Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Grandparents Through The Glass
By Linda Davis of Grammology
I remember waking in a haze, the world moved from blissful anticipation to confused isolation in the blink of an eye. I didn't know yet what had happened.
They were afraid to tell me. I remember my blue bathrobe, soft terrycloth protecting my swollen belly. It was heaving in time just like it was supposed to. A blur of motion, pain, madness and anticipation. Then ticker tape showing my baby's heart going from normal to not in seconds.
Blue bathrobe, crumpled ticker tape, baby in distress, lights, a scrawled signature, a heaving need to push, push, push, a mask. The end.
My last memory was laying on a moving bed, the sound of oxygen that was pushing my lungs, an urgent appeal for them to keep working. Looking up at blue masks. Right, the masks. Noise and confusion. I looked down past my feet. There was my husband. He looks strange, eh? I wasn't used to seeing fear in those eyes. His big frame standing against a stark white wall. He caught a glimpse of me on the stretcher and I watched in slow motion as he sunk to his knees in a heap on the floor. Darkness.
Then this world of isolation. Ticking machines. People peeping at me from glass windowpanes. Bursts of information. Need gloves and masks. Infection. Risk. She needs sleep. Hushed words, hurried nurses, pity in their eyes.
Where is my baby? Did I have a baby? Is my swollen belly gone now, it is. Where is my baby?
A son, a boy. Oh. A video, blurry, moving, boy? My boy?
FEAR, like a shot. Where is he? Why is he not here? Is he OK?
He's healthy. He's OK. Then why am I here? Alone? Isolated?
FEAR, like a hot spurt in my gut. FEAR.
More nurses. Quick movements. Questions answered with awkward silences.
My eyes darted around the room. For anything familiar, anything to hold on to, to ground my thoughts, my senses, my racing panic.
I looked toward the door.
They were peering in, tentative, grim, delicate. Their first grandchild. There was so much anticipation. So much joy. Thank God he was OK. But I wasn't. And now, here they were squeezing each other in a sad embrace, looking. At me. Through the glass. Pain, sorrow turned in an instant when they caught my gaze. They smiled in unison. Smiles of hope, of togetherness, of sorrow. Of age. Of wisdom.
Their smile held me like a sweet scented embrace, like the softness of a mother's chest. They grounded my fears, making me feel in an instant that I would be OK. That our boy was OK. That we were all OK.
OK because they were there, now anything was possible.
I don't know them anymore. You lose a lot in divorce. Your in-laws among them. You may have cordial interactions, you may have distant interludes. But lines are drawn. They belong to your child, but not to you anymore.
Do they know how they saved my life that day? Do they know that their smiles gave me the hope to believe that all would be well, that I would get better, that I had a baby and that he was OK somewhere?
The day my son was born I had lost any chance to have another child. But the memory of those faces in the window blunt the pain that lingers even now.
Tonight I showed my boy this story. He's a man now. We hugged silently.