My friend Donna Thomson, an author, fellow blogger, mother, often posts interesting articles on Facebook and Twitter that grab my attention. She writes insightful pieces about caregiving at all ages, respite, networking, and she shares intellectual articles about mindfulness, resilience, courage…
Today Donna shared a post by another author, poet and blogger, and as with many she shares, I found it truly inspiring.
Curious, I thought I would explore this phenomenon further.
Fetalmaternal microchimerism occurs where cells from the fetus pass through the placenta and form cell lineages within the mother. Amazing. Various types of cells have been indentified including immune cell lineages and stem cells. The potential for these cells within the mother’s body are not yet fully understood but there are several hypotheses. What caught my attention is the thought that “fetal cells home to injured or diseased maternal tissue where they act as stem cells and participate in repair“.
As the author of the article says, “The cells of that child stay with her, resonating in ways that mothers have known intuitively throughout time”.
And I have felt this. When Kate was here, I had a sixth sense, a strong and honed intuition about her and when she might be starting an episode, or when something wasn’t quite right. It was more than the eyes in the back of head as some moms describe how they can sense when their child is up to no good. As many have said, and as we continue to discuss, Kate’s ‘clinical presentation’ was never textbook, but I could sense when something was not right. My connection with her was so strong. I believe that connection helped me to be a better advocate for her than anyone else, and helped keep her safe. I also believe that connection let me know when things were going terribly wrong for her. And there is no worse feeling in the world than knowing something is wrong, expressing it to those who should help, and not being heard. This happened time and again for Kate over her short life. The curse of being so rare.
At the end of her life, several days before, my mother heart and soul were both in a panicked state. I knew something was going terribly wrong for Kate. I felt her slipping away from me. Was it that connection between the two of us again? Her little cells tugging at my heart, my brain, my soul? All I could think of was getting to her, getting her home and being with her. Unfortunately that took a heart-breaking amount of work, but it became a sole focus. I knew that Kate knew. She was telling me with her words, “home, home”, but I also felt it, an urgency to comfort her and to support her. I had never felt Kate was dying before despite many terrifying experiences. Those few days leading up to her death, I could feel it. And as she left us, I could only describe a sensation of her tearing away from me. A physical feeling of being torn apart from another, and feeling that she was physically taking part of me with her. It was incredibly painful – physically painful. Like part of my heart was being torn away.
Did we also have a connection of maternal to child microchimersim? Was our connection so strong that I was also a physical part of her? Or was my heart truly breaking – another phenomenon that affects mothers who have lost a child called broken heart syndrome. I think perhaps it was both.
Now that she is gone, I have described to those that are close to me that I can feel Kate with me and sense her presence. There are moments when this presence is particularly strong and I can almost sense her touch and hear her words. Is it her, a biological part within me, reaching out?
I take great comfort that science has proven she is a part of me.I believe the hypothesis of Kate’s fetal cells migrating to areas of injury to facilitate healing.
How amazing to think my own baby might be helping to heal my broken heart.