The shared, weakened vessel

All parents would willingly risk their lives for the sake of their children. When you have survived a complicated pregnancy, you already have.

As parents, we have an instinct to protect our children, to put ourselves in harms way to prevent harm to our children. I have this instinct, and layered on this instinct I have a second instinct. I put myself in harm’s way before I saw my children’s faces, before I held them, before I heard their sweet sighs. It’s nothing more than other mothers would do if they were faced with the situation of a complicated pregnancy, but it’s an experience that is a part of me.

On top of my maternal instinct is a survival instinct in which the lines between my children and me are blurred. I can close my eyes and still feel the deep sickness in my bones, the wrongness in my blood. I can feel my children draining me, their biological host, as they grew stronger and I grew weaker and more sick. I gave myself over to them, slowly over weeks as I lie immobile on bed rest. Our hearts beat together in our shared weakened vessel. I survived through them as my body began its slow betrayal, just as they survived through me.

I wonder how long it will be until I can forget the feeling of the weakness, the biochemical incorrectness, the feeling of emptiness in my blood as my belly grew fuller. The memory of it drains me even now, and yet it strengthens my resolve in protecting my children as it did before. I risked my life before I knew them as I gave everything I had to bring them both into the world. How much more so would I risk my life now that I know them, love them, held their hand through challenges and adore them and what they are for each other? The complicated pregnancies have put mortar over hard stone.

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