~the following is part of “Prompted Prose,” a series of posts from the prompts I’m working with during my Spring 2016 online writing course
I can only guess what the EMT must be thinking as he tries to wheel the gurney through our flimsy screen room, the one we attached to our school bus, up on blocks, where we live. One scan of the scene and he sees the abandoned kiddy pool by the bed, the water puddles on the floor, the melted candles, barely flickering on the sills.
This looks like a complete fiasco. I am exposed in shame. Embarrassed, but cannot waste energy on explaining. I imagine how I must appear. Big, vulnerable, pregnant, and not doing it right. He has come to my rescue, in this home birth gone wrong.
The man in uniform is swift, yet calm, loading me on to the gurney. I want to say so much, but this labor has reduced me to a surrender deeper than any let-go I have ever fallen to. I am silent, my damp body bulging out from beneath the twisted sarong, with which I’ve tried to wrap myself.
My midwife had pulled her pants off hours ago, as she helped me through contractions, kneeling by the warm pool where I labored. When the sirens approached, she stepped into her jeans, gathered her things, and readied to face a hospital, bright lights, and questions. A rescue from an ambulance was not what she had wanted. I had failed her, just as I was failing my baby.
Humbled on the gurney, I wheel past the remains of a wrinkled, puddled room, the morning sun rising to reveal the night’s pained attempts, and my utter inability.
I’d read the pregnancy books, taken the expensive supplements. Gone to the pre-natal yoga and birthing classes. I’d envisioned the most loving welcome into the world for my son. Candlelight and a warm-water delivery, with a seasoned mid-wife, in the comfort of my own (albeit alternative) home. Organic cotton diapers were ready, and three months of maternity leave lined up. This debacle had started with a plan. Really.
At the time, in Hawaii, birthing at home was technically illegal. As for technicalities, living in a school bus probably was, too. I’d broken the rules, but this wasn’t a mere, fineable infraction. It was a potentially lethal mishap, shaming me with every contraction the ambulance driver asked me to ignore.
“Wait until we get to the hospital.”
FOOTNOTE: I will say that my healthy son was born (no C-section), not long after my arrival to the hospital. Though I had hoped for soft candles, and only my partner and midwife, circumstances went differently. Jeb came into the world with plenty of fanfare. Bells and whistles, bright lights, and at least ten people looking on. He’s a thriving 12 year old now…