My first daughter, Charlotte Amelia, was born silently into the world on May 13, 2003. Since her birth and death our family has welcomed four living children. Joy and gratitude prevail in our life together, yet my sadness is always with me, tucked alongside the beauty of every day.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Is it brave? Is it brave that I hung onto my husband and watched the nurse take her from me? People tend to think of this as brave, as a sign of strength, but when I look back on it, it seems like weakness.
It seems like my animal core should have leapt from the bed, tearing at the white curtain, screaming in a low, howling tone, give me my baby back.
I can picture the scene, I am naked, my breasts heavy and swinging, belly that strange, 7-hours-after-birth pouch, blood streaming out of me onto the floor, probably falling in my emotional and physical weakness onto the floor, slipping, screaming, falling to my face and screaming in anguish.
This really could have happened. Should it have happened? How could I just let the other scene happen, where I just sit there, hiding my eyes, not wanting to believe the turn my life has taken?
Maybe it was strength. Maybe it was just not knowing what to do.
I still cannot believe I did it, one way or the other. Nobody should have to do this.
I thought, in the weeks afterwards, when my arms ached and my breasts were bursting and my house was filled with the heaviest, most deafening silence, of mother animals I had seen on television. The mother animals who clung to their dead infants. Stood by them. Refused to leave them. I could recall that once I had thought they were of too little brain to understand that their young were no longer living. I now know that I was of too little brain to understand what those mothers were feeling. I, too, wanted to hold my dead baby forever, perhaps had I not had the societal fear of death woven so deeply into my soul I would have tucked her under my coat and taken her from the hospital, taken her home where she belonged to be with me in her own house for a day or two before the inevitable came.
To sleep with her, to dress her in the clothes that were folded in her drawers, to share her with the family and friends that I was too numb-struck to share her with on the day of her birth. So instead, I let her go.