I screamed during Lauren’s delivery. Not just cried out, not just yelled. Screamed.

I know this not because Geordie tells me that’s what I did, although he does tell me. I remember.  I surprised myself at how much I was screaming. The next day, I thought it funny that my throat didn’t hurt from all the screaming I did.  I screamed so much that the midwife told me to try pushing without screaming. That didn’t work so well. They let me scream. And I screamed. I put all I had into it. I screamed to wake the dead.

Because that’s what I was trying to do. I wasn’t screaming about the pain – though it did hurt, I won’t lie. I remember that pain, the contractions ripping through me and feeling like they might rip me apart at any moment. But the physical pain did not matter as much as the fact that I was delivering my dead daughter. I screamed my grief for her because I could not take the time to stop and sob.

Even as I was screaming, I knew how loud I was, and I wondered if other patients heard me. I wanted them to hear me. I wanted them to hear and think, “what is happening to that woman?” I wanted to tell them that I was shrieking not just from pain but from rage and guilt and anguish that cannot be sated. I wanted them to know that this was the sound of a woman birthing a child who would never draw breath, who would never cry her own rage at being born. I wanted them to know, because I also wanted them to never need to scream that way. I hoped that any woman hearing me would never scream her grief as I was doing. I screamed my grief for Lauren because I wanted to be heard.

And there was the physical pain too. About seven months into the pregnancy, I started to get scared about the labor pain. At that time, we learned that I would not have the option of pain relief at any time during the delivery. I had planned to leave open the option of getting an epidural, but of all the hospitals we contacted in the Susono area, only one offered epidurals, and they were booked full for October. So, I gave birth to Lauren and felt every torturous moment of it.

Will I opt for pain relief a second time around? I don’t know. I know that I survived it once and that it will never be as bad as that again. I know that I felt Lauren moving through me and pushing through me, and I knew the moment that she was free of me, an entity not just of myself but of her own self. She lived and breathed in me, but she was still an individual person. She was still Lauren. I screamed her free of me because I could not carry her with me forever.

I also know that if I opt for a pain-free delivery a second time around, I will not feel that sensation of a child breaking free. I will not feel him move through me as he readies to enter the world. I will not feel the moment my child becomes her own person with an identity all her own. I don’t want to give that up. I will need the pain, that bloody reminder that life is a hard-fought thing, a battle begun at birth, on-going until death. As my second child fights for his first breaths, I want to be there fighting too, feeling everything as he feels it. And I will scream, as I screamed for Lauren. But this time, I will scream to wake the living. I will scream to be heard, to let it be known that I feel both joy and grief at the same time. I will scream to remember Lauren and the gift she gave me: the appreciation of life, however brief it may be.

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