Wednesday, 26 March 2014

ENTRY FOURTEEN - HARVEST MOON

The night Felix was born was a Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. All full moons rise shortly after sunset; but the harvest moon is unique as for three or four days it rises almost immediately after the sun dips below the horizon. This gives the Harvest Moon its evocative name; for several days there is mystical handover from sunlight to moonlight, a drawn out twilight that grants the farmer extra hours in which to continue the harvest. The Harvest Moon is an impatient devil, eager to pop up and join the suns party, chasing him through the sky like a playful dog.


The night my labour began was a Friday 20th September, the first night of the Harvest Moon, and ended in the wee hours of Sunday. The horrors experienced in between can be read in Entry Five To Tend a Rose, but whilst all hell was breaking loose the Harvest Moon shone as bright and ripe as a silver plum. It is thought that a full moon causes a spike in births, and many midwives will testify to the fact that more women go into labour on the night of a full moon than is strictly standard. Thus it stands to reason that on the nights of a Harvest Moon this effect would be stronger still. Certainly, the night I was desperately trying to evict Felix from the womb there was an unusual rush of births at the hospital, specifically of women needing emergency Caesarean sections. Both operating theatres were in full swing for over eight hours, an almost unheard of occurrence or so I'm told, meaning no anesthetist could attend my bedside. One came very close; at one point actually reaching the door of the room in which I writhed and moaned, but was immediately called away to another emergency. Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that these women needed relief more than I did as they were about to be cut open, but when you have been in a back to back labour for over 24 hours it is impossible to appreciate the more pressing need of others.

All this talk of moons cannot obfuscate the fact that this is my attempt to continue, perhaps to speed up, the process of grieving for my birth. To share my continuing pain and sadness and reach others who have also suffered. To try to rid myself of the memory of insufferable pain, a memory which still hangs red raw and dripping like a freshly butchered carcass. I have shed a thousand tears and yet still there seem to be oceans more. The weight of this experience crushes me like no other, and I am left baffled as to how to rid myself of its dragging claws and heal the wounds it has left. As my consultant told me weeks later, there is no pain that compares to it. It is without equal, a whole body pain that grows and swells and mounts and pushes and pulls you till you are beyond thought. Pain exacerbated by the fear of more pain.

As I waited and prayed for respite on the delivery bed, fear was my constant companion. The presence of my most loved and dearest could not alleviate it, I was alone and trapped within a suffocating cocoon of dread. The memory of that fear haunts me like a malicious wraith. It breaks my heart to say there was not a single moment of excitement, of elation, of impatience to see our son enter the world. I simply wanted it to be over, and I feared I would die before it was done. When I hear stories of better births, painful but beautiful, I realise how black my experience was, and I cannot help but feel a keen sense of loss. And yet from the depths of darkness comes light; for when I look at Felix, his beaming smiles and burbling laughs seem to contain all that is good and pure and bright in the world. Every blossom laden branch he marvels at, every swooping bird he blinks at, every time he grabs the cats tail with a squeal of delight I marvel at the miracle of his creation, and my heart swells with love and wonder. 

Six months have passed; six full moons have risen and shone. Time has started its gradual process of erosion, nibbling stealthily at the rock on which I founder, but the process is slow. I cannot move on and say 'Hey that happened to me but I'm over it'. I'm not, and I suspect many women who experienced traumatic births feel the same but are afraid to say, fearful of being dismissed or told in partonising tones, 'Yes, but wasn’t it all worth it?'. 'Of course' I feel like screaming 'Of course it was worth it, but only just. Only just'. As for having more children, I cannot entertain the notion in any serious way, not yet. Maybe at some distant point in the future. Maybe not. Felix may remain the only chick in the nest, and all the more precious for it.

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