Friday, March 6, 2009

Lucia's Birth Story, Part 2

This blog entry is the second part of Lucia's birth story.

Here is the first part of her story. Winter Solstice.

The Word Cruel

She was breathing one minute, and not the next. And then, they explained I had to be induced. I had to bring her into this room and into the world. Cruel world. “Can’t you just do a C-Section and take her out?” This was me speaking, I birthed my first daughter naturally. I would have birthed at home with a lay midwife if I could, and here I was asking them to take her out by Caesarean. What I was really thinking was “Just cut her out of me. Take her out.” Birth seemed so unbelievably cruel. The midwife explained that then I have to recover from major surgery. I had to deliver her vaginally.

I was terrified of this process and terrified to eventually see her. When I birthed my first daughter, someone asked me after a few weeks what it was like to be a mother. I said, “It is like watching your heart walk around in the world.” But what if your heart is not beating?

Everyone left us to talk about our options, which were really to be induced, naturally or with epidural. They transferred us to the labor and delivery area. The nurse came in alone after the doctors and midwife left, and gave me a huge hug. “Ah, honey.” And I cried on her shoulder. There is no measure of time, or space, during these times. I could have been in that room for three seconds or three hours. It was the same.

I decided to have an epidural with Lucia, despite my hippie nature. This was a different experience for me, and my husband said he couldn’t bear to see me in physical pain on top of everything else. I wanted to be home with Beatrice. I wanted to erase the last 72 hours, and go back to the time when I know she was alive and ask them to induce me then. I wanted to erase the pain. And yet, there was part of me that wanted the pain. I wanted to physically be tortured, for that is what I felt inside. Tortured. I looked at my gigantic, 38-week pregnant belly. Torture. I still feel pregnant. I still am pregnant. My womb is now a coffin for my little girl. Every so often, I would feel what felt like the baby shifting, and think, “They are wrong. They are wrong.” But I would just cry. They don’t get that wrong.

I think I have completely blocked the phone call to my sister and my mother. I am grateful to not be emotionally strong enough to remember that pain. I do know that saying the words for the first time were nearly impossible, and hearing their utter sorrow made me shudder. I kept saying to them I am sorry. I am so sorry. I was. I often said the safest place for Lucia was in my belly. But then, the worst thing that could happen, happened in my belly.

They put Cervadil in over night, and when I was ripened, as they said, they would begin with Pitocin in the morning. Ripened. I kept thinking about that word. “Get some sleep,” my midwife said. It was the darkest, longest night. It was winter solstice. I drifted off for a couple of hours, expecting to wake sweating in my own bed, but I woke in the hospital again. This day was certain to be the worst day of my life. If I can survive this day, I thought, I can survive anything. Just one hour at a time today. Just one minute at a time. One breath until the next painful breath.

Our night passed restlessly. I took a Benadryl to sleep. It barely touched my anxiety and late pregnancy discomfort, but the few hours seemed all I needed that night. Sam bunked on a cot next to me. His long body looked painfully cramped in the bed, and I was having trouble bearing the sight of him in such a painful position. Finally, we just decided it was morning at 5am, and Sam asked me in the morning if I wanted a coffee. I suddenly wanted a fully caffeinated coffee. Not just fully caffeinated, but something like a quadruple espresso. Maybe a shot of bourbon in a quadruple espresso. I had denied myself full caffeine this entire pregnancy. And then, like ticking off a checklist, it began occurring to me that I could drink alcohol, take ibuprofen, take morphine…that the epidural didn’t matter because I wouldn’t be hurting the baby anymore. She was dead. It always ended like that, suddenly every thought pattern ended with, “because she is dead already.”

I shook off the hundred yard stare and just said, “A half-caf, please.” And he left the room. I sobbed and watched the news. The world was continuing. The world was going on even though my baby was dead inside me. How can that be?

Sam bought a breakfast, which I simply could not touch. I had no appetite. How could I eat when I was no longer nourishing my child? I wanted to waste away. I wanted to be left bereft, starving. I didn’t need my strength anymore. I was simply a shell.

The nurse came in with a stunning arrangement of flowers from my beautiful sister-in-law and brother-in-law. I took one look and burst out crying. I just couldn’t see an arrangement of white lilies. Everything seemed so cruel to me. I ordered them out. I ordered them out harshly. I cussed. I became enraged. I wanted something to be angry about, someone to be angry with, and flower senders seemed as good as anything. I realized, quickly, how irrational it all was, and yet, I felt compelled to throw things, to upturn my IV machine, and trash the hospital room. I just sobbed instead, and let my anger turn into what it was. I was determined to call my feelings by their proper names, even if most of the time, I didn’t speak the language of this kind of cruel. And truly, the mantra in my head during my hospital time was, “This is so cruel. The world is so cruel. Cruel.” This refrain would eventually change, but for the first 24 hours, it was what echoed in my thoughts.


  1. Oh Angie, it is all just too cruel. Share more when you're ready. Thinking of you & Lucia. ((Hugs))

  2. It is indeed all just too cruel. Thinking of you and sweet Lucia today and every day.

  3. This is all so hauntingly familiar. And yes, very cruel. I'm so incredibly sorry yet another mother has to know this pain. WHY??????????
    Lots of love to you.

  4. I still really hate flowers. When we found out this winter a friend of ours had cancer surgery, I wondered out loud what we could get her. My husband suggested flowers. "FLOWERS?!! SHE DIDN'T DIE!"

    I also had a full on cup of caf moments after telling the doctors we were going to remove Maddy's life support. If there was a bar in children's, it would've been laced.

  5. That was the first thing I asked when they told me I had to have him. Can I have an epidural? NOW? Because I was denied a c-section, too. Unbelievably cruel to think I now had to birth this baby. Then they checked me, and discovered all that prodromal labor had been active. I was 6-7 cm. So I did it all without the pain relief. It was beyond pain... but I can't imagine going through the night you went through carrying your baby that way. I'm so very sorry.

  6. Thank you for this. I lived a similar experience. We lost our daughter, Nina, this April at 34 weeks. I have been writing ever since, but I haven't posted anything to my blog. Maybe I have been afraid of making it so public. We go to a support group, but I haven't explored the online community. Thank you for sharing. You write beautifully about the experience. I'm so sorry for your loss, for all of our losses.


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