Friday, March 11, 2011


I was 23, pregnant and meeting with Francoise, a midwife. It was going to be a natural birth, with my friends and family. Bath births were not yet raging. In fact, this was pre-yuppie birthing time and the only cloth diaper that was being sold, somewhere in one of the dusty back isles was the big cotton square with the jumbo safety pins and plastic shower cap bags. I didn't need designer pee and poop pads. I was grassroots. Wanting to be as closely connected to the real thing as possible.

I went into labour on a Friday evening. Francoise came over. There was excitement in the air. My boyfriend Bryan was a champ. Room-mates and my parents hung out downstairs in the kitchen. This was going to be wonderful. My contractions increased both in timing and strength, I kept going. And going. And going. Saturday morning the house was quiet. My parents had gone home, roomies sleeping, B and F beside me and me continuing the contractions. I got up, walked around, took a bath, did this did that and yet still, no baby wanted to come forth. By Saturday evening I was fed up. F was downstairs sharing doobie with B and my room mates. I felt abandoned. F suggested that maybe I wasn't ready. Abandoned and a failed woman. I was exhausted. Saturday night I was sleeping between the contractions and I would awake with every new wave of pain. Every minute and a half I thought I was going to die and sandwiched between thoughts of death I rode bareback in unconscious blackness. At eight centimetres dilation baby was not coming.

Sunday morning that was it. I had enough. Get me to the fucking hospital already and get this thing out of me. The taxi ride was murder. I was in the front seat screaming on cue every 50-60 seconds or so. B and F holding my hands from the back seat. In the hospital I am flinging my clothing off in the hallway as they are rolling me to the birthing room. I am screaming for drugs. Which they give me. Four hours later the sweetest little thing comes out of me, plump and squished and perfect. Charlotte Storm Amelia is born and my life is changed forever.

Eighteen months later I am seven and a half months pregnant and I have the flu. Things don't feel right. I am anxious. I visit Erica, my obstetrician. They keep me two days and do their tests. The amniocentesis demonstrates sickness in the uterus. I am sick. I am tired. I am freaking out. E suggests inducing. I have no decision making access in my brain. I am induced. I begin contractions. And then everything just sort of frizzles out. Now that I am 'open' I am in danger zone of contamination. Baby must come out. No seconds are wasted and I am whisked off to operating room. Zackie my ex-sister in law is with me. She is allowed to stay. They do local anaesthesia, put a little curtain between my chest and my belly and open me up. E says that I have beautiful ovaries. Z is stoic as can be, holding my hand and alternately comforting me with her eyes and checking out the construction zone. Within minutes this tiny 4.5 pound mosquito is lifted out of me and I catch glimpse of her skinny purple blood ass as she is taken away for checking and monitoring and controlling. She stays in an incubator for two weeks and I come visit her by public transit every day, leaking milk from my breasts in the September Indian summer. She wails and wails and wails for a year and I have to slap her bum like a basketball to calm her down. Victoria Francis Orlean incrementally becomes my beautiful second born.

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