Still A Mother
The darkness of the room was comforting, all the better to see that small screen. She had been anticipating this day since she booked it a few weeks earlier, finally able to see her precious baby. Her excitement was obvious in her expression as the details slowly appeared, a spine, a heartbeat, a face. She was so engrossed in the magical images, that she didn’t notice the frown on the sonographer’s face.
He did, however. He missed nothing. He didn’t wish to upset her, so sat quietly beside her while they waited for the doctor, holding her hand in both of his and hoping she did not feel his anxiety. Perhaps he had misunderstood, and seeing the doctor was normal. They hadn’t done this before, after all.
She couldn’t remember the name of the problem that the doctor told her. It didn’t matter anyway. All that mattered were those words that came after—incompatible with life. They hit her like a punch in the face. Her baby would be born, and then die.
And then they asked her to make a choice. End it now, or wait until Mother Nature called the baby home. What sort of choice was that? Not one that any mother should have to make, that’s for sure. She certainly couldn’t. That was Nature’s choice, not hers.
Did she have any questions?
Questions? Questions? How could she ask a question in that moment? There was only one, but it could never pass her lips. How exactly does one live with the knowledge that your child, your desperately awaited, precious baby, safe inside you, with beating heart and dancing limbs, was already condemned to death?
Her mind spun in a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. She lashed out at her husband for the slightest detail, then dissolved into weeping a moment later. She sat and stared for hours on end, looking at nothing but feeling everything. Why? Why her baby? She had done everything right. All those recommendations, she had followed every single one, down to the letter. She felt the fluttering movements, she saw and heard the heartbeat. There was life! Maybe she would wake up and all would be fine. Yes, a nightmare. A prolonged, excruciating nightmare. That’s what this was.
One small phrase finally created some sense of acceptance. ‘You are still a mother’. One little comment, she couldn’t even remember who said it, that made sense of the situation. Mother Nature may rob her of her child soon enough, but she could never rob her of motherhood. She could never take away the magic feeling of a life moving inside her, the immense love of a mother towards her child, the gift of life, no matter how brief. She would nurture and protect this life, as any mother would, until Nature’s call could no longer be ignored.
Death did not frighten her. It hurt. Oh, did it hurt. But she had the courage to pull her through.
Bio: This piece was originally created for the Hunter Writers centre ‘Grieve’ competition.