Day Ten

October 10, 2008 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

I have given birth three times in completely different ways. 

The first time was the easiest.  I had an epidural.  The birth was pain-free.  Soft music played in the background, the doctor on call was a little miffed to be woke up in the early morning and took out her aggression on the chipped red polish on her nails.  I breathed deeply and pushed with all my might three or four times and we had our girl. 

The first six months of Elaina’s life she cried seven hours a day and I sat on the couch in our little Chicago apartment and waited for Sergei to come home from work, beside myself, convinced I was the only woman in the history of mankind who did not possess an innate mothering intuition.      

Zoya’s birth was long and painful.  I let a friend talk me into a natural water birth and the pain was like none I had experienced before or since.  I lugged my huge body out of the tub, down the hallway and back to my hospital bed in the hopes for some last minute drugs, a towel draped over my shoulders. 

Only Zoya could not wait.  She shot out of me while I stood next to the hospital bed, one leg hiked up on the mattress.  She was caught like a football by my mid-wife, her robust cry filled the whole hospital floor.  I fell into bed, oblivious of new life, a black haired, swollen little girl.  My second daughter. 

They say that as soon as a woman bares her child, she forgets the pain and struggle of the labor.  Because she gives birth.  She actually delivers a life.  I have given birth three times.  But the last time, I feel like I didn’t actually give birth.  I think it was taken from me.  I do not remember the third birth experience. 

I have to make up the first few moments of my third daughter’s life. 

And I imagine silence. 

I imagine the baby, blue and tiny, doctors scurrying around the room, hooking her up to monitors and beepers, sticking a breathing tube in her nose.  No cries, no tears of joy and laughter from the proud parents, no welcome and congratulations from the doctors and nurses.  No inquiries of her name. 

I imagine a pause, doctors noticing that beside her struggle for life that she showed some outward markers of Down syndrome.

I imagine pity.   

I imagine professionalism kicking in and the doctors jumping to the task of saving my child’s life.   

I have no memory of remarkable joy when she came into the world.  I don’t get to have those memories because they do not exist.  In those first few moments of living, in her struggle, did she wonder where her parents were?  Did the doctors treat her with any love or tenderness as they slowly pumped life back into her?    

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Entry filed under: 31 for 21, Culture differences, Down syndrome, Former Soviet Union, Friends, Having a baby, Hospital stays, Kiev, Prayer, Russian, Special Needs, Ukraine.

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