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.