Hospital gowns always trigger my PTBS, Post Traumatic Birth Syndrome. 8/8/08 was the date. For some it was auspicious, but for me it meant 3rd tier nurses, 3rd degree tearing and attention starvation.
Some mothers out there swallowed spicy foods, walked miles and indulged in other R-rated activities, just to meet, greet and count their little one’s fingers and toes. I asked to be induced two days early, just to beat the rush.
27 babies were born that day. My daughter was born in under 27 minutes. I was in labor for over 27 hours, 34 to be exact. My body endured more than 27 stitches, maybe even 100. The doctor stopped counting at 60.
Those see-through, blue and white gowns are our combat uniforms. They only come in one size and that is size “Mother”. They are the last fashion we flaunt before we begin to understand the breadth of our “size”.
As mother’s, we are warriors. Some of us take a beating at childbirth. Others begin the battle and dawn those gowns even before conception with IUI and IVF. In my eyes, those are the true warriors. They cannot bear not to be mothers, so they put their bodies through the ringer. They deserve to garner the Maternal Medal of Honor.
We have tattooed, war paint on our arms that only other mother’s can see. We feel compassion when we see a mother internally screaming, when her child isn’t listening. Our troops share the camaraderie of the unknown we face. We share our stories to save others from making the same mistakes. We question our decisions and actions over and over, even after they are made.
I had heard so many stories about difficult pregnancies, but no one ever told me that it was the afterbirth that could make me break. There was pain to stand, walk and sit, all with a screaming soundtrack and lack of sleep.
For most, the ride into motherhood isn’t only 9 months. It starts months before and lasts for months after the minute you meet your new best friend. I know all of us wish we could change one thing about our experiences, wish we were warned about certain physical changes or wish we could have lifted the fog so we didn’t so easily forget the wonderful sensations we felt.
I wish someone had told me to stop and really see my daughter, so I could remember every second about her early growth. That I hadn’t been so caught up in the shock and just relaxed and enjoyed the ride. That the pain would subside, but I would be blessed and lucky to have her. That someday the physical stress would be so much less. That it would feel like another life and I wouldn’t know what it felt like to not be a mother. That I would forever pee a little everytime I laughed, but that I would be happy.
I wish I had brought a CD player and blared Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down, just to feel more fired up. I wish I had designed my own uniform and wore make-up, just so I wouldn’t be embarrassed to show pictures of the best day of my life.
As mother’s, we should never forget to share our stories with the fresh faces that are marching to the front lines.