25 January 2010

Short Story: MissyMoo1's First Journey

As promised, I am posting the story I recently entered into a short story competition. I am fairly happy with it, although I could have used an extra 200 words or so to get it just the way I wanted it. Alas, the word limit was my foe. Unfortunately the story did not make the short list, but that's ok - the prizes weren't very good anyway!

The topic for the competition was pregnancy, birth or the first five years of a child's life. The story had to be non-fiction and attempt to move the reader either to tears or laughter. (Just in case the story is so bad that you're not sure - I was not aiming for laughter).

Here goes:

The utensils on the table next to me glistened in the light from overhead. Its fluorescence made them seem all the more cold and sharp. Although I did not want to look, I could not turn away from that table. I stared in disbelief that those implements resembling medieval instruments of torture might be used to pull the fragile newborn baby from my body.

The obstetrician entered the room signalling that I would soon begin to push out our much-anticipated, nine day overdue baby girl. I was exhausted. I had been in labour for 20 hours, including all through the night before. I was hungry. I had not eaten for 24 hours because there had been complications during my labour and my body needed to be prepared for a possible caesarean. But here I was, nearly at the end and ready to push out my baby. I was given lemonade to help me through, which neither quenched my thirst nor satisfied my hunger, but in my state I was happy to take what I could get.

The midwife and my husband put my legs in the stirrups to prepare me for pushing. I could not move my legs or feel anything at all from the waist down thanks to the epidural. Hubby squeezed my hand and I smiled at him. We both knew that soon our lives would be changed forever.

The midwife watched the monitor beside me and told me when to push. I gritted my teeth but I could not feel anything. I had no idea whether I was actually pushing or just holding my breath. After almost two hours of encouraging words and caring faces, the mood in the room suddenly changed. I looked up and saw the midwife and the obstetrician looking at each other with concerned expressions. The midwife noticed me looking at her and managed a smile. I then turned to Hubby and I could tell from his face that he had seen it too.

They told me that I was pushing hard and doing so well; they knew that I was tired but I was nearly there. The obstetrician said that the baby was getting distressed, that we had to get her out soon and that they needed an extra special effort from me. The obstetrician spoke a little too quickly and a little too loudly. She sounded stressed and it scared me.

I was so tired; I just did not want to push any more. After all that time, none of it seemed real. I could not imagine labour being over and having our baby out in the world with us. But after hearing what the obstetrician had said and how she had said it, I was terrified that something bad was going to happen. I took a deep breath and, fighting back tears, I pushed with all that I had in me.

When I next looked up, I saw people pouring into the room. Missy Moo 1 had been born, but what I had pictured as the happiest moment of our lives, a moment to savour, was a blur of confusion and noise. She was placed on my chest but I barely had time to wonder how to hold her when her limp body was swiftly taken from me. I looked for her but she had disappeared behind a wall of nurses. After an eternity, she was wheeled back to me on a trolley. I kissed the top of her head – it was all I could reach – before she was whisked away again, this time to a nursery on another floor of the building.

The room began to spin. I felt sick. Words and phrases were diving out of the obstetrician’s mouth and swimming around my ears: big baby; shoulder stuck; had to break her arm to get her out; no heartbeat; resuscitated; alive; possible brain-damage; know more in a few hours.

I was barely conscious, but I still felt hollow inside. After everything we had been through, I was not holding my baby. The little one had gone from the protection and warmth of my womb to a sterile incubator where she was fighting for life. Instead of being cuddled by her parents, she was surrounded by glass. Hubby was with her, holding her hand through the porthole in the incubator. It was the least we could do and the most we could do.

While my broken body was being repaired, I was unsure of whether to sleep or vomit. Thanks to the epidural I was not yet suffering from the physical pain of the ordeal, but it could not block out the emptiness and guilt I was feeling. Moments ago, MissyMoo1 had been inside me and Hubby was holding my hand; now they were both gone.

I was still in my bed when I was taken to see my daughter. I felt apprehension as I was pushed into the lift and down the corridor to the nursery. While we mere moving, the nurses apologised for taking MissyMoo1 away from me so quickly. MissyMoo1's first APGAR score had been zero, so they had needed to act quickly. I could hear the compassion in their voices. It was the first time I realised just how close we had come to losing MissyMoo1 before we had even had a chance to meet.

When we arrived I saw Hubby standing next to a glass box on a trolley. Inside was my MissyMoo1, with tubes up her nose and in her tiny hands. It did not seem fair that someone so small and innocent should be suffering so much. I could not believe that she was mine. I reached into the porthole and touched her arm. We were sad, scared and scarred, but we were all together again.


  1. Oh my goodness Fran, we had no idea! Wow what a story, both Cuz and I were blown away by this story, keep up the writing and hope the next one is more positive, however, I know this one turned out for the best. xoxoxo

  2. I can't imagine how terrifying that must have been for you both. I am so glad that it all turned out well in the end.


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