“I correspond with some members of a group of people afflicted with PPH. One woman lives on a ranch in some Western state, more than an hour’s drive from a doctor, longer from a hospital. She blew a hole in her heart giving birth. The baby is okay. She barely survived.
I think about the baby inside me not having a mother. I am beginning to feel like I know him. He tells me his name is Max; Maximilian August. He likes to swim inside me, like a little fish. He sticks his head, fists and feet in my stomach, most days. At other times, he twirls around like a cat making itself comfortable on my lap. Only he’s inside.
In bed at night, we do Morse code on my stomach. Tap, tap, he goes, making rolling hills on my belly. Tap, tap, I respond, lightly drumming my fingers on his. We talk all the time. I tell him I’m sorry I am dying. I hope I can find him another mommy.
“Are you writing?” a friend asks.
“Yes,” I lie. How can I explain that my brain feels all like I’ve been hitting the cold medicine really hard and that writing doesn’t seem to have any point anymore? I have been writing professionally for more than a decade. I have filing cabinets full of yellowed newspaper clippings. Who, besides my mother, reads them? I have just been killing trees.
I call people I haven’t talked to in ages, friends or fellow writers, and update them on my life: I am pregnant and I am going to die.”
Published in Mamaphonic: Balancing Motherhood and Other Creative Acts, editors Bee Lavender and Maia Rossini, Softskull Press, Brooklyn, NY, November 2004, pp 72-77.