Tue 10 Mar 2009
if there were no calendars i would have no sense of how to tell my story, any of it outside the press of now, of in this moment I Am. a chorus line of dates has spun through my head since childhood and even my I Am is always counting, ordering, tallying the numbers according to who I Was, trying to leave a trail of breadcrumbs hardy enough that maybe someday i can find my way home.
my baby is six months old.
six months ago this morning i was in labour, water broken nearly twelve hours, cerclage finally wrested from me by two grunting doctors while the blessed anaethetist stroked my hair (erm, hairnet) and tried to get her drip to keep up with the escalating carnage below. in the end, the double loop of wire ended up in a waste disposal somewhere, too much scar tissue on it to be offered as a prize. and i didn’t care.
the prize, of course, was Posey, born seven or so hours later dark and lusty and shouting, on the very last dregs of that epidural cocktail so that i felt the asunderness of it all but maybe not it all and i was present to my body and hers as she slid from me and somewhere in those moments of gasping i glimpsed something powerful and primal and i understood it can be good like this and some part of me sighed and let go.
or almost. the letting go is the way i’d like the narrative to read. it is so close to truth.
four years ago this morning in the same hospital i lay on an ultrasound table twenty weeks pregnant for the first time all nervous and excited and a little puzzled because this was my first Canadian ultrasound and in Korea where i’d been until a few weeks before they’d always let me see the screen but this technician was gruff and closed like a box, four walls sealed tight and grim. i was anxious because the day before i’d had this sudden gush that had first embarrassed and then frightened me and i was eager for the reassurance and i smiled at the lady, that Nurse Ratchitt with her jellied wand but she did not so much as make eye contact. there was Stan Rogers playing on the radio – the Mary Ellen Carter, of all ironies – but when i singsonged, oh, i love this!, still shocked to be back in a country where music i recognized played on the radio, the technician said nothing. when i mentioned the incident of the day before and asked if she could check my bladder – because i wanted desperately to believe it had been my bladder that had failed me in front of thirty high school students, the alternative being too terrifying, too oh Bonnie stop being dramatic – her monotone response was only, the requisition doesn’t say bladder. when after what felt like an eternity of her cold and silent machinations over my belly, screen turned away from me, i got up the courage to ask, is anybody awake in there? because it was my first pregnancy and i still had not really felt the baby move, she answered, could be.
could be. huh. as in, fuck off and shut up, it’s not your turn and i will give you information when i damn well have to and not before and don’t go getting uppity and asking QUESTIONS. when she did turn the screen to me it was with a perfunctory baby looks fine, see? lots of movement and fluid looks fine and i am not permitted to tell you anything else. and i smiled with relief and tenderness at my wiggling, floating cargo but went home shaking, feeling almost violated and utterly dismissed and disappointed.
and then he died, my Runt, our Finn, eleven hours after he was born because it was fluid and his lungs had been damaged in their development by its absence around the twenty-week mark.
and it’s not exactly that i blamed the technician once i dug her up from the bowels of my memory in the aftermath. stunned and heartbroken, i gave her very little thought. logically, i understood that it was quite possible that despite her appalling bedside manner, she’d been thorough and no fluid loss had actually been evident. certainly i’d had a fluid ferning test done at my doctor’s office the same day as the ultrasound and they’d found no evidence of amniotic leakage. perhaps she’d just been having a bad day, or is a generally unpleasant person with a shit-ass personality. perhaps she did not actually dismiss my concerns the way she dismissed me, the human being. whatever.
i still, in a very off-hand, not terribly time-consuming way, hated her with the fury of a thousand suns. from that day to this. not even for the what-ifs so much as for the simple fact that as Finn’s mother, i resent the fact that she got to be one of the few people who ever had the privilege of seeing him, even in utero, and of being a part of his story.
she is the piece of damage and mistrust and resentment i didn’t let go of when Josephine was born.
whoever she is, that technician, i don’t want her anymore. i’d like to leave her here, in hopes you will receive her, take her from me, help me let her go. is that possible? can you just drop someone from the calendar of the mind? can i drop the little tic in my head that says March 10th…Posey’s half-birthday, oh, and that was the day of that awful ultrasound with that raging fascist…
right, letting go.
friends of ours had a baby boy last week, their third baby, second son. we were pregnant together the first time, back in Korea…even had accidental back-to-back appointments at Our Lady of Mercy Virgin Mary Gynecologist and Obstetrician – which is, you have to admit, the funniest name EVER for an OB office – on the very day they found out Euan was a boy and we saw Finn bounce and wiggle his fingers at us for the very first time. we moved back to Canada shortly thereafter; they went to Australia. we have not seen them since, not in person…but they were brave ones, staying close in touch even when the unspeakable came between us.
their little boy’s name is Finian. he will be called Finn. he will be my boy’s namesake.
and that this fills my heart only with joy and the happy kind of tears is a sign, i think, that there has been healing, and luck.