Guest Post: Premature Birth

by TMarie

On Mother’s Day last year I found myself pregnant with my second child (a girl), dealing with an intense fear that she would be born early. My pregnancy was considered high risk for this due to the fact that my son was born 7 weeks premature, which caused him to spend 4 weeks in the NICU. There were no warning signs of preterm labor with my first pregnancy and my doctor didn’t have any kind of explanation either–I had even just had a sonogram and an exam 5 days before I went into labor where my doctor reassured me that everything looked great. I was lucky to have made it to the hospital at all. I found a lot of blood after going to the bathroom and that’s why I had come in, when I got there I was already 8.5 cm dilated and I hadn’t felt any contractions at all. My son’s premature birth was spontaneous and had no known cause. I was paralyzed with fear that it would happen again.

On this Mother’s Day I had also found myself in the intense beginnings of a faith crisis after realizing that many of the teachings of the church regarding gender roles and women left me feeling inferior and unloved as a daughter of my Heavenly Father. I was feeling particularly betrayed after searching for information about Heavenly Mother, which I had always understood to be half of what we call “God” and proof of the eternal worth and the gospel’s honoring of women, and finding President Hinckley’s prohibition on praying to Her. I had asked my husband for Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s book Mother’s Milk as my Mother’s Day gift in hopes of finding some balm to my soul on the silence surrounding a divine feminine. It was so beautiful and affirming of my feelings. The book really resonated with me. It inspired these poems about the parallel of the feelings of disconnection and powerlessness I felt during my first month as a mother, which were now resurfacing during my second pregnancy, and my sudden yearning for a relationship with my Heavenly Mother.

Premature Birth I

I wake up
Frantically searching for my baby
He is not inside my womb
He is not beside my breast
Where is my child?
What has gone wrong?

I look up
Frantically searching for my Mother
She is not inside His House
She is not beside His Image
Where is my Mother?
What has gone wrong?

Premature Birth II

I wake three times a night
Breasts engorged, spilling milk
A machine in place of my baby
Twenty minutes each side
Pain in my breasts and my uterus
My heart
Wide awake, longing for my child
Wondering if he is lonely
This is all I can do for him
Carefully store and label
Until I can deliver the nourishment he needs

Is my Mother spilling over with nourishment for me?
Carefully expressed and stored
Longing for Her child
Wondering if she is lonely
Waiting for her to cry out in hunger

Premature Birth III

I sit staring at his little body
Incubating with tubes and wires
Only allowed to hold him once a day
Obsessively watching the lights and noises on the machines
Waiting from moment to moment
For another breath
I am his mother, yet I can do nothing
Feeling hopeless and useless
Wondering if he knows
I am beside him

Is this how She feels?
Unable to hold us
To talk to us
Watching from moment to moment
For another breath
Wondering if we know
She is beside us

TMarie is a Texan and mother of two sweet babes.

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2 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    Wow! Beautiful and poignant post. Thank you for sharing. The LDS teachings surrounding a heavenly mother are so unnatural to motherhood. How can a mother be so “sacred” that she needs to be separated from her children? What mother is too delicate to provide comfort to her suffering children? Why would children ever be forbidden to seek their mother?

  2. AdelaHope says:

    This is such a good metaphor for our relation to Heavenly Mother, and I really appreciate your perspective and your poetry. I hope your baby comes safely and at a good time, and that you are spared from anxiety.

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