My Cortland. A true gift from God. After having three devastating miscarriages, I was finally going to be a mommy. I had prepared my entire life for this role. I even chose a career based on the future family I would have. And when Cortland was born, I finally understood why God had made me wait. He was pruning my heart for the most beautiful love ever imaginable.
Those 9 months that I carried him, were probably the only time in my life when I felt most at ease about myself, in my own body. I also remember feeling selfish, but glad that I was the only one who knew what he felt like. So much so, that as much as I loved holding my baby in my arms, after he was born, I felt an overwhelming loss. I no longer had that bond with him that he and I shared. For months after, a sense of jealousy would come over me each time I saw a pregnant woman. I just didn’t want that feeling to ever end.
Here’s the other thing, when you are in an abusive relationship, you hold so tightly onto the feelings you have because they become your only escape. Those inner thoughts that your abuser never hears become your secret weapon. So each time I was called a name, was threatened or attacked, I was able to retreat to the sensations of pregnancy. It was my escape from the wretched reality. This was where my pure joy could be found. I often felt I could talk and sing to Cortland in my mind and he would be able to hear me. Every turn, twist, kick, punch and hiccup I felt from Cortland was one that my husband wouldn’t ever be able to steal from me.
The day of Cortland’s birth was beautiful. I was surrounded by love. My mom, sister and nephew came to support us. Even my ex-mother-in-law was there. I felt loved. We all felt love. My husband was so kind, loving and supportive. He held my hand through every contraction. He didn’t leave my side. I was convinced Cortland would bring us closer.
But, boy, was I wrong. The following day was unbearable. He left the hospital the night I gave birth. He went home to sleep. I was left alone with the baby in a cold hospital room. He didn’t return until after 6:30 pm the next day. The doctors had already discharged us from the hospital. But I had no way of getting home. He said he was cleaning the house and getting it ready for us. But the house was in the same condition it had been in when we left. He said maybe a total of 5 words to me that night.
It was just the three of us at home the next day. He didn’t want any of my family to come visit. I was sitting on our red couch, stumbling to nurse our son. I just wanted my mom there with me. I’ll never forget the disdain in his voice as he yelled to me to cover up. He implied that I was trying to get attention by sitting in my living room and feeding the baby. I put Cortland down, made him a bottle of formula, took him into my room and never tried nursing him again. I held my baby in my arms and apologized to him for bringing him into the chaos that was our house and the tears from my eyes fell onto his little blanket.
For the next six months, there were some scattered good days, but most days were awful. I hated the thought of leaving my baby and returning to work. What got me through was knowing that for most of the day he would be in the arms of a loving caretaker and not being exposed to emotional toxicity.
I never got a chance to give Cortland the kind of life I hoped he would have as an infant. I tried leaving. But guilt, manipulation and deceit pulled me back. That’s one of the greatest regrets of my life.
Cortland taught me about unconditional love. His smile, when I would walk in to pick him up from daycare, was a consistent reminder that despite the circumstances, he counted on me. He became my reason for continued endurance and strength. He reminded me that even though his heart was beating outside of my body, we would forever have the special bond we had during those 9 months.
Almost 6 years later, Cortland continues to amaze me. He has intelligence surpassing his years. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He randomly tells me he loves at least 4 times a day. He corrects any mistake I make, but makes sure to do it with a smile, so my feelings don’t get hurt. He takes pride in his role as the big brother. He smiles with his eyes and radiates an aura of greatness. I’m honored that I was chosen to be the mother of this beautiful soul. Happy 6th Birthday, my love! I love you more than there are stars in the sky and sand on the beach.