Susan said...

What an incredible post ~ I just had to read some more about your sweet baby girl. The eyes had me.