Sunday, September 02, 2007

A modern, moulting mother

Since last you heard from Princess Morag she has joined the ranks of motherhood; from the time discovered she was with child, and even more so after the birth, she has held all mothers everywhere and especially her own, in much greater esteem. And despite a slight grief over the loss of the possibility of natural childbirth she mostly felt serious relief that she escaped the pain of labour and, in the words of Sir Keith, "squeezing a person out of her person"!

Three weeks on, Princess Morag is delighting in her son: Master Ryan James Valentine, who has taken the name of his father for his first name and the names of his great, great, great grandfather for his middle names. She is finding that the bond between mother and child is growing stronger as he begins to reveal a greater likeness to herself in his face as the days progress. At first, perhaps as a result of the method of delivery, it was strange to share all her space and time with this small infant; was he really the same creature who had inhabited her womb for 38 weeks? He was handed to her from behind the screen shielding her from the mysterious surgery that took place in her conscious but numb body and she reassured herself that he must be the same baby whose first cry instantly brought tears to her eyes, and looked so beautiful when he was brought to her to lie (heavily) on her chest very soon after.

Even before she conceived, Princess Morag was a strong proponent of breastfeeding and scoffed at the idea of bottlefeeding: what a hassle having to sterilise bottles, and what an unnecessary expense! She now finds herself trying to remember what time the last feed was, in order to know when the next lot of bottles must be ready for....but at least Master Ryan likes milk at room temperature - no having to queue for the bottlewarmer when she is out and about! (Bottlewarmer???? - who knew such things existed until the new world of motherhood begins to open up to you in ante-natal classes!) So what went wrong? Several things. Most of which were completely out of Princess Morag's realm of control. So she grieves over another loss of being able to do things naturally, especially as she had been holding dearly to the idea of breastfeeding throughout her pregnancy in order to make up for all the medical intervention that had been required from the very beginning. Although Princess Morag knows that her grief is a real and valid response to all that she has gone through in the last nine months, she has now been able to reflect on this transition to motherhood and wonders if she must simply accept, and once again be thankful for the 'miracles of modern medicine'.

This is where Princess Morag thinks of the differences between her and her husband. Sir Rianus is an historian of medieval times, and would probably have lived happily as a gallant knight in the middle ages. Princess Morag struggles to put aside the whole issue of no decent living conditions (she likes her castles with central heating!) and despite at heart being a dreamer, the fact of the matter is, if she had been born in that time, she and her mother would have died in childbirth and there would have been no Princess Morag to marry Sir Rianus, and definitely no little Master Ryan twenty-seven years later!

Princess Morag has a whole series of reasons to be grateful to doctors and nurses and all the other healthcare workers she has come across in her life, probably part of the reason she chose the career she did. After all, they saved her life and kept her alive when she arrived ten weeks prematurely and weighed so little. Her local family doctor eventually worked out what was wrong with her when she would collapse and stop breathing as a toddler! The surgeon operated twice on her heart and the second time mended it as completely as possible. The little pills prescribed to her for the last twenty years ensure that her life is not endangered by blood clots building up on the artificial heart valve that works so much better than the one God gave her! The radiographers can check her heart function using ultrasound, the same technique that checked that her baby was OK in the womb. The nurse showed her how to inject the alternative medicine that would continue to keep Princess Morag from getting blood clots but wouldn't cause harmful effects on her developing child. The fact that there are alternatives to the natural ways of life, has saved Princess Morag at every step of the way, so she thanks God that it has been so. Even if he is the "ancient of days", He has been in control of all the modern intervention in her life so she shall continue to thank Him for the intervention in the life of her child, including the invention of milk formula despite 'breast being best'.

Adjusting to motherhood is taking a bit of time, but there are many reasons to celebrate, of course the foremost is the new member of our new family! But leaving behind pregnancy brings renewed pleasure in little things that had to be sacrificed for a time e.g. pate, brie and wine! Reclaiming her body for herself, although it is changed forever, also pleases Princess Morag. When Master Ryan gets the hiccups now she finds it much easier to sleep through the little noise compared to the pulsing sensation she used to feel in her belly. But one of the downsides to being on the other side of pregnancy is that all the hair that chose not to fall out during pregnancy now decides it is time and when you have long hair like the Princess this causes significant hair coverage of the whole of the castle apartment; it is definitely time for Sir Rianus to get vacuuming!