Just when I think there couldn’t possibly be anything more to write about my experience as a queer, non-gestational mother, some new experience crops up and I find myself dipping into a well that has deeper waters than I initially gauged. But before I dig right in, let me tell you a bit about what has been going on recently; some background if you will. Pardon the the slow build, but it will loop back around to non-gestational parenthood, I swear.
I have been dealing with some pretty bad body pain recently- like in a chronic, near constant way- for about one month. It started with my chest aching, then I had this weird experience where I felt like I couldn’t get a deep breath, then slowly my entire torso started aching. I felt like I had been beat up from just below my shoulders to my hips nearly every day with the pain peaking in the late afternoon and into the evening. I was so very uncomfortable and increasingly scared and anxious about what was going on. Turns out I got a nasty respiratory infection that affected my lung capacity, and therefore my breathing, and also triggered this thing that’s even more nasty called costochondritis that’s an inflammation of the cartilage on my sternum and ribs. Simultaneously my back was aching from years of misalignment due to scholiosis. I think I’ve lived with that last part for a long time, but just tuned out the aching because it was tolerable. With the front part of my torso aching and burning now, the combo was unbearable. The good news: I know what’s going on, it will pass, and I am treating it with chiropractic work and clinical massage, herbal and western anti-inflammatory drugs, an inhaler, loads of water, and trying, as best I can as a working mom, to get even more loads of rest.
One of the secondary results of my health being shaky as of late is that I have been in bed, lying on the couch with an ice pack, and just generally feeling crappy much of the time from when I get home from work until I go to bed. It has made it hard to parent. My spouse has been very understanding and supportive and has definitely stepped up as a parent since I haven’t been able to contribute as much, but I have seen how it has affected, even in this short a time, my bond to my daughter. As I have mentioned before, she is not the most snuggly bunny, which is a bummer, because she is so darn deliciously cute. Snuggling her is a top “to do” on my to do list. Sadly, it is not on hers. So when she pleads here and there, “hold me”, I want to drop everything and do just that. When she is scared or needs a little extra loving and reassurance, it literally pains me to have to tell her Mummy can’t hold her right now. I can hold her hand, but it’s not the same as taking her in my arms and lifting her sweet body up to mine. I heard her talking to one of her stuffed animals the other day saying, “it’s ok pig, rooster’s chest is hurting, but maybe he can hold you another time.” Damn.
So tonight, when she called out for me from her bed (not her Mama, which is a big deal in and of itself) and asked me to come in and rub her back, I did just that. I know she needs to learn how to fall asleep on her own, and she mostly does, but I couldn’t say no right now to a nurturance request that I could actually meet. So I crept into her room quietly, spoke to her in a soft voice and rubbed her small back. Just as I was about to walk away, thinking she was asleep, I felt a small hand come around and hold my arm in place on her back. I melted and rested my head on her mattress, my hand on her back and her hand on my arm, for a few more minutes.