Grace is nearly here.
I am pushing, and she is no help.
I push, and she moves back inside.
I push, and then I panic and hold on.
The doctor is yelling now to push.
People are surrounding me and watching.
Suddenly, I remember that if I push her out, she is gone for ever.
I hold her back inside of me.
PUSH...they scream. PUSH.
The doctor says as calmly as she can, "We need to get her out."
And if I could, I would pause right here; I would pause this entire day and ask, "Why?"
"Why dear doctor do we need to get her out now? What's the hurry?"
Because I am hurrying.
Because I am well-aware that the funeral home has been called, that they are on stand by, that it is Sunday and they close at 4:00 p.m. That everyone in the room thinks that she has to leave the hospital today and go to the funeral home because no one, no one has been told that Grace could stay with me for one or two days because this is 2003 and in 2003 in Spokane, the hospitals send the babies away to the funeral homes because no one has stood up and screamed at the top of their lungs:
"Let the babies stay with the mamas as long as the mamas and babies need to stay together."
This won't happen still for a couple of years and at the hospital where I gave birth, it won't happen for a very long time.
So I push and I pull and I push and I pull until finally, finally my body does what it has to do and Grace is born.
Only she is not crying.
Everyone else in the room is crying, and fear hangs in the air and fear takes over and fear is the thing that remains for a very long, long time.
And Grace arrives at noon, and we have four hours.
FOUR measly hours to hold her and look at her and touch her, and friends parade through the hospital and people measure her and weigh her and no one really wants to touch her too much because it is clear, it is very, very clear that she has been dead for a while inside of me though no one really tells me any of this.
No one tells me that a body starts to decompose inside of you when the body dies before it's born.
That might be the ugliest sentence I've ever written, but it is the truth. The body decomposes, and no one, not the doctor who was there or the nurses who have seen this before prepared me for the state of Grace. NO ONE.
And so fear entered the room and never left.
Fear hung around and stayed until finally, finally on the next day when my doctor who was out of town arrived, told me that Grace was perfect and she looked perfectly normal and all of the things that were happening to her body were perfectly normal.
MY BABY WAS NORMAL.
But for the briefest bit of time, I was led to believe something was wrong with her because the sucky doctor never said otherwise. And no one prepared me for this.
And I sat in my hospital bed thinking that something was wrong with her when actually nothing at all was wrong with her at all.
And all that I knew was that I didn't want anyone else to ever have to feel this way again. That I never wanted a mother to feel that lonely and that isolated and that much fear in the room with her again. That fear should never have been allowed to enter that day. That fear had no right to show up on my doorstep. That someone who knew what was going on should have stopped fear from entering the room.
I will shout from the top of the mountain for all the mothers who need more time with their babies.
There is no hurry. There is no rush. You may take all the time you need with your child. This is the only time you have.
Grace will never be forgotten.