Beautiful Blessing by Victoria Ribbons
I am so happy. Blooming they call it.
We worry about you -
mummy must still take her tablets.
To make her better, to keep us safe.
We stare at you on the screen,
Our bouncing bean. Our precious little girl.
I do not know why but sadness encompasses me
It drowns me, it steals my bloom.
One minute you’re there in my belly
I know you’re there, constantly jabbing, reminding me
I don’t quite know what I think of you but
You can’t come out yet, you’re too small -
Everywhere is in pain, all over, all-consuming pain
My head aches, my body hurts, you’re killing me.
My body bulges.
I want you out, I want it over. Hurry up.
I am laid out on my back. White. Sterile smell.
Tugging, pulling, fighting. Talking.
You are torn out of me three months too early
I glimpse you, you are rushed away.
You live in a box, I don’t see you for three days
Everyone else does.
You’re beautiful, I’m told, a real fighter.
I didn’t want you out, I didn’t want it over. It’s too late.
The guilt has set in, I see you
I stare at you, you’re not mine
I look at the six neatly lined up boxes -
Anyone of you could be mine, I am wheeled to one in the corner
I am consumed with feelings, not the ones that I thought I would feel
You are so tiny and helpless, I am meant to feel
Veins shine through your limp little body
Your skin is so delicate, I am scared to touch you.
Tubes keep you alive.
Beeping, beeping, shrieking
Weeks pass, we get through it
I act as I am meant to
You come home, I think we are happy,
Short lived. You stop breathing.
You are resuscitated,
We wait outside. More tubes
I cannot cope, It is too much
We start the journey again
Weeks pass, we get through it
You come home again
I feel – well I don’t
I let my badness out through my blood
I should not be near you, not hold you for too long
I am bad for you, deadly.
I keep it up. I am living a lie. Just smile.
Thoughts, flicker – I drive us into a river in my head.
Weeks pass, I cannot carry on any longer, I don’t know how to get through it
Silent screams, crying silently.
I take pills, it does not work.
I try to jump from a cliff.
Police cell, empty, hospital, home, more pills.
Blur. No baby. Thank God they know – “I am not fit to be a mother.”
Psychiatric hospital. I have been engineered incorrectly. Some piece is amiss.
Four walls. Strange people. No mummy’s cuddling their babies – relief
No one knows my secret
My baby is at home and I can’t look after her,
I hide in the bathroom -
leaning against the hard cold wall,
I hear the alarms, the slamming. The screeching. It’s terrifying.
Is this my punishment because I do not know how to be a mummy?
I shouldn’t be here. It wasn’t meant to be like this.
I look down and I am captivated by baby wipes, four hours -
I stare at the mum passionately gazing at her chubby content and loved baby
They look so happy. So perfect.
I start crying, flooded, choking the tears.
I am angry. Fuming. I am so unbelievably lost.
I bang my head on the wall, they stop me with towels
Why am I not with her? Where is my baby?
The guilt. Saturating guilt. Does she know I am gone?
Probably not, why did she have to be born to me?
Weeks pass. I drift further.
Each day in hospital makes the gap bigger.
I am becoming less of a mother, it’s dying within me – drying up with my milk
Another failure. She is brought to see me.
I can barely look, her cry rings terror through me.
Something so tiny, this fighter, she has ruined me.
They fought for me, for us. I had lost hope.
A mother and baby unit.
We had to travel a long way but we were going to a place -
for mothers who have lost their way with their babies.
The Chamomile Suite.
It was terrifying. I had to confront you.
We stayed for three long months.
Your daddy and your brother would travel hours every weekend to see us,
It is slow.
It is painful and it is unremitting.
Dealing, scrutinising what went wrong.
Trying to fill that missing piece of the puzzle.
I’m terrified, I don’t think I can do it.
It’s meant to be natural,
In the first look.
The first touch. The first smell.
17 leave Section
They miss these sections out of antenatal class.
Sun gleams through into the courtyard -
I look at you.
You are beautiful.
It is not your fault.
We will get there.
There is nothing more.
To love or to be loved.
We are home, I have stopped scrabbling, stopped searching
‘bond’ – what does that mean?
I feel flashes of hope and love -
Of protection, Of fear.
It’s growing, slowly around us,
Tiny moments, sometimes so quick. But I savour them.
I will do it, one day I will look in the mirror and say -
“I am your mummy and you mean the World to me.”
Ribbons VA. Med Humanit (2012). doi: 10. 1136/medhum-2012-010233