A Mother’s Love

My son in utero
My son in utero

I’ve become intimately in tune with my body over the years, due to my ongoing struggle with health issues. I’ve learned to listen to it when it needs nourishment, when it needs me to lay off the nachos and beer. I’ve learned to identify sources of pain and meditate on the mental issue causing that part of my body to spasm or clench up. My physical therapist says memories are stored in parts of the body. When she is mid-treatment and feels my body tense, she asks me what thought just popped into my head. I remember when I was in LA getting intensive myofascial treatment for endometriosis, my therapist was working on my jaw and a long suppressed memory floated to the surface. Me, as a little kid, shoving my toothbrush into the back of my mouth to massage my sore jaw. It was sore because I spent a lot of time clenching my jaw to keep from spouting off at my parents. It’s much easier to be a righteous opinionated adult than a child. Even today my jaw gets sore when I’m not expressing myself. Sometimes I feel like I have verbal diarrhea and have to stop the words from pouring out, to censor myself, but that never helps. I’ve learned to write it down in a diary, or spout off to the punching bag in my garage.

Love has been long attributed to an emotion of the heart. When I think of people I love, I feel it in my chest. When I receive acupuncture to open my heart chakra, I feel my chest open and love pour out. But I’ve noticed there is another organ involved in a mother’s love. My uterus.

After a day at work, I feel an unrelenting pull to hold my son. My heart and uterus ache until I can hold him in my arms again. When I look into his eyes, my heart expands, and my uterus does too.

It makes sense. Pregnancy and birth are the most major experiences a uterus can have. It’s the whole purpose for the organ’s existence. My uterus remembers where my son came from.

I have an irrational fear that I’m going to lose him. That somehow I’m not deserving of this much love and happiness. He is my world, and I’m afraid it will be taken from me. When I first got married, I had this fear about my husband too. It’s subsided for the most part, because I’ve worked on letting it go. It comes back sometimes if he’s been on a fishing trip and I haven’t heard from him in a few hours.

I think my fear for my son is from his birth. He wasn’t breathing when he was born and they had to take him to the resuscitation room to put him on a CPAP machine. My husband was with him, and it turned out to not be a big deal at all. But for me, still in the birthing room being stitched up by a silent doctor, not knowing anything, it was torture. I thought he was going to die. After so many years of infertility, 24 hours of labor, my baby was going to die. I resolved to kill myself as soon as possible because I could not bear to live without him. It was awful. This memory makes me cry. My heart and uterus hurt so deeply.

I’ve felt this fear many times since. You worry about SIDS. Is he going to have a bad reaction to a vaccine? He fell off the bed, is he going to have a subdural hemorrhage? The other day he choked on some chips because he wasn’t chewing and swallowing, just shoving them in his mouth. My adrenaline kicked into high gear and I went into hyper-focus, immediately sticking my finger down his throat to remove the offending ball of mashed up chips, then whacked him on the back forcefully. I didn’t need to perform CPR; with the chips dislodged he breathed and started wailing. I had no emotion during this experience. But after the adrenaline wore off and as I was holding him in my arms, the realization of what just happened hit. The same fear, the pain, the wounded heart and uterus.

I felt the same pain when I read Trayvon Martin’s mother’s letter to Michael Brown’s mother. I feel it when I read about families in Gaza. The connection to my son through my heart and uterus is a connection to all mothers and all children. I pray for them as my uterus aches.

He may not be physically connected to me anymore, but the memory is there. The connection always will be.

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