By Dr. Tony Kovatch (Arcadia):
“Isn’t life strange
A turn of the page
Can read like before
Can we ask for more?
Each day passes by
How hard man will try
The sea will not wait
You know it makes me want to cry, cry, cry”
— “Isn’t Life Strange” by the Moody Blues.
As strange and inscrutable as is life and love, some memories stay with us forever because they embrace a certain magic outside of the realm of science and reality. For example, a ghost from what seems like a past life is sitting in a hospital bed with an infant in her arms when you enter the room in the newborn nursery; she has just delivered her FIFTH baby. Your immediate memory of the patient from thirty years previously is shared only by you because the child at that time was on death’s doorstep and was not aware of the gravity of the situation. But, obviously, the patient did not die and has come back to you. You personally did little to save her life but to send her immediately to the hospital and make phone calls to the family during her recovery. The mother of the patient was stoic and dignified and unflappable during the crisis, and I intuitively believe that Leah has inherited the same traits. But before I examine the large vigorous baby boy, there is much to catch up on…
For me, the beginning was the birth of my daughter, Rhyse. Running fairly close to the way expectancy and delivery played out in my unseasoned mind, Rhyse’s arrival was a much anticipated start to motherhood. As mothers, we are automatically entered into a vast and sometimes hazy cycle where beginnings and ends are hard to distinguish. The beginning and end and beginning to mid-night feedings, the beginning and end and beginning to a stomach bug passed fluidly from family member to family member. The circling readying in bus stop preparation. Boots on one child, on … and off the other and so on.
My second pregnancy began quickly, with intent, but with much less effort than I had imagined it could. Rhyse was just a year old and I was still soaking in all the beautiful and not so beautiful newness of her. Even so, in this fresh and alluring beginning, my mind was confidently set on the end – a large healthy family to keep me company and perhaps, if I dug deeper, to at long last confirm my personal strengths and purpose. I am MOM.
Sometimes, the irony of events transcends all logic. Is it not in tragedy that we discover ourselves, especially the sublimity within? In heartbreak we not only witness our deepest humanity but receive a brief glimpse of what must be the spiritual. In the birth of a child we become a mom or dad. In accepting and embracing the death of a fetus or a stillborn, we become as close to a divine parent — the essence of unconditional love — as can ever be attained. In essence we become immortal.
I had been induced with Rhyse after weeks of stubborn post-due date waiting, so when the hinting pangs of labor swelled at 35 weeks of baby number two, having just sent my husband off on a plane to North Carolina, I was skeptical. By late evening, growing in irritation and discomfort, I had clumsily and desperately put my daughter down to sleep, I had showered, I had rocked in fetal position on my bed, and, finally, knowing what I knew about this second child, I had called my mother for support.
A blurry toddler handoff to my brother, a silent ride to the hospital, then Mom and I soberly made our way through the halls of West Penn and to the maternity wing. Where, after signing myself in, I began the disappointing process of explaining to the nurse through labor pains that this baby – would not live…