Day 14 of 31 Days in August
The Chronic Illness Collection of the PTSD Poetry Project 2016
“The Single Breath”
The day I remember so well
When so many have been forgotten
I remember this day so well
The day before all the other ones
So many days of worry
Blood seen and fears flared
Laying in bed for hours on end
Days on end
Weeks on end
Inside I knew
Somehow I knew
This was not the end
I read books
I watched the single station on TV
I lay on an old couch in front of the fireplace
I looked out the windows at mountain views
Snow melted and came again in drifts
I sat in a chair at the table looking at chipmunks
Which skittered across the deck
I walked back and forth outside
With dreams of rocking a baby in my arms
In this mountain air
I sat and watched deer in the afternoons
As they took a nap outside the deck
As snow came down harder I chopped wood for the fire
I lay on the couch and held my breath inside
As I waited
As you grew inside me
Until I could walk longer walks
I knew you intimately
You were deeply connected and part of me
The day the pains came
I was ready
The water gushed and I knew this time
Was THE time
Pain with wave upon wave
Until it stopped
Medicine given and pain began again
Sharper, harder pain than before
I knew it would end
This would not be forever
Closer each one brought me
The final moment
I finally hesitated
I knew this was the last time
We would ever be this intimately connected
Inside I grieved
Knowing this would be your fate
Many years in the future
To also know this moment
With a single deep breath
I pushed you into the world.
My most beautiful of girls
You took a single breath
And became your own person
No longer part of my body
I held you in my arms
And cried as I looked into your eyes
Those eyes which looked back into mine
I remember this day so well. This day when so many fears, so many hopes culminated into a time of joy. The day which was before all the things which have pulled me down into the abyss, thrown me back up over and over. Sometimes I’ve been rolled by the strongest riptide I thought never to be free of. It has only set me free when I thought I would take my last breath.
This day which occurred before all those days.
The days and nights of holding another person inside my body as they grew large enough to be in this world with me. Those times of learning so much about their rhythms, their waking times, active times and the quiet times. These all told me about the person to be. As I walked through my day, my gait getting all splayed, my hips widening I would feel the movement of this child to be. Sometimes the movement left me breathless from kicks under my ribs or against my hips. Other times it simply caused a joy inside of me to know how much I already loved this person and looked forward to getting to know them.
Even in the beginning when there was blood and I thought all was lost, I loved this person to be beginning to grow inside of me. Even when I saw the blood I knew, somehow in some part of me this was not the end. I lay on the couch in front of the fire for hours on end, watching the single T.V. Station or would read as I prayed this was not the end. Later I was able to walk around, sit in a chair to stare outside at the incredible views of the mountains.
Each day deer would come in the late afternoon and nap under the piñon trees as I would watch while sitting in a chair from the safety of the house. Chipmunks would skitter across the deck railing disappearing I knew not where. So tiny. The pinon trees had squirrels I’d never known before. Black squirrels with tall ears looking like some daytime bat would chatter in the trees as I walked back and forth across the deck.
Later, in the snow, I chopped wood for the fire each day and would walk behind the house to put leftover lettuce and carrots in front of a huge domestic rabbit burrow behind the house. So many times of driving in the snow with worry about getting stuck in the back roads.
So many worries and so many more were to come.
The pain began in the afternoon with a gush of water as I heard burros hee hawing in the mountain air. There had been so many false starts surely this was another. But the gush of water told me this was truth this time. It was finally time. Hours upon end of never ending pain. Wave upon wave. Then nothing. I.Vs started and the pains began again, wave upon sharp wave. Closer and closer until the time came to push this person to be out of my body. I hesitated as I knew this was the last moment we would be this close, this connected. Outside of my body I would have to guess at all the things I knew now knew so intimately.
I breathed and then pushed this beautiful baby girl into the world.