Thursday, October 25, 2012
The Myth of the Severed Umbilical Cord
The new mom double-checks with her husband.
Yes, he assures her. The baby is fine, and the doctor did cut the umbilical cord.
Of course. They even offered me the opportunity to cut it but I figured, hey, it’s their job after all.
And, New Mommy reminds him gently, you were trying not to faint.
There is that, he admits.
New Mom knows better. She’s heard of this condition but half hoped it wasn’t true. The cord only seems cut. In spite of all empirical evidence to the contrary, including the clamp on her little one’s tummy, it is still there, linking mother to child. The child may be unaware of its presence, but Mom is uncomfortably certain it may be a permanent part of her own essence.
Sometimes the cord is almost unnoticeable. Sometimes it pulses with painful fear for the health and safety of the child on the other end. Or pride wells up when baby proves to the world it is the genius Mom knows it to be. Other times–teething, potty training–Mom can be heard calling the umbilical cord nasty names.
The invisible cord has some remarkable characteristics. It attaches its fully formed link the first time an adoptive mother holds the child of her heart. A father is astounded to feel, somewhere in his midsection, tugs of fear, sadness, pride and delight for his offspring.
Wouldn’t you think as children get older, move away, get jobs and get married, that the cord would finally snap? If nothing else, it has to be getting brittle with age. Mom is lulled into a false sense of release. I still love my kids, she thinks, but at least I don’t need to worry about them like I used to.
Silly Mother. It only takes one phone call. Mom, I lost my job. Mom, he broke up with me. Mom, I have the flu. Mom, the ultrasound shows there may be something wrong with the baby.
The umbilical cord kicks into high gear. Mom’s insides are twisted and knotted and all she can think about is how to help. Prayers intensify. Somehow the crisis is endured, and Mom has to come to peace with the umbilical cord that will always link her to her children, and then grow little branches that attach her love and concern and pride to her grandchildren. The cord was never really cut. It just moved higher and now is attached firmly to her heart.