It's been three years, and it still rattles the contours of my being.
I thought by now this day would pass without sharp memory or ruffling emotion.
But the end of January still drags a well trodden carpet of interference and fear.
It's Little A's birthday party...
It's Little A's birthday party...
...She's running around waving a sausage balloon, dancing among wandering bubbles, tearing in and out of pint-sized friends. I wish I could jump into her moment of joy, abandon myself in the thrills of the three year old before me.
But my awareness is pulled by the rough edges of anxiety. I worry about the noise of the bouncy castle. I fret over the timings of the entertainment, the arrival of the sandwiches. Has the cake been plated? Are the party bags ready? But my uneasiness doesn't belong to the detail of this playful gathering but to the images, like battle hungry soldiers, taking position in my mind.
The little party-goers stand around in a circle, each hand holding onto the silky thin sheet. They lift it above their heads, then with gentle wafting, send delicate ripples through the red and yellow stripped material.
Waves of intense pain, breaking forcefully on vertebrae, prove too much. The consultant makes her final decision - a c-section must be performed without delay.
An entertainer performs a magic trick with silly string, firing a stream of airborne worms into soft hair and onto the accepting tips of small fingers.
The trolley hurtles through double doors. She's going to die - she's going to die - she's going to die. The room is white and sterile. A green curtain divides my limp body into two zones; the operated half, the terrified half.
Little A waits in anticipation on the birthday girl chair. Candles are lit and a large, rectangular cake is placed before a beaming face. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear....
On the table a knife cuts through the soft sponge of vanilla flesh sending a deep voltage of shock through every cell.
For she's a jolly good fellow, for she's a jolly good fellow, for she's a jolly good fell-ell-ow. And so say all of us...
The magic is performed to an unwanted lyrical backdrop of the Fugees, Killing Me Softly - a blue floppy baby, conjured from a fissured belly.
There's a pile of presents wrapped in pinks and yellows and greens;"Mummy, mummy can I open them now?" "Wait till we get home sweat heart." It's been a jubilant celebration. A grand success.
I leave with a party bag of shallow breath; of anger; of shame; of intrusive visions where rats carry my baby away or she burns in a pit of fire; of an alien scar etched on once familiar skin; of a removal van that relocates me far from the visceral urges of my body into the cerebral detachment of my mind; of fear; of anxiety; of sadness.
But it's not so bad now, the trauma, I understand that the visual intruders, the anxiety, were birthed from one stark thought, she's going to die. And of course, she didn't. And I didn't. But it's taking time to rediscover the physical, to play in my body again. Breathing helps ... as does the awareness and frustrating acceptance that the frightening thoughts, the wellspring of anxious feelings, may sometimes bubble over and colour the everyday, especially during the weeks surrounding my baby's birthday.
Happy birthday Little A.
The cut, the shock, the wounding has been worth every second for the privilege of having you in our lives.
A lovely person(s) has voted Older Mum in a Muddle for Blog of the Year and Best Writer in the MADS Awards. Thank you very, very much. It's wonderful to feel appreciated. And if you are feeling in a generous mood today, please vote for me in the The Best Writer category or Blog of The Year if you feel my musings qualify.