Cutting the umbilical cord
In an episode of Home Improvement, Jill Taylor said to husband, Tim, “There is a special bond that connects mother and child. It’s called the umbilical cord.” Tim answered in his usual smart-alecky way, “If you haven’t noticed, the umbilical cord was cut at birth. Duh!” He he he.
Well, Jill is right. I think mothers have a closer bond to their children because they nurture children inside their bodies even before they were born.
You all know that the umbilical cord is the tube that connects the developing embryo or fetus to the placenta. It contains a vein which causes oxygenated blood from the mother to the fetus. At birth, after the baby is born, the uterus expels the placenta along with the cord from the mother’s body. The doctor clamps and then cuts the cord. The newborn wears a plastic clip on the navel area until the compressed region of the cord has dried and sealed and then it falls off.
And did you know that the umbilical cord is made of Wharton’s jelly, not ordinary skin and connective tissue? There are no nerves, so cutting it is not painful. *
Why a post about the umbilical cord, you might ask? Well, you see, I had my first baby 18 years ago. Can you believe that? My first-born is already an adult. Reggie is now of legal age. He can vote in the next election and he can consume alcohol now, legally. Not that he has shown any interest in drinking yet. And he has to pay full bus fare now.
If you have been a regular reader of this blog, you might have witnessed the steps I have gone through in letting go of my children. Letting them spread their wings from that first day in kindergarten, to going away to winter camp and band camps, going on the transit bus by himself (now you know which particular one I’m referring to), partying, dating, saying goodbye at the airport so he could experience his dreams of being a jazz musician, etc, etc. You’d think that his turning 18 would just be another one of those birthdays. But I didn’t realize that it is such a major event.
Let me first explain something. Here in Canada, families receive child allowances from the government called the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). It is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. The amount a family receives depends on the family income, the number and the ages of children. Families in the lower income bracket receive more than those who have higher incomes. Also, when a child turns seven, the allowance for that child is reduced, which I don’t understand because clothes of children over seven cost more. And what I just realized recently is that when a child turns 18, you will no longer receive allowance for that child. Because he is no longer a child. He’s an adult now. Ouch! I received the notice a few days before his birthday. And that was when it really started to hit me.
And another thing. Here in Canada, at least in my province of Manitoba, when a baby is born, his or her name is added on the mother’s health card. My Manitoba Health Card has my name, address and registration number at the front. Listed at the back are my name and those of my three children including our dates of birth and our individual Personal Health Identification Number. Everytime there is a change in location or family status, I have to report it to Manitoba Health and they would issue me a new card. I’ve changed my addresses a few times and I have been issued different cards for all the changes that happened. After the birth of a baby, I would also receive a new card and what joy was it to see the new addition at the back. But it was such a contrast of feelings and emotions when I received my new card last week. It was one line shorter at the back. They removed Reggie’s name. It was as if they cut his umbilical cord once again. But this time it hurts. I don’t even know why I feel pain. It’s not like they’re taking him away physically. It’s just a document. On the other hand, I saw the smile on his face when I handed him his mail and the glint on his eyes when he saw and held his very own health card.
Maybe I’ve just been emotional lately with all the changes that have been happening. Leaving home and working downtown. It was the same feeling I had when going back to work after a maternity leave. The feeling of guilt. I know. The kids can pretty much take care of themselves but it was the same feeling all over again when I come home after a long day from work and realize that the TV set had been babysitting my nine-year old and when I hear him say, “I missed you, mommy.” And of course, taking on a second job and spending lesser time at home. It hasn’t been easy – more on my part. Because I pretty much prepared the kids and even made schedules that they could follow when I’m not home – two months prior to my “going back to work.” I know this is just a phase and these feelings will pass. But this is where I am right now and it’s not easy.