The midwife who attended my stillbirth was beautiful. Her name was something like June or Juliet. She sat at the end of my hospital bed, framed between my spread knees. Her mouth set in an unhappy line and she was strangely silent. My husband, Edgar, shook in full body trembles in his seat beside me. I lay pinned to the bed, the source of all the trouble. I was delivering a dying five-and-a-half-month-old fetus.
The midwife wore light blue scrubs. The space between her eyebrows was furrowed, and she was not quite meeting my gaze. Younger than the other midwives I’d met during my short pregnancy, I decided she belonged somewhere else. I wanted to gently lead her out of the dark room into a sunlit kitchen. I wanted to sit her down at a table with a cup of tea. She belonged in a yoga studio with other beautiful women or a hospital room where a live infant waited to be caught. Not this nightmare place.
What do you remember from life at age eleven? Do you remember your sixth grade teacher? Do you remember your crush? This is typically a time in which we start to notice our bodies changing at rapid degrees. Our sense of self-consciousness grows with new acne and hair and hips and breasts. Our friends and school are our world. We want to experience more than what is in our homes, we yearn to become teenagers like the ones in the movies.
When Steve, my grandmother Margo’s partner of fourteen years, is diagnosed with bladder cancer, they begin sleeping on kitty-corner couches in their living room. He can’t make it upstairs anymore. She says she sleeps better down there anyways. If you saw her propped up on her cheap memory foam pillow, reading by the light of a makeshift headlamp (bike light rubber-banded to a headband), you would believe her.