Ellie has been trying to invert her stomach for about ten hours now. She woke excited to go to Point Reyes beach with some friends of ours, but very soon was moaning and holding her belly. Since then, her total consumption of sustenance by mouth has been 4 sips of Sprite, a popsicle and a mouthful of electrolyte water. Each stayed down approximately 4 minutes. The family barf bowl is putting in overtime.
In my attempts to help her as she struggles, I have found myself leaning on my doula training a lot today. I am in awe of her automatic responses to her body cues. As she heaves I reach for her back and she pulls my hand away. I see her go though waves of grief at the loss of her trip, and over the surges of pain she feels, and I tell her it’s going to be ok. She stares at me blankly, and I want to feel so sorry for her (and I do), but I let my twisted brow relax to reflect peace to her, so she believes she will be alright. She says “I hate today!” feeling so out of control, and I say I know, like I do when a mama in labor bellows “This really hurts!” She wants me here. Not to touch her. She doesn’t want talk or books or distraction. She just needs mama.
A few weeks ago as I filled out the kids re-enrollment forms for school, I came across the fill-in I hate.
“What am I supposed to put here?” I complained aloud. SAHM? No one really respects that. It gets a token “motherhood is the hardest job in the world” remark, but in all sincerity, there is not a word that I could write that explains what I have spent today - and every day- doing. Any one word I could think to write seemed to belittle the true experience of motherhood.
“Put doula, or freelance artist, or property manager” Guy suggested helpfully. Yes, I do those things, but not full time. It’s not my big job. It’s not who I am.
Finally, I put pen to paper: