Welcome to the blog website of Anne Heffron: writer, mother, adoptee.

The Pull of Skin

The Pull of Skin

I was listening Amy Purdy talk to Oprah on the podcast Super Soul Conversations about the fact that she, Amy could still, in her mind, wiggle her toes. She said she could still feel her feet in her shoes. She said that more than once she has felt a raindrop hit her foot and that when she looks down she sees the wet of the drop and she also sees her prosthetic legs.

Amy Purdy talked about the fact the while she hardly has phantom pains that many amputees have, she does have phantom sensations.

This got me wondering about the skin sensations I have had all of my life that something is missing. It’s a subtle ache. It’s like I’m part magnet and my skin is working to pull to it what it needs to feel complete and at rest. This takes energy, and so while other people may be running errands or making lists or running a company, I’m busy being a bag of skin that has a job it can’t articulate or accomplish. This means I spend a lot of time what to others might look like spinning my wheels but to me feels like trying to be whole.

What if when the baby is formed inside the mother and then separated from her this is more of an amputation than a separation? This could explain the life-long shock many adoptees and many first mothers endure.

Amy Purdy never said she was separated from her legs. They were amputated. The language is strong and appropriate. You could argue that many adopted people and their first mothers are reunited and that, therefore, separated is a fine term to use, but I would argue that just as your relationship with your legs would never be the same if they were cut off and then reattached, I think the body and brain of either mother or child would be permanently altered by the amputation.

I know everyone is not the same, and I know that some people have much higher levels of resiliency than others. I am thankful that not everyone is damaged by relinquishment. I do believe it is possible to come through this amputation of relationship unscathed, just as it is possible for a human being to eat a car. It has happened. It can be done. But when the exception is held up as the gold standard, those who fall short feel less than and do not get the level of care they need. I think, then, it’s most efficient to assume that almost everyone suffers greatly from the amputation of source, the amputation from child. It’s kind and right to give as many people as possible the love and attention they need.

I wonder if there is some sort of cream that could be developed that contained elements of the mother’s fluids which could be rubbed on the baby’s skin every day. I wonder if there is some sort of soothing light the baby could be placed under to help ease the skin ache, just as my daughter lay under a special light after she was born to help cure her jaundice. I wonder if sound could help, singing bowls, something healing.

What I am trying to tell you is that I think the medical community has done more than fall on its face as far as helping babies who are separated from their mothers to grow into healthy adults. I think it has done more than fall on its face. I think the medical community has been lying on its face. It hasn’t even looked up.

Uh, hello? Am I the only one thinking about this stuff?

All those years and millions of dollars spent developing Viagra when children are leaving your care to endure a lifetime of discomfort?

Come on.

Stand up. Look around. Get to work.

I want that cream.





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