A Mother’s Vulnerability

With each child I had, I increased my level of vulnerability. If I had had no children at all, then my odds would be good. In other words, I could avoid the possibility of complete devasatation by having anything happen to my flesh and blood. When I had my first child, I was nervous and somewhat anxious, to get it all right. I educated myself, tried to learn from others, ate right, drove right, bought the right toys and breastfed for a couple of years. I joined a food coop and ate organic foods before it was the rage.

When I had my second child, I even had a home birth so as to safe guard the event from the moment he hit the earth. I was an even better mom now and got things right. I was amazed by this kid as well and followed his lead much of the time. I learned that. I did not feel so vulnerable then except for the warnings around about keeping your children safe from strangers and predators. But, I was never really a hovering parent and consoled myself with the ratiionale that those predators were probably estranged spouses.

With my third child, I was becoming a real earth mama. I wanted to be the La Leche League mom I would see at a conference who had lots of kids eating rice cakes, wore a baby sling and seemed cool and calm. I pushed my husband to have another baby, even though he was hesitant. This baby was also born at home and nursed even longer.

Baby number four was a surprise. I was 42 years old and we were in a terrible financial crisis in the late 80’s. With a new house and three kids, I was frankly, embarrassed to be pregnant. But, after a long and difficult birth, I pushed out that 101/2 pound, fourth son and fell madly in love. I was beginning to feel vulnerable during this pregnancy and wanted to know if he was healthy due to my age. My anxiety was increasing throughout the nine months and I remember my LLL leader saying to me, “Look, it would be nice if we had a Velux window in our bellies so we could see how the baby is, but we don’t so just relax.” I still wanted the Velux window and even had an amniocentisis. All looked well, but I was nervous.

That precious baby, Gregory drowned in a swimming pool when he was two years old. Life, denial, safety, faith, joie de vivre, would never be the same again. I have felt vulnerable and terrified ever since. I live my life in fear but fight every day to avoid sharing that with anyone else. I don’t want to ruin their lives.

I couldn’t get pregnant after Gregory died and had to go through infertility treatment. Many fears, off the charts anxiety and vulnerability reared their ugly heads again. The twin pregnancy was over wrought with fear and terror day in and out. I had to make sure no devastating events took place. The hospital birth was nothing like my at home ones. I was too afraid to proceed with labor and early on, I requested a c-section. Me, who railed against such things, who encouraged hundreds of women to read and believe each word of “Silent Knife,” had an elective c-section.

I struggled to get a full milk supply in for both babies. Feared that I would not. It took tremendous effort to do so, but in the end, I did. Now, I have two kids who I fear for and they are wild ones so it is hard as I look the other way most of the time, in order to survive.

My feeling is this… I am six times vulnerable and I cannot stand thinking that. It is not normal to feel this way. The more I have gained, the more I fear I have to lose and it is only my children and my husband that I fear losing. What was I thinking taking risk after risk after risk? It must have been during one of my high strong faith times where I still believed that all would be well. It is not.