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Your Fifteen is My Fifteen

It was 15 years ago today I felt the twinges of contractions. They say you’ll know the difference and you do or at least I did. It was the middle of the night. I thought I would let the Evil Genius sleep a little longer so I just penned down the times I felt the contractions. The night is a strange time, so dark and full of solitude. I woke him. I couldn’t do it – didn’t want to do it on my own any longer. Of course he was calm but alarmed after he looked over the times I’d written down and realized I was already at 5 minutes between contractions.

No, it was not an easy introduction to my first born. It was kind of scary and surreal. I knew something wasn’t right. Still, I laboured dutifully but ultimately had to have surgery to see my daughter. Like in a movie I was wheeled down the hall, watching the ceiling lights go by as I made my way to the operating room. She was born at 10:07am and except for a quick glance that was the last time I saw her until the afternoon. I didn’t feel anything.

Frozen halfway down I was immobilized. Had I been emotionally drained as well? All I wanted to know was the size of her head, convinced it was a cranium of such magnitude that it prevented her from emerging the “normal” way from me. She wasn’t nearly as big as they predicted in the last ultrasound. She was fine. She was perfect. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes and I had yet to meet her. I was in recovery. She was in the nursery for her special needs after delivery. I sat there waiting.

I was finally allowed to move to my room even though I still couldn’t feel my legs or move my toes. The epidural was taking an exceptional long time to wear off. Then my family and friends arrived. People came to see me. They came to see her. I asked how she was. They all said she was fine. I was jealous. They all got to see my baby before me. They got to describe her nose or her blonde hair with the shock of white patch. What was she really like I wondered? I was anxious. I wanted to see for myself. Finally a nurse brought me a polaroid of her. She was crying. This red faced wrinkled thing attached to tubes was mine? I worried that I was already an unfit mother, no maternal instincts, someone who couldn’t love their child. I felt nothing.

It wasn’t until after 4:00pm, some 6 hours after I gave birth to her that they allow me to see her. Still not moving very well I was wheeled down the hall in a wheel chair anticipating the first true meeting of my daughter. Why was I feeling nothing? I was scared of my own lack of emotion and then I hit the entrance way to the nursery. I didn’t see any of the other babies but I heard one. I’m pretty sure it was mine. I just knew. The flood gates opened. I was wheeled right up beside my tiny child, naked except for a diaper, under lights and tubes and tears rolling down my face. I touched her hand. I soothed her. I asked the nurse if I could hold her. As this wee thing was placed in my care just like that I knew. I knew she was mine, I knew I loved her and I knew I would do anything for her. I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Hello Aurora. It’s Mommy.”

It’s been 15 years since that meeting. Happy birthday to my amazing Aurora, a beautiful, smart and engaging young woman. It is her day but quietly I also mark today, more than in other years as my own celebration. Something that I can’t quite believe as I replay the movie in my mind, that this is the day I became a mother.

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Not Your Father’s Tattoo

Long gone are the days of tattoos being reserved for the military and bikers or for the under belly of society. They have slowly, quietly and consistently made their way into the mainstream. Some body ink is pure artistic beauty. Others, well, they could use a little help. Most tell a story of course – themes of courage, adversity, celebrations and memorials are so common now as they weave their way encircling our skin that we are not shocked by their presence on all sorts of people.

I never really considered a tattoo in my youth. I didn’t think they were bad a thing but I suppose just not my thing. Growing up my Dad had a tattoo on his forearm. It was a youthful lark, without much forethought – it was a heart with an arrow through it and it said “MOM.” He has since had it corrected embellished from its faded, fuzzy outline to a colourful sunburst. Not until I was *ahem* older with kids of my own and with the illness, then death of my sister-in-law did I really consider getting one for myself.

YummyMummyClub.ca asked for submissions for Mom’s with tattoos and their stories. There are hundreds of stories, more likely thousands of stories but here is mine:

I have two tattoos. Each is very significant and important to me. I claim one as “mine” and the other is Joanne’s. Joanne was my sister-in-law. She was a young, beautiful woman I had known since I was 11. She was more like a cherished older sister than an in-law. Joanne battled and succumbed to the evil of breast cancer after a 7 year fight. and fight she did until the bitter, bitter end. She left behind my brother and 3 children. She was 41.

The pain associated with the unfairness of her illness and the eventuality of her death was life altering for me. I wanted a way to connect with her even though she was gone. It took me a long time to find something that was meaningful enough to represented her. I settled on Celtic knot butterfly wings, to celebrate her Irish background and the transformation and freedom imagery joined on the body of the pink ribbon symbol. This September marks the 6th anniversary of her death, but Joanne’s tattoo is a reminder of a life never forgotten.

I got my tattoo at the same time I got Joanne’s. I needed to get something for myself, to balance the sorrow. The spiral is an ancient symbol represented in almost all past cultures. To some it represents life force or motherhood. I chose this symbolism to represent me and my two crazy, beautiful, wonderful girls that I have always affectionately called, my “girlies.” A double spiral—two swirlies, for my girlie whirlies!

You can check out more stories here:

http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/family/mummy/20121004/ymc-rethinks-ink-we-love-tattoos Do you have a tattoo? What is it? Tell me your story!