Preemie Mom

On August 28th I write a note
in my phone
Reminding me that I need a new depo shot
In November.
then I collect my things
And leave the hospital.

There is no bow on my door
Announcing my daughters arrival
There is no cooing baby in the cruelly empty bassinet
My breasts ache from pumping that
Comes so easily to other mothers
But simply leaves my nipples bruised and and me in tears.

While I get to leave in a wheelchair
it isn’t the ecstatic cliche shown in movies.
The nurses and doctors are busy when
I go by –
Suddenly finding urgent paperwork
Or entering charts into the system.
No one says good luck to me.
No one tells me congratulations.

my id bracelets and my prescriptions are the only evidence
that proves that I belong on the maternity ward.
My body is sore from the trauma of birth
I am wearing a diaper to collect the ochre
bruises decorate my arms and hands like watercolor tattoos,
angry and yellow and purple.

26 hours of endless nurses parading in and out,
Chiding me for crying,
Taunting me into pumping my breasts for an infant
that isn’t able to breathe on her own,
Doctors explaining all the different ways
She might die this hour –
All refusing to use her name,
All refusing to make a connection with her.

This moment that I have dreamed of,
That would have been so different 14 weeks later,
that would have gone as planned
is shattered.

I remember the nurse teaching me how to deliver
while i was delivering
teaching me how to breathe.
it reminds me to cancel my prenatal classes
those all-important first-time parent classes
that would teach me the secret vocabulary
of motherhood, so i could finally get the jokes
i was told for so many years.
I wish she could teach me how to breathe now.

I try to block out the look of pity
the OB gave me when he told me
there wasn’t any way of stopping this
the baby was coming, right now, sorry,
lets hope the shots worked.

Even though the epidural has worn off I am still numb.
My husband tries to help me in the car,
He grazes his fingers across the wedding rings he gave me
He smiles at me
“She’s a fighter, she’ll be home before we know it”
But he still can’t invoke her name
The tongue twists like the wires snaking into her belly button
Mechanically keeping her alive.

Only hospital issued flannel blankets adorn her incubator –
No pink crocheted afghans nor frilly coming home outfits.
Just a diaper that goes to her knees
And the smallest earmuffs to keep her brain from bleeding
The only proof she is there is me,
Weeping next to her,
Willing her to ignore this hour’s death sentences,
making a lifetime’s worth of apologies as the time passes,
wondering when i’ll be allowed to hold her hand.

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