I am forty-two years old and I am sitting in this chair because they said it was time for me to deliver. They told me the baby in me is not alive. They called it Hydrops. I have eleven children. This twelfth one – I do not understand what happened. I did not love it any less. I am a good mother. It is all I knwo, all I have done with my life. Now I am tired. There is a student checking in on me now and then, asking about contractions, any blood leaking. She is friendly but uncomfortable. She does not speak Spanish. I do not speak English.
She is sitting in a chair, looking out a window. I cannot tell if she is sad or tired. I am very sad for her, but I try not to show it – what good will it do her?
I am sitting in this chair, waiting. Mi esposo, he is here. He is tired too. We do not understand why this is happening. But we believe God and His saving grace. This child, it will go straight to God in Heaven. It will watch its brothers and sisters from above.
Council of residents and attendings are deciding what to do with the patient. I am listening, but I am going home tonight. What if she delivers in the night? Will she be so sad? What will the hydrops look like?
They tell me this morning that I will deliver soon. The contractions come often. I do not feel very sad right now. Sometimes it is better not to feel. They are taking me to another room – just in case anything complicated happens.
She did not deliver in the night. She is going to the OR, but no C-section unless needed.
Now I am pushing and pushing. I can feel the baby coming. It is quiet, so quiet here. Only my periodic cries fill up the space.
The hydrops baby is delivered. Swollen, rubbery, with limbs permanently flexed. It is purple-pink all over. It is not alive. It does not look so strange, nor does it look completely normal. It looks like a baby that a mother and father could love. They take it to the warming table.
The strange postpartum choreography is excited. Some remain with the mother. Some move toward the baby at the warmer, curiosity marking their path. I want to see, too. Out of curiosity? Out of respect? I do not know why I want to see.
The Spanish-speaking resident is asking if we want to see it now. Yes, we do. Yes, we are sure – now…So. So this is our son, our twelfth child. He is beautiful. He is sleeping. He is with God. They take him away.
The nurse takes the hydrops baby out of the OR, past the desk, to its room. I am walking behind her. She is asking who wants to see it. Too many people stand up to follow her.