Whats Left Behind
Hello, my name is Krystal Donovan Founder and Editor in Chief here at The Village Magazine.
The next series of stories we're about to share with you are some of the closest to my heart. They're a big part of the reason why I've created workshops focusing on life after birth.
As mothers, we hold up half the sky, while holding ourselves to a standard so great we sometimes are unable to live up to them. There are subjects we don't dare speak aloud, for fear of judgement or harsh words whispered by other mothers, and let's not forget our own insecurities.
Birth...it's a miraculous feat, but sometimes being 'marked a mother', as I like to say, leaves marks that cannot simply be covered by a shirt. It leaves some of us with chronic ailments, so how do we deal? How do we cope? We talk...that's the first step. We open up and tell our stories, in hopes that by telling it, we might bring comfort to a mother out there who is suffering in silence.
These words are my truth, honesty at it's best, because sometimes in order to heal you have to share.
December 4th 2014- The house is amazingly quiet, there is only the steady breathing of my children filling the air with sweetness and unbelievable joy. My mother is somewhere in my home busying herself with the things that mothers do. The love is bursting at the seams, spilling through the front door, creeping out of the rooftop, finding it's way into every nook and cranny. Thinking back on the birth of Maxine only four short days ago, truth be told, I didn't see myself here. Her birth, though miraculous, all births are nothing less, was scary. The speed at which she came to this earth shook me to my very core, 4cm to birth in less than 18 minutes will do that to you. There was no thinking, no calm smooth room, no dim lights, just...life, as if someone flipped on a light switch, a few pushes and she was here. When I held her in my arms for the first time, it took me a minute to process what exactly had just happened.
I've faced death more than the normal person probably should have. An adrenalin junkie at heart, I've taken risks, lived life to the fullest, driven faster than any road in the U.S. will allow...but that's another story. After having had my children, caution guards me, life is precious, because they are.
When the moment where you've just brought life into this world for the second time, and are now facing your own mortality arises, fear is so tangible you can cut it with a knife. The room deafens, faces change, and husbands crumble.
I developed, preeclampsia sometime during the last few days leading up to, or possibly during delivery. I watch helplessly as my world turned to a place of confusion and terror. I watched my mothers face break as she spoke the words every mother is trained to speak, "you're going to be ok." I lay there as my body shook uncontrollably, as my speech became twisted and slurred, as my head began to pound. I stared at my mother, trying to read her face as I asked again if I would be alright, to promise me... I'd be alright. I looked down and the little beauty I had just ushered into this space, at my husband who sat helpless, holding our oldest daughter closer than I ever thought possible. I looked at the screen displaying my Blood Pressure, 200/106, and thought, this is happening...right now...the minutes blurred and I chose to hold on as long as I could, to breath as long as I could, to spill all the love onto a child that I just met, because I didn't know if she would ever know me.
It took what seemed like hours for the uncontrollable shaking to dissipate. As the life saving medicine flowed through me, taking my blood pressure down, slowly but surely, the magnesium slowing time as it did it's job of protecting my brain from a seizure or a stroke, which silently I thought I had already had. It wasn't until 4am that I felt I could speak without completely slurring my words. For two solid days I watched at time ticked by, afraid to close my eyes, afraid I wouldn't wake up. I smiled through my fears and made jokes with the nurses, amused my parents and kissed my husband, as the fear ate it's way through me. Then it was time, my 24hrs was up, and I was out of the woods, though I felt lost in the forest. I had never been in this place, I felt as though my body failed, though it did it's duty swiftly. I went into birth confident and present, and left with a fear and a desire to never again play a role in bringing life to this earth. That evening when my children slept I broke, I let the tears finally flow free, leaning on my mother I shouted "this is hard!" I sobbed, angry, sore, and broken. I began to see things that weren't there as my head pounded in my ears, and my vision failed, utterly sleep deprived I finally slept.
It's been a little over a month since Maxine's birth, and though most of the visible physical remnants of her birth has faded. There are some, that I now realize might remain with me for the rest of my life.
A regular chatterbox, since I first learned how to speak, and now words are hard to find at times, like running and all of a sudden, BAM! a brick wall. Sometimes I can work my way around it, and fumble my way through... and sometimes I simply quit speaking. It's frustrating, to know a thing and then not. I wonder what people must think! I've found myself unusually quiet for fear of not being able to verbally finish my thought. I also suffer from ghosts sensations in my face and arms, like a hair is tickling you, or sometimes it'll come in the form of a sharp pain, yet nothing's there, no matter how many times I bat at my cheek...the sensation is frustratingly still there. My tongue feels constantly numb on the sides, like I've been sucking on an ice cube, which doesn't make talking any easier.
You're not alone mama, you don't have to suffer in silence any longer. Life may be hard at times, things happen that are outside of our control...but life moves on, the light will shine again, let your children guide the way.
photo by: Shelby Clark