As I sat to write today's Summer Blog Challenge, I realize I have never told this story this completely. Every time I tell it, write it, share it, I almost don't... for a number of reasons. Then I reminded myself. I am a storyteller. The stories I share are a gift to the world. I have no way to know who needs to read this exact story at this exact time and if I don't share it, they won't hear it. I am meant to share it. With that, here is my response to -
How did your child get her name?
I wonder if other people feel compelled to answer with paragraphs of back story in response to questions or do they have the ability to just spit out the answer?
My spit out answer goes like this: Katherine was named for a dear friend of mine who cared for me while I was pregnant with my long awaited baby. She went with me to ultrasounds, doctors appointments and took phone calls from me whenever I was scared or anxious.
Plus her Dad’s name starts with K so it felt like I was honoring him, too.
That’s the spit out answer.
The longer answer includes these bits of backstory:
I tried to have my first baby for three years. THREE YEARS seems so impossible now, two decades later. Being pregnant was a dream come true: it was a fantastic pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, I had a deliriously happy family. We had bought our first home, Ken passed the bar exam on the first try: it felt like I was living in an altered state of wonderfulness. I couldn’t be happier until that snowy day in February.
I think I knew it at 8:30 in the morning when I felt what reminded me of a menstrual cramp except it wrapped around me from back to front, from bottom to top.
“Braxton-Hicks,” I insisted. “It is only Braxton-Hicks.” I was six weeks early, after all, Braxton-Hicks contractions were normal.
Shortly after that I started to have very slight bleeding and the “Braxton-Hicks” continued. They weren’t painful, I was merely aware of them coming and going just like the blood would come and go. My doctor’s office reassured me, telling me to lie down on my left side and call if it got worse.
I called some people to not be lonely. People offered to come to me, I told them “No, no, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me, everything is fine!”
It wasn’t fine.
Ken got home from work at about 7:30 and the Braxton-Hicks no longer felt like Braxton-Hicks. He wanted to take me to the hospital. I refused. I wanted to take a shower. Totally irrational… sounds like a woman in labor, right? I got into the shower and only reported half of the contractions that came, not all of them. They were pretty consistent at about five minutes apart or less.
When I got out of the shower I added vomiting to my labor dance and Ken stopped listening to me.
“We’re going to the hospital!” he said. I don’t remember dressing. I didn’t take anything with me, I just silently agreed. I know I wore black maternity pants. I don’t remember the shirt, though I think it was a red Motherhood maternity top my friend had given me.
We started driving from our home in Pine Mountain Club, which is about an hour from the hospital in Bakersfield. I stared at the clock, timing the contractions without telling Ken what I was doing because I didn’t want to scare him.
Fifteen minutes into the drive they stopped. I started breathing. It seemed to be over.
I relaxed my shoulders.
It was on the freeway on-ramp my water literally sprayed from me, like a fountain, all over the dashboard of the car. I stayed silent. I don’t think either Ken or I said a word.
Now I knew I couldn’t deny it.
I put my feet on the dash so I was sort of rolled up into an upward facing fetal position, my bottom hanging half off the front seat. No more pain, only the compelling need to bear down. I felt my perineum heat up. I knew from my three years of reading what that meant. I had a flash of pride for my body being able to do this.
I bore down. My baby’s head was released from my body.
I screamed. With tears in my voice I said to Ken, “Can you call an ambulance?”
Ken countered, “There is no time!” We were in a rural area. There were no cell phones then. It was just the three of us in a black Friday night hurtling toward the hospital. I felt the need to bear down again. The rest of her little body was released from me.
She was somehow, thought I didn’t know how at the time, somehow not coming from the cradle I made with my lower body. I held her there as we continued.
“Our baby is dead,” I said, with no emotion.
Ken kept driving. When we got to the hospital he ran inside and a large group of people came running out with a wheelchair which somehow I got into. They got my clothes off without me doing anything and somehow without me having any awareness, I was lying on an exam table in the room where they usually take rape victims as well as, I guess now when I reflect on it, women with gynecological or obstetric emergencies.
One of my doctor’s partners came into the room. He took a moment and then said to me, whispering in my ear with great compassion, “You had a girl.”
I never held my daughter. She was whisked from the room in a tupperware like box that had blue liquid in it. I saw the outline of her body inside the nearly clear container. Still now, twenty three plus years later this sight makes me cry.
They took away the black maternity pants which were covered in blood and gave me scrubs to wear home. I threw them away, too. I got more cards then I could count. I hand wrote thank you notes to everyone who wrote to me, including my friend Katherine's grandma who said, "I have never gotten a thank you note like this before."
Twenty-two months later on Christmas Morning I gave birth to my Katherine. A three hour labor, again unmedicated, this time with a living baby born three weeks early as a reward.
My friend Katherine was going to be there at the birth but again, I was in denial until I was at the hospital “to get checked” that I was going to give birth. Who gives birth on Christmas morning?
My Mother told me she knew it was Marlena, my baby who died, and God, conspiring to give me an unforgettable Christmas gift.
Marlena’s sister, Katherine, is now waiting to go to University of Edinburgh in Scotland for the Fall Semester.
Her namesake, Katherine, died of breast cancer four years ago. She was only forty-six years old.
That is the backstory of how my eldest living child got her name.
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© 2012 by Julie Jordan Scott
Julie Jordan Scott has been a Life & Creativity Coach, Writer, Facilitator and Teleclass Leader since 1999. She is also an award winning Actor, Director, Artist and Mother Extraordinaire. She was twice the StoryTelling Slam champion in Bakersfield. She leads Writing Camp with JJS & this Summer will be traveling throughout the US to bring this unique, fun filled creative experience to the people wherever she finds the passion & the interest.
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