At 69, Still the Birthing Dream

by Mary Ann Wehler, Troy

I live in Detroit or Warren, I’m in a car, an apartment, a flat, I’m alone or with someone — but — always struggling to figure out what I need to get the job done. Sometimes the details vary. The sheets are dirty or old or lost. I can’t find scissors so get a steak knife. The string mislaid, I consider yarn, rubber bands, dental floss, picture wire. My water breaks, or doesn’t break, I’m quiet, I scream. It rains; the sun shines. Sitting on the side of the bed, I cut towels and sheets, tear them into strips till there’s a stack. I wish they were older. Climbing the stairs, contractions are closer, I sit on a step to rest twice. My mind spins with what I might need. I concentrate on where my sharp scissors are. Where I might find strong twine. I know I need a baby blanket and water. What do they do with water? About the same time, I feel a warm rush and realize my water has broken. I head for the linen closet. There are no clean sheets. I pull out towels, lug them to my bedroom. I stumble back down the basement stairs, stop halfway for a contraction, wonder what time it is. I fill the sink with hot water, blue Dawn, and dirty dishes and stand scrubbing the morning residue from plates. Occasionally, I stop to rub my back and remember my first childbirth started with a backache. The babies are asleep. My husband is at work. I have no car. I am nine months pregnant. I struggle up the stairs from the basement, hear clothes swish round in the dryer, watch the rain out the kitchen window. I live in Warren or Detroit, I’m in a car, an apartment, a flat, I’m alone or with someone. The sheets are dirty or old or lost. I can’t find the scissors.


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