Before Getty was born, I liked to think of myself as a woman in control. However when Getty got here, frankly, I was scared and my sense of control went out the window. I was realizing very quickly that this little lady was now in the drivers seat. A couple of reasons I was scared was really surfacing because I had never “done” this before and the last time I had actually been around an infant, and mind you for only moments was about 25 years ago. That was when everyone wanted a sweet baby. I was about 10 years old. 🙂 As I aged, I looked at babies with a slightly different lens. Babies became “slippery”, “loud”, “awkward”, and just overall complicated. My maternal instinct was certainly not kicking in my twenties. I had so much to do, so much to accomplish, so having a child was not on my radar. Friends of mine started to have families and babies were included. While I was so happy for their growing families, I still wasn’t quite relating.
As I have said, I did have a lot of aspirations to take care of before I decided to have children, but honestly, the kids scared me. Children are such fragile human beings and I needed to get my head straight and secure before a child came into my life. They are the most important living beings in the world, in my opinion. They deserve immediate attention, they deserve to be nurtured and embraced in loving homes. I wanted to do this right and waiting for me was the right way.
On March 25th, 2010, Getty came into this world. After what seemed like 10+ months of pregnancy, she graced Mark and my life with an amazing smile and the eyes of a philosopher. I could not have been more overwhelmed with love and scared at the same time. “I have to do this right”, is seriously what I kept repeating as they wheeled me and sweet Getty to our recuperating room.” I waited to have her for so many reasons, she deserves everything and I need to do this right”.
Jumping into the role of mother was not as easy as I had envisioned. After reading way too much online and advice from friends, motherhood was just supposed “kick in”. Well it didn’t for me for some reason. It had nothing to do with Getty in any way. It was my inability to shut off my life prior life and realize that, “my past life will never be again.” I knew that, but I didn’t know that.
One aspect of being scared that did not go away, as much as I tried to kick into motherhood, was I continued to worry that I would somehow hurt Getty. I was so scared to drop her. Even though the % of me doing this was seriously such a crazy small chance, there was still a part of me that was so freaked I would have an accident. And then, how on earth do I explain that. So my remedy was to not hold her. I snuggled Getty, I touched her and played with her, but it was rare that I held her upright against my body. There were lots of times that I walked round the house holding her, but it was not as frequent, looking back as I would have liked. When we would walk to the park I would put her in the little baby bjorn. I loved feeling her body against mine, but again, she was so strapped in and safe, I wasn’t so anxious. I lovedwalks together. She would babble and squeal and I felt great because I could safely “hold” her.
So here we are, Getty is now an incredible two and a half. Every day that she graces us with her vivacious spirit is such a blessing. However there is one thing that will probably always eat at me as her mother.
I can’t hold Getty anymore, well literally, safely. I haven’t been able to over a year. We snuggle and she lays on my stomach with the help of Mark, but I can’t hold her anymore. I have tried different positions, but we can’t seem to get in a position that is comfortable for her and also allows us to suction her quickly. I can’t tell you how sad that makes me. I always wanted to be able to hold her on my hip or hold her with the body in front and snuggling next to mine, upright. Or to be able to throw her over my shoulder and pat her little butt. But I can’t. Because of SMA, Getty’s muscle tone is so diminished holding her in certain ways can dislocate something, it could cut off her breathing clearance, and can do harm to her.She lacks the ability to hold her body in a position by herself. So if I am concentrating on her head, her legs are dangling below her and are adding discomfort to her hips, etc.
So of course we find all kinds of different ways to “hold” her. Spooning is the best I’d have to say. Having her lean up against the side of my body is nice as well. Anything we can think of to position her close to me, while also being safe for her.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy is cruel in so many ways. The simple need to want to hold your baby upright in your arms, to protect, to comfort is pretty much impossible now.
I find it ironic that I was scared to hold her before diagnosis and I am now forced to be scared to hold her now after diagnosis.
I missed my opportunity to get all my good momma hugs in early. Had I known SMA was a part of the equation, poor Getty would have never been allowed to be out of my arms. 🙂
Externally, one might think that I grieve certain aspects of what Getty lacks the ability to do. Walking, eating, swallowing, moving independently, etc. But honestly I don’t grieve any of those things. I never have and I don’t think I will. I am pretty in tune with myself to know that. What is the point? Why would I need to add anymore anxiety of stress or sadness to this intense situation? I know Getty would sense it. Independently, Getty can’t walk or stand. Well we can remedy that. She has a stander, a stroller and very soon a power chair. Believe me when she gets that power chair, watch out. We are so excited to give her that kind of independence. Eating has never been a loss emotionally for me either. To ensure safety and security of proper nutrients, the g-tube was the answer. No question about it.
There may be there might be some psychology behind this as well. I never saw Getty walk. It was never a part of the component to grieve. Maybe had she walked and I saw first hand how it was taken away from her, maybe I would feel differently. We did get a chance to watch Getty eat solid food though. That is a memory we will always have. I think we tried oatmeal and it was a riot. Watching her open her mouth and swish it around and then swallow was very cute. But once the worry of her aspirating on food hit us, there was no question, she would stop eating orally. There are still days when we let her “taste” things and she really enjoys that. She really likes her toothpaste oddly enough. 🙂
My grief come in waves. Some days I feel like the most powerful mama in town, while other days I don’t feel so sturdy. I wish I could have taken advantage of my days with Getty prior to diagnosis. I wish I held her more, I wish I would have “gotten over” my fears as a new mommy and just held her more than I did. I think that will always be that one thing that will always stick with me. I can feed her, I can help her stand and walk, but I can’t hold her in the way I think we should be able to as mother and daughter.
Getty is an amazing little girl. She is so loving and so sweet to us. The other night, Getty and I laid in bed getting ready to go “neenies” and Mark came in to wish us goodnight. We both have no idea what was so funny, but she giggled for what seemed like 5 minutes straight. Just when she stopped, she would start again. Mark and I were in tears laughing with her. She has the sweetest little laugh. I think all the laughing tired her out, she was out cold soon thereafter. It is memories like that when you wish you had a video camera in EVERY room. It is memories like that, that I forget why I was grieving in the first place. We know we have tons more memories to make and we know that our giggle monster will surely replicate that at some point.