Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Dallas Delivery

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"I'm trying to be sure you feel no pain."

The anesthesiologist
whispered in my ear
like a remorseful lover
crawling into bed
as the sun rises.
His face
but for
his greenish-brown eyes
hidden
behind his mask
though I could tell
from the way his whites
had yellowed
he was a good
ten years
older than me.
In crisply creased green scrubs
like those
surrounding me
speaking softly
in some code
I'd no wish
to decipher.

I shouldn't be here
it was months too early.
It should be
my husband,
not this faceless man,
standing above me.
A plastic bassinette
should be
by my side,
not
that oversized
formaldehyde-filled
Mason jar
waiting
for my baby.

I lay motionless

on the steel
operating table
immobilized
ironically
by the newest
state-of-the-art
obstetrical spinal block.
The nauseating
sweet piney smell
of too much disinfectant
in the motionless air
below
the white blue lights
that shone
from metallic shades.
The whole thing
like those frogs
and fetal pigs
we used to pin
on our silver
dissecting pans
in biology class
prepared to slice
through their thin flesh
and pull out
their dead innards
the way the surgeon
stood ready
to open me up
and extract
my dead baby.

My hands
that should
have held
my baby
clutched
a pulse monitor
and a stiff
white sheet
that would soon
be bloodied.
I was wearing
my Mary medallion
telling myself
that the baby
I could no
longer protect
would now be under
the Virgin Mother's
watchful care.

They'd broken the rules
letting me
stay awake.
But I'd been
fully present
when my baby
entered my body
it would be sacrilegious
not to know
when she left.

It was the least I could do.


Therese Gilardi lives with her son, daughter and husband in Los Angeles. Therese’s work has appeared in the books Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in Our 40s and So Far and Yet So Near: Stories of Americans Abroad, in literary and parenting magazines, and online in The Dirty Napkin (spring 2009 issue) and Thirteenth Warrior Review (spring 2002). Therese is a member of the L.A. Poets and Writers Collective.


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