Sunday, August 1, 2010


On August the 1st 1999 at three o’clock in the morning my phone rang. A voice I knew as well as my own responded to my hello. “I know you weren’t going to come till in the morning, but would you come up here now, I don’t want to be alone.” it said. This voice sounded different, I had been hearing it her entire life…yet it wasn’t as familiar as it had always been…there was a tinge of fear, anticipation, worry and excitement in it like I had never heard before. “I’ll be there in about 30mins” was my reply. I got up got dressed, told my husband I was going to the hospital and I left. On the drive to the hospital I had a thousand thoughts running through my head, the most repetitive one being, let it all go smoothly. I arrived at the hospital about a min before a young not bad looking anesthesiologist. He came into the room to administer an epidural. It was the largest needle I had ever seen in my life. I held her head and encouraged her to focus on me as he injected the elixir into her spine. The nurse informed me that now she would be in the room at all times. The three women in the room her, the nurse, and myself began a conversation. No she hadn’t had any difficult contractions yet the epidural was a precautionary method…there was a chance the cervix softener which had been used hours ago would not be enough and they would have to use a drug injected directly into the I.V. to induce hard labor. The small stranger who had yet to breath air outside of the woman’s body was two weeks late. I yawned as the conversation faded into the sounds of machines beeping information and details understood only by the nurse. I began to fall asleep sitting up on the edge of the bed holding her hand. The nurse showed me how the chair in the room folded out to become an uncomfortable excuse for a much to small bed. I was given a pillow and a blanket. I took off my glasses, silently chastising myself for not having thought to put my contacts in, lied back and dozed off.

A little more than an hr later the nurse was calling my name and nudging me gently but insistently. I sat up rubbed my eyes put on my glasses, and looked over to the woman. She looked different, she had small beads of sweat on her forehead and her eyes were closed, her breathing was labored, and every now and then she would take large breaths of air and hold them for just a fraction of a second. She looked over at me…”They were just about to give me the medicine to start labor when the contractions started, they have been getting worse since.” She tells me. I look to the nurse “If there is anyone you want to call you should call them now, there isn’t much time” She informed me. I make two phone calls. Then I make my way over to the bed and wipe her forehead and kiss her and take her hand in mine. Less than 10mins later the room seems to fill magically. As if someone pushed a silent alarm. There were people everywhere all nurses and drs. There was added equipment machines, incubators and a scale. She was instructed to begin pushing. I was joined in the room by her partner, who helped to bring this child into being. I grabbed a leg and began to encourage her to bring the life in her womb to the world. In an instant the bottom half of the bed was taken away, a large plastic bag was put in it’s place and an official looking man in a white coat was sitting on a stool between her thighs. With everyone working together like a well oiled machine, she was encouraged to push, getting only a few seconds of breathing time in between pushes. Finally only about 5mins into what they call “hard labor” I was told to come and look, I was hesitant…after all that’s a hugely messy area. I sucked in all my breath and took a step forward, bent my head and saw a large black circle…”what is that?” I asked “That’s the head” came the answer from somewhere. A level of excitement rose in me like nothing I had ever felt before, “She’s almost here!” I excitedly reported to the woman, as if she had no idea what was going on. Less than a min later I heard a sigh come from this woman unlike any I had ever heard before it felt as if the entire universe sighed with her. Just 10seconds later the child was free from her body. “It’s a girl” someone announced.

As I stood next to her body still holding her leg, while she attempted to finish her woman’s work, I strained to hear the sounds of a new life. There were none. I looked around the room and asked the first set of eyes I met “Is she okay?” No one answered. I was instructed to let her leg go, she was told to relax, her work was done it was all up the dr. now. She began to look curiously around the room as well. “Why isn’t she crying?” she asked no one in particular. We could both see the small body move around the room. Each person she was handed to explored another part of her body and announced their findings to a tall quiet woman in the corner with a pen and chart. When the small, plump, pink and red baby made it’s way to the final machine and nurse, there was some kind of goop placed unceremoniously in both of her eyes, as a cloth was rubbed over her face and head, in that instant a sound began to emerge. A loud piercing instinctual cry filled the room. The woman and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes and our souls raw and open, and smiled.

An hour later, the room is full of family, there is a sense of joy, excitement, wonder and activity in the room. There is also, much harder to detect, a feeling of sadness. She is sitting up in the bed now, after having her body sewn back into place. She was holding the silent, tiny miracle wrapped in a blanket up to her chest. She was touching her fingers and kissing her face. Watching her gently run her fingers over the babies black bunch of hair, I realized I was watching the universe’s ultimate miracle, a child was born, as was a mother. She was lost in the sweet smell, and soft feel of the babies’ skin, hair and breath. There was no talking in the room people were standing around just watching this woman with this brand new helpless life. After what seemed like an eternity, she looks over at me.

“Do you want her?” she asks me. It seems to most like an odd choice of words, Would you like to hold her would have made more sense to most, but then most wouldn’t understand the situation anyway. I walk to the side of the bed. I look her deep in her black eyes. Eyes I have seen and known, it seems, since time began. She asks her question again. “Do you want her?” I lean in close to both of them. “Yes” comes my answer so quiet and weak I could barely hear myself. She looks at the baby again, and then says. “She does everything in her own time, even being born. Don’t rush her. Please take care of her.” She leans towards me and hands me the bundle, I take the small perfect angelic figure in my arms I look past the tiny life she has just placed in my arms and instead I look at the woman sitting before me. I lean in to her ear, “I promise you she will have a better life than we did, I promise you she will want for nothing. Thank you. I love you sissy.” She touches my face and we kiss, we both have tears in our eyes, she leans down kisses the tiny female’s forehead and guides her head as I step back. The monumental figurative and literal meaning of the exchange that has just taken place is lost on no one in the room. I stand back looking at the beautifully perfect child in my arms as I walk slowly to the window. I look out to the bright day outside. I lift the small child to my face, and tell her “welcome to the world, it’s a beautiful place. You will always be safe and loved.” I turn around to look back at the woman. She has changed again, she seems tired now, smaller, quieter and somewhat lost. She smiles at me in a ignorant unknowing way.

The woman is gone. The confused adult child has returned. She is again the same child in a woman’s body I have always known. There was some time there when she was complete…a few brief minuets when she was not confused or immature or lost or mentally incomplete….there was a brief time when she was part of the universe part of something I will never fully understand something I will never feel, an experience I will never have. If only for those few brief moments she was whole, she was everything I had always wanted for her. She was a woman.

Two days later I would take that tiny and perfect human being home, she would be my daughter from that day forward. I would forever be connected to the woman in a special mysterious way only the universe itself could ever comprehend.

That woman was my sister. One of the strongest women I will ever know. She made a sacrifice that day, only a woman could understand the weight of. She made a sacrifice that day not many women would be strong enough to handle. She made a mother where there wasn’t one before.

My daughter is 11yrs old today. I will cherish and revel in her existence today, I will also remember the reason she is here, the reason I’ve had the last 11yrs. I will remember the sacrifice made for her, by her Aunt Toni. I will remember the promise I made. I will remember to send a ball of appreciative and loving energy to my sister. I will remember to thank the universe.

I will remember the circumstances in which I became a mother and in which a mother became an Aunt, circumstances in which a female child was entrusted from one sister to another, and the ultimate sacrifice was made when this woman’s work was done.

Monica Turner
August 1st 2010


Marlene said...

Wow...that was some powerfully written blog post!!!!