The Stillborn: Short Fiction

Image source: dict.space.4goo.net

 

In a crumpled bed of blood and free-flowing love, my child is born. Let me hold him close. Let me look at him him in his fairy-winged sleep. Let me bathe him with my milk and unrestrained tears, that had awaited his first cry, sprouting open, unfurling the soft petals of his sleep.

“Nurse, please tell me if it is a boy or a girl!”

“A boy? Oh, my bunny boy, I did dream about you with your curly locks, your drooling mouth and tattering footsteps, chortling away. And I would love you all the more if you were a dimple-chinned, chubby cheeked girl with soft, precious fingers, curling up to my face…..”

“But where are you, my child of delight, my baby boy?”

I can feel his tiny fingers folded, resolute, his curled up limbs, his body like a sonnet, unfolding before eternity. Do let me hold him close until his cry merges in whirlwind, in spirals, in harmony with my never-ending lullaby.

****************************************

“The patient is still in a delirium. We will still need to keep her under strong doses of morphine and narcotics to deal with the postpartum pain and stress”, the nurse walks out of the recovery room to work under the instructions of the team of the doctor, other nurses and the midwife.

“The baby boy was stillborn. We are extremely sorry for your loss. It happens sometimes with premature deliveries, and there were complications since the first trimester.” The young nurse and the aged midwife came up to the perplexed, anxious family waiting outside the surgery room. They were trying to console the bewildered young man who had dreamed of holding his offspring of love in his arms at this very instant.

A helpless, insistent bout of tears flowed, vulnerable, dismayed, followed by the inevitable act of settling down with the bitter truth, the query and the striving to move on.

“But how is my wife doing? Can I go and meet her now?”

“Well, you can, but at this point she is still not in her senses, you see—she is having intrusive thoughts, intense distress and is delusional. She is asking to see the baby, believes that he is alive. We are trying our best to revive your wife. She should be back to her senses soon.”

“How are you, sweetheart? See what I brought for you!” He came to her and hugged her.

“You know, both of our parents, your sister, your nephew, my little niece, all are waiting for you in the reception lounge. Get well very soon and we will take you back home. Ok? Now be a good girl and eat this favorite pudding that you asked for before coming here.”

“Have you brought our baby boy? Where is he? Does he have my curly hair, your hazel eyes and the pout of your lips?”

“Sweetheart, listen to me. You love me, don’t you? For my sake, you have to recover, and be strong, really strong…” he implored on her, held her tight, trying to feed her a spoonful of the food she had loved.

The muffled tears, the feeble shrieks and yells echoed in the plastic silence of the surgery room. The tears of both intertwined in the room, just as they did a year back. A tiny embryo stopped moving and came out of the nurturing comfort of the womb and splattered on the bathroom floor in spurts of blood, battered and slain. With frosted, shaking hands, both of them craved to pick up the pieces, the tissues, the scattered formation of their love that lay afloat, surrendering, dying.

“Listen, we diagnosed her with some Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) problems. It is sometimes an after effect of childbirth, especially after delivering a stillborn. We really need some invasive medical interventions and antidepressants to bring her back to normal.” The medical team reentered the room, requesting complete privacy.

….I don’t care a hoot for the tingling wave of pain in the folds of my muscles, for the soreness, the swelling of my nerves, my bones, the monitor and the machinery, the bubbles of conspiracy lulling me to sleep. I won’t succumb to the call of sleep till I hold my crying baby, till I don’t feed him. Bring him to me; I want look into the verse, the melody of his face, the valley of my body gleaming with the first ray of my newborn’s smile.

I am not a part of this vicious silence, this numbness around. The room stinks with your hushed conversations, your measured intrusions and the smell of sedation. Whose demon hands plunged into the room and plucked my cherub?

“Is that you, or is that the nurse? Who took away my baby? Is he still sleeping in his nursery? When was the last time that I fed him?”

The questions, the frail voice, the clattering of teeth and writhing, the urgency and the disbelief was numbed, silenced with a couple of injections as the medical team came back to the room.

