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the true stories

This afternoon I was working in the studio and went into my storage area to grab a few shipping supplies and there it was. This box that I somehow still have in my home after thinking we had gotten rid of it on at least five different occasions.

When I saw it there buried under a box of tags I send with my jewelry, my mind whirled for a minute and then I said aloud, "It's okay to tell the true stories."

So here I am telling it. This piece of the bigger story I just keep unpacking a little at a time as I heal and crack open and mend.

This is the story of a cardboard box that holds the infant CPR DVD and inflatable infant "manikin" that they sent home with us after Ellie Jane was hospitalized at five weeks old.

She was only 7.75 pounds and we were trying to comprehend all that was happening with her heart. Trying to understand that she now had two unrelated heart issues and that she would be going on four medications.

I remember the moment when Jon explained that we had to watch the DVD before they would let us go home. I wonder if he thought I looked like a ghost in that moment when I looked up from holding Ellie who was attached to so many things and just stared at him.

So often during those five days, I felt like a floating head as I stuffed all my feelings into my big toe so I could be ready to make whatever decisions were coming our way.

This is why I started taking mirror photos of how I really felt...so I would know I wasn't disappearing.

When I read about other mothers nuzzling with their little ones who are just weeks old and how they are amazed at how fast they are growing, I think about that ghost of a woman who looked at the nurse and said, "Yes, we will watch the DVD. But I am not practicing on that baby in that box right now." I think about that ghost of a woman who was trying to heal from a c-section while navigating motherhood and all that newborn life brings, and I want to hold her gently in my arms and run my fingers through her hair while she cries herself to sleep.

The true story is that I ache every now and then when I think about the first year of Ellie's life. The true story is that we were sent home with an inflatable baby three days after our own baby almost died and all I could think about was if I didn't keep her alive all I would have left was that box. The true story is that the mending is messy. The true story is that somewhere between there and here I began to realize I need to gently keep mothering myself. 

Sometimes the triggers, the boxes buried under the everyday, become moments where we can just breathe in the truth of what we know and notice what comes up and honor all of it as we create the space to heal just a little bit more. 

Reader Comments (13)

You go girl, it's your blog!!!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThesewingqueen

Such an important story. It's amazing how the big stuff slowly oozes out over time, isn't it? Thanks for sharing your truth. Brave to feel it, and brave to share it.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

A very touching and heartfelt post... I too have photos, memories, diary entries etc. that bring me back to a place that is so, so painfull. However, as you are saying, by honouring those feelings and making space for them, we slowly get to heal...

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane

I have an "annie" in a box too, though not for the same reason as you. Mine was far less dramatic, (preparing us for the Olympics & Paralympics) but I do thing it's rather creepy to open a box and see one. I can't imagine the trauma of being given a baby one under the circumstances you were in. I am glad EJ thrived and healed and is with you today. Just know alot of us have traumatic birth stories we've survived. You are far from alone in this. xox

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLelainia Lloyd

I'm all weepy at reading this, Liz. What a blessed, uncomfortable gift to find that box, to heal a little more, to open the doors of all our hearts to heal more, too.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin Noelle

Hugs to you now and hugs to you as that younger new mom that was so fearful. Keep talking. We moms have to keep telling our true stories. Thank you for sharing.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Thank you for writing this Liz. Thank you.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Beautiful, beautiful story. Brave and amazing, thank you for feeling your way through and sharing.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

To know that you, the teller of your true story, made it through a rough chapter...gives hope to others writing one of their own.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTorii

The true stories, the hard ones, are often worth telling, and often need telling again and again. A hug from another mom who has held a baby attached to too many things while trying to heal from a c-section and trying to grasp the new world she was being thrust into even as part of her desperately clung to her visions of nuzzling with her newborn. It is a lot to face at the time and there is a lot (more than we know) to unpack. I keep thinking I've unpacked and let go of a lot and then something else finds me. Keep telling your story, the messy ones, the hard ones, the true ones. I'll listen.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Oh, oh, oh. I still don't know how you kept breathing, how you kept on. And how long it would take to heal from all of that - I think you'll always be healing. You tell your stories, we're all here to listen. And love.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I'm so glad that Ellie is doing so well now, but I am sorry that you didn't get to enjoy her first year the way many other moms do. I didn't have nearly as scary an experience as you, but I still remember bawling when the hospital photographer came in and asked if I wanted her to take pictures of my baby. I cried, "He's in the NICU," as I pictured all of the tubes he was hooked up to and what a scary picture it made. I feel sad that I didn't get to touch my son until about 12 hours after he was born, and I was only able to have him hold my pinky finger. I didn't kiss him for about 6 weeks after he was born because I had a cold and I was so scared that I would make him sick. I remember picturing him lying alone in the NICU because I wasn't allowed to stay overnight. On my way home from the NICU, I would stop at Target to pick up diapers or other things that I needed that I didn't have yet because I wasn't expecting him so soon. Then, I would go home and lay in the bathtub and cry. Even though I feel sad about that experience, I look at Paxton now, and I am so grateful for how healthy he is and how happy we are now. I'm sure you do the same times one hundred for Ellie. I'm so glad that you're telling your story so that other moms don't feel so alone. I shared the link to your birth story with a friend who had an emergency C-section and whose baby had health issues, and it was so helpful to her.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

I think most, if not all, true stories are incredible. This is one for sure. I feel as if I'm w/you back in time, by your side. However, I can only imagine what that time was like for you & Jon. Thank you for sharing this story, for opening up to all of us, for letting us in a little more. It is a reminder that we all have struggles & we all have much to be thankful for. In gratitude & health, love, alane xo

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralane

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