White Sheets


almost didn’t have a child of my body


lying down, running hands across my skin

found a lump

under the soft flesh of lower abdomen

just above my thigh


convinced I had cancer


doctor said

uterine fibroids

essentially harmless, but

may affect fertility


if we wanted kids

go home and try

might need surgery

might not succeed at all


we went home

decided now or never

had sex

got pregnant


all through the nine months

I was convinced

something was wrong

maybe the baby had died

without me noticing


or I would die

in labor

blood pouring out

over white sheets


in month eight

we learned

something was wrong


she was breech

turned upside down

(actually, right side up)

the wrong position

for delivery


we could try to turn her

but might end up

with the cord wrapped

around her neck

or other complications


scheduled the caesarean instead


on the day, they bent me over

needle in my spine

then strapped me down

in t-shape, as if lying on a cross

draped a blue sheet

so we couldn’t see the blades

cutting me open

the organs being pulled out


the fibroids got in the way

her head wouldn’t fit

they had to widen the incisions

pull her out

rush her, blue, to oxygen


put the organs back in

sew me up



in shock

it wasn’t the birth

I wanted

it was probably easier

than the birth

I wanted


I wanted to labor

to try to push something large

through a tiny muscled space

framed by bones

that can only spread

so far


wanted to sweat and scream and push

to find my body’s limits

join millions of other women

through the ages

who carried children in their bodies

then sweated and screamed to bring them out

into the world


afterwards they brought her to me

her apgar scores climbed up

from three to nine

pale blue eyes darkening

open mouth, asking

a sweet, bewildering confusion



healthy mama

healthy baby

all that really matters

I know

and I am so grateful


but still

it wasn’t the birth I wanted