…In my inviting arms, I rock and lull my baby to sleep. Sleep, my precious child, while I tickle and caress your angelic face.  All this while, my body had been bursting open in pain and surrender, to see him cry, to settle him in the soiree of my bosom. The silence of the room is numinous, resounding. I hum, in voiceless notes, my unsung lullabies.

Note: This short fictional piece is a humble dedication to mothers who have lost their little angels in the process of childbirth. Most of the narrative written in a ‘stream-of-consciousness’, poetic voice of a delusional mother who believes that her newborn is still alive.

 

The Stillborn

In a crumpled bed of blood and free-flowing love
My child is borne. Let me hold him close,
Let me behold him in his fairy-winged sleep,
Let me bathe him with my milk and unshed tears
That had awaited his first cry, sprouting open,
Unfurling the soft petals of his sleep.

His tiny fingers folded, resolute,
His curled up limbs, his body like a sonnet
Unfolding before eternity, do let me
Hold him close until his cry merges
In whirlwind, in spirals, in harmony
With my never-ending lullaby.

What is this tingling wave
Of pain in the folds of my muscles?
This soreness, swelling of my nerves,
My bones crackle, the monitor and the machinery
The bubbles of conspiracy lull me to sleep.
I won’t succumb to the call of sleep till I hold
My crying baby, till I don’t feed him,
Look into the verse, the melody of his face
The valley of my body gleaming with
The first ray of my newborn’s smile.

I am not a part of this vicious silence, this numbness around.
The room stinks with your hushed conversations,
Your measured intrusions and the smell of sedation.
Whose demon hands plunged into the room
And plucked my cherub?
Can’t you see my body bursting open in pain
And surrender, to see him cry?
To settle him in the soiree of my bosom?

The silence of the room, numinous, resounding,
Calls you, my baby. I hum, in voiceless notes,
Your unsung lullabies.

Footnotes: My humble dedication to the mothers in all parts of the world who have lost their little angels during childbirth. This poem is written in the voice of a delusional woman who believes her stillborn child is alive. All my sincere thanks to The Woman Inc Poetry Project for this writing prompt and for all your wonderful poems in response to it.

A Woman I Am

images

The woman, the mother and the daughter. Image source: http://www.stressreliefwizard.org

“Which of your roles you find central to your being ? Being a mom, or daughter, or teacher, or student, a professional or a homemaker, or anything else ? Write, and then write a poem too”.

This was a weekend writing prompt that one of my virtual friends, a poet/writer had initiated in an online writing forum in Facebook dedicated to women writers/poets and/or artists. Based on her beautiful weekend writing prompt, here is my humble attempt to define myself as the mother, the daughter. The umbilical cord, long severed physically, remains within us and reshapes our life, in ways more than one.

 

A Woman I am

(1)
The umbilical cord is bespattered
With blood, mucus and a chill of pain.
The child, first a foreign growth
And then, a mirror image of her own,
A wet, moving mass, is expelled
After spasms rushing out, gushing, in waves.
In laboring, birthing, in the pain
And bliss that returns,
The daughter becomes the mother,
The mother comes to the daughter in shared wound
At birth, both are united by a raw pain of separation.
A child with a descent line, sustained with
Her life-blood and love, fingers, nails, toes,
Eyes, ears, nose, lips, trailing after her.

                              (2)
A woman I am, the umbilical cord, the conjoined life
Of my mother and me, long dried up, severed
Yet a fire in my soul that illuminates my trails.
Walking barefoot, parched and reckless,
Swimming, moving, arms wide spread
In the lost tides of time,
The cord, long lost, pulls, tugs at my womanhood
In elemental wonder. The cord is the dance,
The merry-go-round and the preciousness of love
As I writhe in pain, longing.
I am gorging in smoke and flames
As the child is borne in beauty and pain.
I am the woman, the daughter and the mother
A little nursling, I squirm, thrash, snuffle
Am unbuttoned inside milky warmth.
A woman, a lustrous being, the miracle of birth
Latches onto my being, holds onto my seraphin wings.
A woman I am, the umbilical cord beckons me.