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Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Baby Born (My first experience with maternal loss)

Been wanting to unload my saddened spirit of this for some time now.  I was working on native land...in canyons that still echo voices of the ancestors.  There was a deep moving energy of healing in that place. Native chants…belly resonating drums…brilliantly hued regalia, centuries old. Long onyx hair on every woman. Unforgettable turquoise stone.  Sage brush…corn pollen…the sweet smell of ceremonial tobacco.  Sweat lodges billowing steam from volcanic-like glowing wood. Purging…confessing…praying in a commune of thick heated air.  I shared in this sacred place. I cared for the mothers.  My hands bore witness to hundreds of births. They shunned our methods of pain abandonment.  It was quiet grace in labor. Some squatted (like the memorable scene from Dances With Wolves). Others pulled from a sash affixed to the ceiling. I thought it leverage to the forces of labor. The cardinal signs were visible, branded above the bed.  It gave direction for prayer.  I saw medicine men working sacred magic over womb and infant. The chants arose again. Incense infused every ether in the air. They were making  right with the spirits.
This mom I met on the day of her labor.  My age.  She had one child...I had none.  The day seemed normal , if such is ever so.  In the room on the far left she labored peaceful through the night.  2am…as the moon shown strongest,  I’m summoned. I ran…labored breath to her bedside.  Skin once glowed now ghost. Where did she go? Scores of people worked to re-salvage life.  Decision demanded…I crusaded to the operating table.  Baby born.  Mother in heaven. 
We call it an amniotic fluid embolism.  A vexing  phenomenon...
Babies rarely live.  Mothers often die.
But, this baby born…this baby born…this baby born.
Her cry was beautiful…triumphant…knowing.  
She cried with piercing intensity the passage of her mother’s soul.
I cried…I cried…I cried…
But, this baby born.


  1. Beautiful, Tomekia. May G-d always bless you and the work that you do.

  2. With every passing there is sorrow. With every birth, joy. Nothing can ease the sorrow, it must follow its course and seek the source. I know what it is to lose a life you so desperately try to save. Mine was a young 17 year old, newly graduated and we missed all the clues...she died on my table. Once I escorted her family to the isolation room in PACU, I went in the next room with my ST Susie and wept, both of us wept and wept with our arms around each other. Life is precious. Life is sacred. You call witness to the most sacred each and every day. I love you Tomekia...let the tears return to the earth, home to the Mother who births us all.

  3. So heartbreakingly sad. Thank you for sharing your experience though. It is important to share.

    Back in '08 I was standing in the checkout line at the supermarket my one year old nestled in sling asleep against my chest, when I picked up a popular mothering magazine. The cover article was Masking Maternal Mortality by Ina May Gaskins. I read the whole article right there in line and wept. Wept big fat tears, sobbed loud and hard and only just managed to get myself and my child to the car before I wailed. Wailed at the senselessness of these losses. This is a topic that desperately needs to be talked about and addressed. Thank you for sharing your experience.