The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Salt Point

I watched a beautiful sunset jiggle and dip through the redwood trees that lined a winding two-lane road out the small back windows of an ambulance.

I was strapped down and every few miles the driver would pull over and he and my attending EMT would switch roles, take my vitals. Finally, I asked, “Is there some regulation that you have to switch drivers after so many miles?”

The older of the two, the one who looked like he was maybe 23, seemed embarrassed. “No, it’s just, we both get car sick.” This cracked me up.

I focused on the sunset. I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t in pain. I was uncomfortable and sad. My husband was following the ambulance with our two young boys. We had planned this camping trip on the last day of school and they were so excited. My achy back I attributed to the packing and the drive. I had taken the boys for a walk while my husband set up the tent and started a fire for dinner. I lay down in the tent for a while and when our four- year old came in for a shoe tie, I sat up and pop!

A warm water balloon leaked into my lap and I just knew. I felt responsible for holding this crew together while I told my husband that we were not having this baby and telling our boys that they were not going to sleep in tents outdoors with s’mores, but that we were now going to pack the truck after forty-five minutes of camping and drive for a few hours.

We drove to the ranger kiosk and my husband said to the female ranger, “We need a doctor. M y wife’s not feeling well.” Just as she was asking what was wrong, I pushed my husband back and leaned forward meeting her eyes.

“I’m having a miscarriage.”

She told us to pull over. The ranger had two teenage sons who took my boys for some marshmallow and fire fun as the local EMTs arrived.

The Salt Point EMT crew included a young outdoorsy woman in her mid thirties and her partner, who was scrappy with a white beard and a clone of the Burt’s Bees dude in that little postage-size ad in the “New Yorker.” He is very gentle and kind and as he took my pulse, told me about his wife’s miscarriage years ago and how it was sad but that they went on to have several children. There had been some talk about Medevacing me out, but I nixed the helicopter idea. As Burt and the young EMTs loaded me into the ambulance, I worried that I might be too heavy.

After two and a half hours of a winding road in an ambulance, I welcomed the cool night air as I was unloaded. When I saw the entrance to the Emergency Room of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, I was immediately panicked about what we would do with our boys. My husband found me just as I was being wheeled inside. He had already called our friend, Saskia, and she was on her way from Mill Valley to rouse our sleeping boys and take them home. They would wake up in their own beds and tomorrow this would all be over.

Inside the ER, I was transferred from the downy comfort of an ambulance gurney to a steel table with a disposable paper mattress and met the least charming nurse in North America.

The queasy ambulance boys said goodbye and wished me well. It was almost midnight on a Friday and the room was chaos. A curtain was drawn around my table. To my right I heard the wheezing of an old man and his wife crying. He was dying. Through the gaps in the curtain I could see a young woman across from me who was writhing, screaming, gagging, and had my vote for the best string of expletives growled in a single breath. She was having a really bad night.

I later learned from a nicer nurse that she was ODing on ecstasy.

Somewhere there was a burst of yelling in Spanish and two Hispanic men were being tackled and pulled off each other. They had been brought in with knife wounds and were still going at it with their fists. Their loss of blood and the alcohol content of what remained were throwing off their aim and they were losing steam.

So was I.

My drama was not even a blip on the radar in this circus. I was happy to be low priority. All around me was death and agony. I kept my jiggly sunset in my mind as the nurse came by to bully me and I cried as the final bits of our former baby made its exit. I was sad and tired and lucky to only have those complaints. I kept bleeding though and that got their attention. Bully nurse took one more swipe at me when she asked my blood type and I couldn’t remember.

Hers was no match for Ms. Ecstasy’s mouth. I was eased into a wheelchair and taken upstairs to a dark and very quiet sonogram room. I bled on everything and nobody seemed to notice. I kept apologizing. The sonogram revealed a quarter-sized bit of placenta attached to the very top of my empty uterus and that was what was causing the blood loss.

I was prepped for a D & C. It was two a.m. and I was wrung-out and had to be helped to take out my earrings and remove my watch and wedding band. Then I remembered the navel ring. We couldn’t get it open and the anesthesiologist and surgeon found that amusing so they let it slide. I asked the surgeon if I could have a pair of scrubs to wear home, since my clothes were trashed, and then I told the anesthesiologist I didn’t want to remember anything. They both smiled and assured me not to worry. I woke up coughing and a nurse reading a magazine next to my bed gave me ginger ale and wheeled me to a recovery room where I tried to sleep, but heard babies crying, and realized I was in the maternity ward.

We have a third child now, and the five of us drive through Salt Point every year when we vacation at Sea Ranch and I get a shade less sad each time. I don’t tear up immediately, like the first few times we drove through. I just get quiet. I don’t feel like we lost an actual baby, or a person, but rather a hope was lost or a promise was broken.

Less a death than a wish that didn’t come true.

By Mary Allison Tierney


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That was a beautiful and touching story. Thank you for sharing.
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