The pain that never goes away

The pain that never goes away

It happened three years ago, the first time I was cut up and opened; a small incision marked at the junction where belly meets pelvis, a set of hands pushed the right spot and then whoosh- out she came; my child, my daughter, the being that had been swimming in amniotic bliss for the past thirty-seven weeks.

Little Ri was born via a caesarean procedure.

Friends and family came to see her, this tiny pink underweight bundle who bore a head full of thick, jet black hair. Beneath the happiness to welcome a new member into this world was the bubbling question they were all desperate to ask- was it a normal delivery? Seeing my tired face, my mother would quickly intervene with a summary of events- Water broke three weeks early, had to be induced, waited for fourteen hours, heart beat started dropping, couldn’t wait any longer etc. They would understandingly nod and proceed to throw me a sympathetic smile.

So there I was, lying in a comfortable hospital bed, surrounded by the best support system any new mother could possibly hope for, and my joy was tainted by this massive grey cloud. All the months of preparation and prayer, wasted. I had failed. My body had failed, depriving my child and myself of the beautiful struggle of giving birth.

You see, this remorse is not an unjustified one. The world seems to have created this equation for motherhood where her strength is directly proportional to the suffering she has endured. It is the women who go through hours of labor – squeezing and pushing at the right time till crowning commences and then just before they feel like they might die, they hear the wails and it’s all over- who are worthy of being called strong. They did it. They worked with Mother Nature. The rest of us are deemed to have taken the easy way out; the pain of stitches, judgment and regret are inconsequential.

It’s been three years and I wish I could tell you that this sense of disappointment borne out of expectations from society, family, biology and even myself is long gone. Even now when I touch the scar below my abdomen, I don’t recall the moment I saw my daughter for the first time or how I felt when I held her in my arms. I think of other things; how loud the frantic beeping of the fetal heart-monitor which was connected to my abdomen was, how cold the wheelchair felt when I was placed in it and taken away from my family to the operation theatre, how dry my mouth felt when I was given instructions and all the questions I wanted to ask were stuck somewhere between my womb and throat, how the gentle anesthesiologist curved my back and pierced the epidural through my spine, how the sheet that was held up to block my view of the procedure was the ugliest green I’d ever known, how the tears kept streaming as I lay down feeling helpless and numb.

This pain of remembering might never go away and I’m prepared to accept bearing it with the compensating hope that I will discover a million other ways to be strong for my little girl as she grows. My scar will serve as a constant reminder to teach her that sometimes things don’t go the way you hope them to and although the memory will remain forever embedded in your spine and soul, you must get up and move on.

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