OBG Editor’s Note: One topic that comes up a lot in all of our support groups is the experience of embodied memory- the smells, sensations, and sounds that recall from the depths of our bodies important and often traumatic moments in our lives. Sometimes we can fully anticipate the waves of these embodied memories, other times they emerge in ways that are harder to predict. In today’s Member Mondays blog, one of our birthparent members shares her experience of going back to a maternity ward 5 years after her own son’s birth- this time, to support a friend.
A very dear friend of mine had her first child yesterday. She and I both landed in this new place, far away from home, due to our our fiancees’ jobs. Over the last few months, we’ve bonded as she shared with me her fears and concerns about being pregnant, knowing that I’ve been through a pregnancy before. I would listen, offer support and spoil her in special ways that my friends did for me. We’ve become so close that she and her husband asked me to be in the delivery room with them for emotional support. I agreed, but in the back of my mind I knew that going back to a hospital on the maternity floor wasn’t going to be an easy thing to do.
I didn’t make it to the hospital in time to be present for the delivery, so when I arrived I sat with the new dad’s Aunt (their only local family member) and anxiously waited. When we were able to enter the room, it was simply incredible to see them as a family of 3 for the first time. My friend was holding her baby with a big smile on her face. We Ooh’d and Ahh’d over the three of them and made some jokes to make her laugh. While the Aunt was holding the new Baby Boy, I stayed by my friend’s side and asked her how she was feeling and how everything went. After a while the Aunt put Baby Boy down on his mom’s hospital bed to look at his feet and see him in all his glory. My friend asked me if I’d like to hold him and I said “yes!” – with what I’m sure was the stupidest smile on my face as I reached for him.
When I picked him up my arms were literally shaking. But as soon as I pulled him close to my chest and sat down it all felt so…familiar. He was perfect. Wide awake and looking right at me. He looked JUST LIKE HIS DAD. I just couldn’t get over how tiny he was (was my son ever that tiny?). Just to have those little eyes look at me and to be the 4th person he’s ever seen boggled my mind. I was honored to be there in that moment with 2 of the sweetest new parents in the world. I was so honored that they trusted me to be there and to hold their son.
I looked up at my friend and she whispered to me, “You look so good with a baby in your arms.”
I stayed for a while, playing Pass-the-Baby, taking pictures of the sweet moments I wanted to capture for them, taking care of my friend and getting her ice water. Eventually, I excused myself so they could have some family time. As I was walking to the elevator, my heart started to race, my knees became weak, and I felt like I was going to be sick. Luckily, it was late enough that there weren’t a lot of people around and I was able to choke back the tears until I stepped into the parking lot.
By the time I got into my car, I was sobbing. In my mind, I was seeing myself walking out of the hospital 5 years ago clutching an empty baby blanket in my arms. I literally felt the pain all over again as I was leaving. Something about walking out of a maternity ward empty handed just hit me in the face like a brick.
When I got home, my fiancé could tell something was wrong and asked if I was ok. The poor guy had to hold me while I cried. I told him how I was feeling and about the flash backs I was having and he just listened to everything I had to say. At one point, I said, “I just don’t know if I’ll ever be strong enough to have another baby.” And he said, “Of course you will, and I’ll be strong with you.” My heart literally melted when he said that. I love him so much.
Today I still feel emotional- almost like I’m in a dream. I’m so insanely excited for my friends and I’m really glad I went to be with them, even though my heart was aching last night. I know it aches because I feel so much love for my son. The aching reminds me that I’m still a mom, just in my own way.