Friday, July 10, 2015

Crack

Back in April, I had the honor of reading an essay I wrote, at the 2015 production of Listen To Your Mother (Orange County)

I am grateful to my friends and family who came to see the show. Sharing the stage with 12 other amazing writers, we took our turns, crying, laughing and hugging, as each piece was read. It was a unique experience, and I encourage anyone, writer or not, to consider auditioning for a future production. 

A huge thank you to the producers of our show, Ciaran Blumenfeld, Cheryl Rosenberg, Angela Camacho and Katherine Kotkin. To my mother-in-law who flew all the way from Connecticut to be there, and also a very large MWAAAA to my friend Julie Gardner, who sort of held my hand to get me there. Lastly, to my fantastic writing group. I love you ladies!
Kim Tracy Prince
Charlene Ross
Rina Nehdar
Laurel Byrne


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Created by Ann Imig (Ann’s Rants), Listen to Your Mother began in 2010 and is now produced in 39 cities nationwide! LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER offers an opportunity for 12 people to share their voice from a moment in their journey through parenthood. Not only is this a chance to go with each reader as they portray motherhood through their journey, but LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER gives back to the community by supporting those in need. This production supported the WISE Place in Santa Ana.  

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Full text of my reading:

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”  
~ Leonard Cohen

I have missed whole seasons. Time has passed and all of a sudden it is 108 degrees outside. The past many months in hospitals has left us haggard and pasty skinned. I woke up this morning and realized that this time last year, we were only hoping to get pregnant.

The wreckage of my body after two plus years of fertility medication and an all too short pregnancy, left me ravaged. Now, my babies are fighting for their lives in two separate hospitals. ‘People’ say life will be easier once the kids get a bit older. Mostly I think these are people who do not have triplets born at 28 weeks gestation. I want to believe it. The reality is that every expectation I had ever had about motherhood has been shot to hell - instantly. One of our sons had just survived a major stroke and his first (of 13) brain surgeries. 

This day, as I hover over his NICU isolette, his rapidly paling skin connects with my gut, that primal, maternal howl deep inside that has no words, only action. I know something far worse is wrong. I run back and forth the two feet between his bed and the NICU nurses frantically, until they finally decide to transfuse him. But he is what they call a difficult stick. Every vein blows the moment the needle pierces the thin, premature skin in his arms, his feet, and finally, a vein in his scalp. I begin to lose my mind when I realize this is more than a transfusion can repair. I urge the Neonatologist to call UCLA and have Cole sent back there so his neurosurgeon can evaluate. 

My son has a neurosurgeon. MY son - has a neurosurgeon.

The blood test comes back just then. Cole has bacterial meningitis. How did I get here? Where is my breath? 

The room spins as I watch the transport team hustle in and painstakingly remove each line from this defenseless, tiny creature, only to reattach him to lines on the portable isolette. As the last one is peeled off his tiny face, I motion for them to stop. Confused, they let me know that the situation is dire and they cannot wait. But for one suspended moment, and for the first time, I am able to see Cole’s beautiful face. As our eyes meet something stirs in me that I cannot describe, and I quickly snap a photo of him on my phone before the lines are sealed back on his face with endless tape strips. 

I think I am collapsing. One of the nurses holds me up and points out that even though this is happening to my child now, if he had born healthy, there’s no guarantee that he wouldn’t suffer some other insult or injury later in life. Her intent is perspective, and it takes hold in my head, just not my heart. The immediate threat of his death terrifies me in a way I have never before felt. The flight nurses wheel Cole out and I run flights of stairs to the roof, desperately dragging my husband’s hand behind me. Barely able to choke back my sobs, I am relived to see that the helicopter is still there. I walk toward it as far as they allow me, clutching the flight wings pin they gave me for him, and watch my baby fly away into the sky. 

I call my parents and asked them to rush to the hospital, as they live a few minutes from UCLA. I cannot bear the thought of my infant son at the hospital, all alone and sliced open on an operating table. It takes us 45 minutes in traffic, though it seems like hours. Myriad obstacles seem to taunt me: parking the car, elevators, charge nurses with charts to show me. I finally walked to Cole’s post-op bed and look down at the piles of blankets surrounding his small body, in a bed much too large for him. I lift the sheet and run my fingers over his belly. Clear smooth skin that I knew had been sliced irreparably underneath the large bandages there, and the back of his bald and shaved head. 

I feel like I am going to crack into pieces. I am overwhelmed and want an escape. I hadn’t planned on having triplets at 40. I was uber-ready for one baby, not three. I try to take a deep breath and count to 10. But this is so far past that or any coping skill I know. What happens now? 

It breaks my heart that they bore a hole in Cole’s skull. It breaks my soul to realize my limitations. I feel selfish for being limited. I want to think it will pass, like a teacup that has broken and been repaired. I hope I can be tea-worthy again, ready to have more poured in, no matter the heat. 

You’ll only see the crack if you look closely. 

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