La Mia Fragolina Perfetta

September 20, 2013

It’s been one week since my Sofia died. They tried to revive her for twenty minutes. They were preparing to transfer her to the Bronson Children’s Hospital. But there was nothing they could do.

My mom had declared that she didn’t want to watch me labor, but she really did want to be there for the delivery. I said that was fine. The plan was that Heather and Nicki would text her now and then, and my parents would come to the hospital when I was dilated to eight or nine or ten. After all, they only live ten minutes away. Okay, maybe fifteen… if traffic is really bad… and they can’t find a parking space. But when the time came, she couldn’t stay away. According to my dad, it was around 2 or 2:15 (at the latest) that they got to the hospital. My dad waited downstairs in the atrium lounge while my mom came up to join me. I told her that I thought she didn’t want to watch me labor. She said she changed her mind.

When Sofia was finally born, when she finally slipped out and the cord was cut so that the nursery staff could tend to the meconium she’d inhaled and revive her, my mom held me. All I kept thinking, and saying, was that she had to be okay. She just had to.

When things were not getting better, my mom called and told my dad to come upstairs. I know my sense of time was lacking anything related to precision because I swear it took him less than a minute to walk through the door.

And then someone turned to the midwife and said, “We’ve been trying for twenty minutes. We’re going to call it.”

I know I screamed, “NO!” How could my baby girl, who only earlier that day had been kicking me, whose heartbeat the nurse was able to track throughout my labor and delivery, be dead?

I’d torn during the delivery. The midwife hadn’t finished my stitches when Sofia was pronounced dead. She offered to give me a few minutes, but I said to just finish. It wouldn’t make any difference at this stage.

They placed my baby girl on my chest. And she was so beautiful. And perfect. Five perfect little toes on each foot. Five perfect little fingers on each hand. A perfect little nose. A perfect little mouth. And perfect little ears. (My mom was especially pleased with how perfect her ears were.) And hair. A full head of curly hair. My mom got a cloth and washed part of Sofia’s head. As the sun caught her hair, it glinted with red. La mia fragolina, my little strawberry, with red hair and blue eyes.

And even though we all knew I would have to give her up eventually, I was not given a timetable. I could hold her for as long as I wanted. It would never be long enough. It will never be long enough. But at least I was given some time with her.

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