Three would become a significant number for me in the years to come.
It was an awkward dance that night as I struggled with contractions while my husband’s family watched television in my hospital room, totally oblivious to the fact that I was laying there half naked, in labor, trying to sleep.
When I finally gave birth to the first of my three daughters, it wasn’t in the way I had imagined.
I wanted a natural birth full of magic and love and peace.
I got an emergency C-Section that left me confused and disoriented.
I was lying there, trying to get comfortable, #yeahright, when a team of nurses rushed into the room. Machines beeped and I panicked. What was happening? Was something wrong with my baby?
“Her heart rate has dropped. We have to get her out now!” the head nurse said to me as they began pulling open my thin hospital gown and probing my body.
I was wheeled to a surgical room and given medication to numb half my body without knocking me out. All the focus was on my waist down. No one realized that I was nauseous from the epidural. I was going to vomit and I was lying on my back with no way to move.
No one except my husband. He was a medic. And he was paying attention. When I could no longer hold in the contents of my stomach, he stepped in, demanded they give him something with which to suction my mouth, and held my head so I didn’t choke.
All the chaos disappeared the moment I looked in her eyes. Just like my dream. Big brown eyes that were wide awake and full of wisdom. The eyes of God.
Before I was ready, they whisked her away. My heart, independent of my body now, marched down the hospital corridor wrapped in a warm pink blanket.
I thought I knew love–had felt the full breath of it on my skin.
I was wrong.
What I knew was only a mimicry of love. Only the illusion trying to pass as the real thing.
When I looked in my daughter’s eyes, I saw love, felt it moving through me and reshaping my capacity to experience reality.
Her small elfin face spoke to me of times and places long forgotten. She has just come from that realm of magic and had much to teach me.
She is 9 now. I have learned so much from her and her two younger sisters. The love I feel for my girls is so encompassing and unconditional that I can’t imagine a world without them. I can’t even imagine my world before they existed.
I know I had a prior life. I have memories of doing things and know they had not yet entered into my reality. But it’s like a dream or fading memory of a movie. Not real. Not real like their little hands covered in peanut butter. Not real like their pleas for water 30 minutes after bedtime. Not real like their butterfly kisses and nightly snuggles.
No, no reality is complete without them.
So you can imagine my total, unrelenting, hysterical fear when my abusive alcoholic husband kidnapped my 6-month-old baby and didn’t come home.
Or maybe you can’t. Unless you’ve lived it, I don’t think you’ll ever know this fear. It’s a fear that lives in your gut and eats away at your insides, consuming you and destroying you in one hellish night. Slowly, but steadily you lose all ability to remember a life of hope and happiness.
This is pure fear, distilled down to the most basic, primal emotion.
This is what I felt that night.
This is the sixth part of a 10-part series on domestic violence and relationships based on my life that I will be posting every Monday. Please come back next Monday for the next post, One Night and An Eternity of Sorrow, or follow my blog or sign up to receive email updates. You can also like my Facebook Page for updates on my blog, my books and more.