Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Triplet mama

Of course I had to listen to this.

I agree. Mothers of multiples. We smug, fierce, warrior women, weathering this blood, toil, tears and sweat. We fight a battle everyday and deserve a medal for surviving, no mistake. Make mine Godiva, or 70% cocoa. No Cadbury's brown lard, if you're asking.

Yes, Dawn with the lovely voice. She reminded me. Practical problems like holding, feeding, changing, dressing, walking, shopping, vehicles, pavements, roads. The library, with its lift to the children's section on the first floor. It can't take a triple buggy and no-one will help on the stairs. Passers-by stare, but no-one weighs in to say, Shall I take one up? Instead, there are arguments to be made, access to fight for, people to stare down, more battles to fight. Somewhere, you sleep.

Then, did I forget, or did anyone mention the loneliness? The friggin empty loneliness. He climbs into your house with his big ugly boots and kicks you in the head. Triplet mama, now you are flip-flopped into the world where you don't fit and no-one wants you. Get used to it, stranger. Alone with your own home-made crowd.

Some women hate you, literally. They could walk up to you and spit in your face. They fight against time with its armies of days and months. Their goal is one single, perfect baby. But you, you. Thoughtlessly, you marched in, proclaiming an undeserving three. One woman, two miscarriages in, growled her congratulation with a unsmiling mouth and steady eye. What could the triplet mama say to make the injustice right?

Then there are women for whom your presence is a judgement. There are new mothers, overwhelmed and lost, struggling to live with one tiny child, cradled sleeping in their arms. Then here, right into their empty gaze, strides the triplet queen. She's juggling more babies than you can hold, or even safely see. She's changing, feeding, ordering the universe with all her undeterred, unbreakable, unshakable purpose. Eyes are averted. The floor is fascinating. Truly, even the wall is more welcoming than the sight of you.

There are others yet, for whom you are the freak. You are the novelty show, the bearded lady, the sideshow spectacle. They look at you quietly, shake their heads and murmur Poor cow. Some will stand in front of you to block your quiet progress. They'll say, not Good Morning, but Are they natural? Pause for a moment and it lets them all come. Did you give birth normally? Were you big? Are they normal? What can I say by a stroke of my beard.

But there are women who need to know. Tell us how bad you feel now. How you drowned; know the moment you went under; all your confessions. Guilt is a terrible thing to bear, isn't it? And we all know you failed, triplet mama. You can't feed three babies with two breasts unless you have bad magic means, like triple breasts and the end of the world up your sleeve.

Maybe your story gives comfort. It was never as bad as that for them! Phew!

But who can help you? Who can you really talk to, but other triplet mothers who know the same as you?

So yes, brought it all back, the non-normality of it all, the freak show candidacy, the isolation and exclusion and the solitude of the experience, always surrounded by people. With waves of the hand in your direction, with ringing words this won't apply to you while everyone laughs, nervously, because whatever life is, it applies to them. They can take comfort from that. There is safety in numbers. They can share.

You can't, triplet mama. Your experience is not like theirs. Where can you go, swimming out of your depth, far away from shore, with no turning back.