“The moment a child is born, the mother is born. She never existed before. The woman existed bt the mother: never.”
When I was a little girl, very young all I dreamt of was being a mother and having a family. I was so excited when my younger brother was born because I took care of him. I laid in his crib, fed him his bottles, and up until he was maybe eight rubbed his back and read him stories until he fell asleep. I was like a mom to him and wanted to protect him from anything that could hurt him. I never played anything as a child but “house.” I had my bedroom full of dolls, doll beds, doll bottles, etc. The one thing I kept from my childhood was my cabbage patch kid: Darcy. Fast forward to elementary school and I did great with school. I am ditzy and not always book smart but I always wanted to get my dad’s approval and make him proud. However, I still had my one dream: to have a family and be a mom. When people would ask me: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I answered without hesitation: “A mom.” People did not like that answer and followed with a second question: “Oh, that is great but what do you want to be, you know do for a living?” My answer had not changed: “I want to be a mother and take care of a family.” After years, I changed my answer because even back in the nineties “being a mom” was not good enough. I loved pretending I was a teacher and had a chalk board in my basement and I loved writing. My answer to adult questions regarding: what I want to be when I grew up slightly changed: “I want to be a mom, teacher, and writer.” Phew, all true but really I just wanted to be a “homemaker” and take care of a husband and my children. Even back then I wished it was the fifties because (and I am so for women’s rights) being a mother and homemaker was the norm for women and respected and enough. My dream of being a mother and having a family never went away. That is why my bike accident and subsequent brain surgery and chronic pain killed me: I would never be able to be a mother.
For people who have chronic pain, but more importantly for those who do not please read the following few sentences carefully. I almost died twice. The day I fell off of my bike I landed head first into a stone wall and broke some bones but stubborn Jessica would not accept the help from the cars that pulled over and I pushed myself to walk home. Once home, I saw that my dad was not there (cell phones did not yet exist) so I put a VHS on (like a DVD, only bigger—I’m old, I know.) I must have fallen asleep during the movie because my dad awoke me. He looked at me and took me straight to the nearest emergency room. Once there, we waited and waited to be seen just to get a sling for my arm as my collar bone had broke and some bandages for the minor wounds. All set to go home and was discharged. Halfway out the hospital doors, I began to vomit which is the first sign of a head injury. The doctor told my dad that I needed to get a cat scan of my brain “just in case” something was wrong. Ten minutes later I was being rushed in an ambulance to the nearest trauma unit for immediate brain surgery. My brain had been bleeding on the inside for way too many hours and time was running out. I should have died and years later wished that I had. The last thing I remember was my dad saying goodbye and nurses cutting off my clothes and shaving my head. Clearly, I lived. Still amazes me that I survived but nothing prepared me for chronic pain. Chronic pain was not a common diagnosis back then and there were no such terms as spoonies, warriors, etc. I spent a third of my life searching for a cure for my chronic pain. My full time job, when not in school was that search: neurologists, dentists, acupuncture, more surgeries, every medication you can imagine from Neurontin to Percocet. Nothing worked. I still entered college and declared my major: elementary education. I had not yet given up hope for a cure so while in school continued going to specialists. Two years later I gave up. I dropped out of college and drove to Colorado pretending I wanted to go to school there and explore the world. Bunch of bull shit. I knew people in Boulder, CO and knew I could party my ass off to numb the physical pain and emotional pain. I remember each night once our jug of Carlo Rossi wine (gross) was gone crying to my friends: ” I just want to die. My life is over. All I ever wanted was to be a mother, have a husband, and take care of a family.” I believed strongly that would never happen. The physical pain had taken over and it took everything in me to function and I came close to ending my life. Told you, I almost died twice. Sadly, I am not joking. I almost did. There is only so much the mind and body can take: add jugs of wine and partying to the mix and you are headed for death. Maybe, part of me was praying that would happen. The number one reason people with chronic pain die is by suicide: I never became a statistic. I did become a mom though. After hitting rock bottom (not a strong enough term for where I was, more like boulder bottom) I went to the Pain Rehab Center and learned how to accept and manage chronic pain naturally.
I will be thirty four very soon and I am a mother with chronic pain. My dreams came true. Oh, for those readers or anyone from my past who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up this will make you happy: I got my degree in Social Work and was a social worker (a real job.) Ha. I am now “just a mom, homemaker, nanny and writer.” Not because that is what society expects but because my dream was to be a mother and damn it I did it. The above picture was taken this past Saturday at a playground close to our home. Yes, my daughter crashed yet another birthday party: two weekends in a row. This party was huge with a DJ blasting soul music and hip hop and the positive energy there was amazing. I thought Kayci would be shy and not want to get out of the car. Quite the contrary (mini me, God help us.) She jumped out of that car seat and without hesitation ran to the music and began dancing. She made friends and it reminded me of the dream I truly believed would never come to fruition. She is one of the most empathetic, loving, funny, and most of all kind kid I have ever met. Yes, I am bias but it is true. She started playing with the girl in the above picture who is seven years of age. I like to eves drop on what my daughter is saying to others without her knowing I am listening. I heard her say: “Where is your mommy? Oh, it is okay. My mommy is so nice and loves kids. She will play with us!” Then I hear: “MOMMY, CAN YOU GET MY FRIEND A WATER AND MY BLUE FISH (gold fish, who knows.) She gave her friend water, all her “blue fish” and half of the toys she had with her. My daughter (yes I am bias, but it is true) is one of the most empathetic, intuitive, happy, giving, and loving person I have ever met. Nature vs. Nurture: whatever. However, she is my gift. Had it not been for my brain surgery and my journey with chronic pain she would not be the person she is. I do not wish chronic pain on anyone, especially my baby girl. However, Kayci was doing yoga positions prior to walking. She loves juicing and looking for fruits and veggies at the market. More importantly, she is kind. She does not judge and has empathy that no toddler I have ever met has. She has empathy for gold fish. At the pet store when she sees the tanks of fish and one is being “mean” to another one she looks at me and says: “Mommy, that is a sin. He should be nice.” When driving and a car allows me to go at a four way stop she says: “Wow Mommy, she is so kind. I would let you go too.” She beats to her own drum and does not give a damn what anyone thinks. So yes, I one day want her to have a sibling because being a mother and having children and a family is my dream and what I excel at. Yes, my second dream is to be published for my work on my story and spread awareness and maybe one day be a speaker for Ted Talks. However, I would trade everything in for motherhood. I did receive some very thoughtful gifts yesterday but my biggest blessing and gift is the little girl I am so lucky to call: daughter.
Dreams come true with chronic pain. Never Give Up.