Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
A young mother's despair overwhelms her.
The glass hit the wall with a crash and shattered into millions of pieces. The woman slid down the opposite wall. "Shut up! Shut up!" she cried out hopelessly, while pressing her hands over her ears to muffle the sounds coming from the next room. A slight flicker of the lights and rumble of distant thunder made her turn her gaze to the window. Outside the world was dark, wet and cold. Just like that night, she thought, that night that led to the shattering of her life, echoed in the shards now littering the floor. Perhaps the ominous and forbidding weather then, had been an omen of things to come, she mused. Nature's foreshadowing of the turn her life would take the night her child first greeted this cruel world - three months too soon...
When the pains first started she hadn't quite been able to believe it. She woke her husband and they rushed to the hospital, both with fear in their hearts. To lose their baby now - after despairing of ever having a child for so long - would be unbearable. The pain was severe. Much worse than she expected. The doctor told them it was too late to stop the labour. Their child would have to be born tonight. He reassured them that the hospital's neo-natal unit was top-of-the-line and that, despite the baby's early arrival, chances of survival were very high. They put her in a private room while her contractions were still reasonably far apart. Everything felt unreal. She was aware of her husband holding her hand and encouraging her to breathe through the pain, but she felt disconnected from it all. The electric lights flickered briefly, and then resumed their steady humm. The flicker drew her gaze to the window next to her bed. The sky was dark grey and rain lashed the window panes. Even over the sounds of the hospital she could hear the wind howling outside. She shivered involuntarily, thinking of what a desolate looking world her child was about to enter.
Nurses came in periodically to monitor her contractions and, once they determined her time was near, two of them wheeled her bed to a nearby delivery room. She barely heard their quiet reassurances. Once he'd been gowned, her husband rejoined her, but she was only vaguely aware of his presence. Her focus was on how wrong everything felt, her disbelief that this was happening, and her sudden fear that, after tonight, nothing would ever be alright again.
The doctor came to check how far she had progressed and decided that it was time for the baby to be born. She began to push, while breathing rhythmically, as she'd been taught. But even though she felt like she was being torn in two nothing seemed to be happening. Through tear-filled eyes she saw the doctor exchange a worried glance with the nearest nurse, who quickly stepped outside the room, returning shortly with another, older nurse. Then he turned to her: "The baby is having some trouble coming out, so what I need you to do is to push, as hard as you can, when I tell you to, alright?" She nodded her head and felt her husband squeeze her hand, both of them too terrified to ask any questions. "Now." The doctor stated. She bore down with all her might and, as a scream of pain was wrenched from her throat, felt something give. In the next instant there was frantic movement by the foot of her bed. The additional nurse bundled the baby up in a blanket and then she and the doctor rushed from the room without a word to the worried parents of their charge. For a few seconds the new mother stared at the door in shock. Then the realisation dawned that there had been no indignant cry to signal her child's unwilling arrival in the outside world. In fact, there had not been any sounds from the baby at all. Terrified she turned to her husband, only to see the same horror reflected on his face.
One of the remaining nurses quietly escorted her husband from the room. The other two assisted her in getting cleaned up and moved her back to the room she had occupied before, where her husband was now waiting. After reassuring them that the doctor would be by to see them soon the nurses left them there to wait. To worry. To imagine the worst. Time seemed to drag on, mere minutes taking on the feel of hours. They waited in silence, both too afraid to voice their worries. Finally the doctor came. From the grave look in his eyes she knew that the news would be upsetting and tried to steel herself. She tightened the grip she had on her husband's hand, and felt him respond in kind. Then, in a surprisingly steady voice, she asked whether their child was still alive. The doctor quickly assured her that, yes, their child was alive - and in a stable condition - in the neonatal intensive care unit. And then he uttered the words that she still heard in her nightmares. /Cerebral palsy/. /Brain damage/, resulting from asphyxia during birth. Their child, the one they had hoped and prayed for for so long would never have a normal life, or even a reasonably productive and meaningful one. Instead, life would be a burden, for both child and parents, a continuous struggle with no end in sight. Except death. The doctor explained how the early labour had been triggered by an infection and that, because of the premature birth, the baby had not been correctly positioned for delivery. The delay caused by the repositioning resulted in severe brain damage since the baby's oxygen supply was cut off for an extended period of time. "As for the cerebral palsy, it is unfortunately always a risk factor for premature babies..." he continued to explain, but she didn't hear him. Through her shock and horror, she never even heard him leave...
From that terrible day, life as they knew it changed dramatically. It was as if the doctor's words had opened the gates to a never-ending and, heretofore unimaginable hell. The happy anticipation of becoming parents gave way to anguish and disappointment. Instead of revelling in their new roles as parents they found themselves dreading each new day, knowing as they did that it would only bring more heartache and worry.
As a mother she believed it was her duty to spend every waking moment at her child's side. Because of how focussed she was on being there for her child she neglected to take into account how the stress and disappointments were affecting her husband. She completely overlooked the strain her single-mindedness and frequent absences was placing on her marriage. For that reason, when the doctors finally declared the now six-month-old child healthy enough to go home, her husband's suggestion of an alternative destination caught her completely off guard.
At first she couldn't believe he was serious. Now, after everything they had gone through just to reach this point. How could he even make such a suggestion! Then, as she thought about it, she began to realise that he had slowly been distancing himself for weeks. Where, in the beginning he had hospital joined her in her vigil over their child at the hospital every spare moment he had, the visits had slowly started to become less and less frequent. She had ascribed it to an increased workload brought on by their need for extra money to pay all the hospital fees, when she had noticed his absence at all. Finally her eyes were opened to the wall of fear, anger and pain that had risen between them, blocking all channels of communication. Their once close relationship had been put to the ultimate test, and under the strain it had crumbled. Yet neither one wanted to be the first to admit it. Her husband acceded to her desire for their child to finally be taken home. In her heart she hoped that living as a family, no matter how different from the norm, would allow their wounds to heal. She did not anticipate just how difficult caring for her constantly crying offspring would be without the assistance of the nurses. Nor did she realise how much her husband had already emotionally detached himself from the child. Their relationship had become one filled with frequent arguments and bitter recriminations. Finally, unable to stand the constant wailing and fighting, he moved into the garage while their doctor prescribed anti-depressants for her. A few weeks later the divorce papers were signed and she was alone, with only the crying of the innocent cause of all the pain and anger for company.
A flash of light, reflected off glass, drew her back to the present and she once again became aware of the wailing coming from the next room. She turned her gaze once more to the shattered glass. Shattered. Like the dreamed for future of the child crying in the next room. Shattered like the love and the marriage that had led to that child's creation. She hid her face in her hands as her sobs echoed with her despair.
The next morning she buckled the child into the car seat and together they set off for a destination she had sworn more than once never to even consider. A few hours later a nurse stood, with the child balanced on her hip, watching sadly as the car disappeared down the driveway of the institution, knowing it would never be back - and that the woman driving it would never forgive herself for what she had just done.