Monday, October 27, 2008

The In-Between

I was reminded of this, in reading my new book of choice (see below).

There was this strange moment in my history in which Charlotte disappeared altogether, and this was the period of time between the moment the doctor looked into my eyes and said, "I'm afraid so" (this in answer to my unbelieving query... my baby is dead?) and the moment when the midwife wiggled out her real-baby shoulders. It was a dissociation of sorts, my only-human brain's incapacity to deal with the sudden change of plans.

My first thoughts were things like... But the car seat! We have a car seat in our car. What will we do with it? And The nursery? The crib was so difficult to set up, will we really have to take it down? Lost between the lines of the flatlined heartbeat were the child still in my womb, the dream that had just minutes ago been snatched from beneath my feet. It was as if my baby were simply gone from my life, leaving not a trace behind.

As my thoughts moved to the family and friends I would have to tell, my heart did begin to break, because I felt guilty. They would not be getting their baby after all. Imagine how disappointed they would be! To have expected this baby for so long, and now I would leave them with nothing. I hastened to tell the news to a select few; I knew that if I waited too long to say the words they would stick in my throat and never come out. Thankfully, they offered to call everyone I knew, and the word spread like a snowball going down a fast winter's hill: Carol's baby died. It hasn't been born yet. They don't know why.

Later, in the delivery room, I schemed how we would piece together a life. We'd have to put together dinner parties, because surely our friends would fear us now, this would be the only way to lure them back into our childless life, the only way to re-establish ourselves in the world of the couple without children. Perhaps this summer we would travel, and I imagined visiting the south of France again, perhaps staying in the tiny village we had visited when we were younger, biking and soaking up warm sunshine and laughing at the tourists to take our mind off the things we didn't want to think about. There were places we hadn't visited yet, perhaps we should grab at this opportunity of freedom and just go.

My family members came, saw me, and returned to the solarium to wait for the baby to come. When they came in, they cried, but I did not. I looked round, and healthy, and beautifully pregnant. They knew the baby was dead. I did not know there was a baby anymore. It was too much to take in.

The labor and even into the pushing, right up to the final stages, were surreal. I was an actress, I was practicing the art of childbirth. I was experiencing a fruitless birth, walking the motions of labor and delivery with nothing to show for my efforts.

Then came the head, and the shoulders, and suddenly it clicked in my mind, the puzzle pieces marvellously put together all at once; visions of Europe and dinner parties whirling and swirling down the drain as I realized the one real truth about that day: I did still have a baby. I was, in fact, giving birth for real.

And there she was. Perfect, real, and mine. She was back, the baby I had dreamed of for eight-and-a-half months, lying on my belly, perfect, slimy, full-headed, gorgeous, and still.

Love exploded.

1 comment:

Meg said...

That was so beautiful and so well written. Thank you.