Hush little darling, don’t say a word.
The ones who turn into mommas are no longer heard.
Sacrifice your body, hand over your identity.
Hope to God there’s some sort of motherhood affinity.
As a woman, I had heard whispers of the rumor that postpartum women are sorely uncared for. Politics are obsessed with our wombs, doctors are persistently checking our urine for proteins and listening to the fetal doppler as we cook our little humans, and there is nothing but chaos upon the grand entrance of our babies. Once that cry pierces the air, ‘congratulations’ shower all around. Love bombards you. You hardly have anytime to remember your name as your focus shifts haphazardly to the shrill cry bubbling from the brand-new human no longer cozy inside of you. They are a ‘them’ now and it’s overwhelming for all parties involved.
The noise peaks.
Then comes the ‘hush’.
My anxieties were hushed as I white-knuckled my existence through the first few days of human functioning after being torn apart. Those first bathroom trips post-delivery hold their own unique horror.
My body intuition was hushed as I continued to feel ‘off’ 36 hours post-delivery and my blood pressure marched its way higher and higher.
“You’re just nervous to take baby home.”
“You are not calm enough. Just breathe”
Reality finally proclaimed my body’s truth as my blood pressure peaked to the 170s.
“Oops, you have postpartum preeclampsia.”
There was no time to mentally prepare for the 24 hours of pure hell as the doctors started a magnesium drip to stave off the seizures.
“Make sure to pump. Make sure to be present for your baby’s first bath. Make sure to make memories through the blinding, horrific pain of a preeclamptic headache. “
“The medicine is over. Gain your composure and go home.”
Hurry up and make haste through the brain fog. Squint through the retinal damage. Grit your teeth through the lingering headache. You are a mother now.
“Just stare at your little girl, you won’t remember any of this.”
My love for my daughter is fierce, raw, and instinctual. I am protective and our bodies are forever linked. I feel her flow through my veins with every beat of my heart. She is joy.
But this love does not negate my memories.
Trauma is harbored in my body. Health anxiety bounds chaotically within my heart. Whenever I become aware of my heart’s rhythm I am paralyzed with fear for a moment. I flash back to that hospital bed. To the time my eyes failed me. To the needles, the IVs, the hazy hallucinogenic flu the magnesium forced me into. The five days of blinding pain from a cervical tear.
My body remembers the time it lost all faith in itself.
Women’s healthcare fails postpartum mothers.
Our humanness is hushed. Our challenges are shamed.
Our bodies are no longer an incubator. No longer platforms for political gains, no longer medical marvels.
We return to plain ol’ women.
Nonchalantly traumatized women hustling for healing whose strength is so intimidating to our systems they cowardly thrust their heads in the sand. I not so quietly hope they choke on that sand.