Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In praise of my Mother

For an Irish woman in her late 70's, whose biggest family planning issue in her early married life was trying to figure out how not to get pregnant, my mother totally gets what I'm going through. Professionally, her background is in nursing, and even though she gave up her career fifty years ago when she got married, her understanding and caring nature still shines through. She always asks how we're getting on, and how the treatment is going, and if there is something she doesn't understand, she will ask an intelligent question. It was actually her who first told me about the clinic we are now attending. Her friend's daughter had two miscarriages before she went to the people we are with, and she has since had I think two children. Mam's friend mentioned it to her, and she passed on the details to me.

When I had my first miscarriage, I rang her up, bawling crying down the phone. Once I calmed down enough to tell her what was wrong (I must have given her the fright of her life), she displayed such an incredible sense of empathy towards me. She too had suffered a miscarriage, on her fifth pregnancy, in the mid 1960's. The way she talked about the baby she lost, and the grief she went through, made it seem like it was still so fresh in her memory. She offered no platitudes, no dismissing statements of the "you just have to forget about it" variety, only words of comfort, because she had never forgotten her lost little one, and never will.

She told me about my brother who never made it. She was three months pregnant when she miscarried. She told me he was the only baby whose name they had picked that far in advance. She had the gut feeling that she was having another boy, her fifth, and she called him Hugh. She found out afterwards that she had indeed miscarried a perfect baby boy. She recounted the grief she felt, her mother's appalling lack of sensitivity towards her loss. Apparently Granny wrote her a stinker of a letter berating her for getting pregnant again, and told her to put Dad in the spare room. Where she thought they were going to conjure up this spare room when they already had 4 kids in a small house is anyone's guess. She told me that Hugh always had his place in our family, and always will. He would have been around 44 years old if he had lived. She remembered him on the days when he should have been starting school, making his first communion, confirmation, starting secondary school, doing his leaving cert, all the milestones that the rest of us went through in life.

Last week we were chatting on the phone and she was asking me how I had gotten on at my last hospital appointment. I told her I had been given a date for my laparoscopy and told her briefly what it entailed. The following evening, she rang me back, asking me was it this week I was going in for the surgery, she couldn't remember the date and she just wanted to make sure. I told her it wasn't until the end of the month, but that I was heading out to the nurse to get my monthly blood test, so fingers crossed. She said "ok then, your Dad and I will say the rosary especially for you and your blood test results tonight". How sweet is that? I remember her doing the same thing the night before my divorce court hearing. I just laughed and told her she wasn't allowed to pray for an easy divorce, but she reckoned God wouldn't mind. She must have been on a direct line to the Man above that night, because the hearing went off hitch free.

I don't know if I will ever tell her about this blog, or even if I did, she would hardly know how to turn on the pc, never mind get on d'internet, but whether or not she ever reads this, I just want to say, thanks Mammy, for being you.


Xbox4NappyRash said...

That's special.

What I wouldn't give.

womb for improvement said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman.

Like xbox (why does he always get here first, and why does he always say what I want to?!) I so wish I had my mum around to talk to.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

I get here first because both Jane G and I seem to have similar respect for our employer's time and resources ;0)

I always say what you want to because, I am in fact, the triplet you never knew was born 4 minutes after you. Or coincidence, whichever suits.

Jane G said...

I knew it, Xbox, you're the evil triplet!