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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: Empty Arms
By Miriam Basye-Carter


October 23rd, 20 had dawned crisp and clean as the dawn of creation. A day full of promise. This should have been the happiest day of my life; the beginning of my new role as a mommy. I had risen before dawn when I felt the first unfamiliar twinge of labor.

Was it another Braxton Hicks, or was this the real thing? Not wanting to wake my husband at 4 a.m. I threw on my robe and padded to the kitchen. Trying to quell the shiver of excitement that ran through me I deliberately prepared a cup of raspberry leaf tea. My due date was still three weeks away but early deliveries were not uncommon in my family. My sisters and I were all born early. One of my sisters was at least a month early and, though only four pounds at birth, she now was a towering 6 feet tall.

Sitting in the comfort of my rocking chair I watched the sun come up and smiled with excitement that I would soon see my sweet baby’s face and hold her in my arms for the first time. In the happy warmth of that moment I could never have guessed that only 8 hours later I would hear the doctor saying, “We’ve lost the heartbeat, I’m sorry, your baby is gone.”

“What are you talking about!” I croaked, my throat parched from hours of labor, “We just heard it’s heart beat last night! Check again!”

My husband held my hand as the nurse applied the jelly to my swollen abdomen and the doctor ran the cold Doppler back and forth.

“There! I hear a heart beat!” my husband crowed and I sighed in relief but the doctor insisted that it was my own heart beat that we heard and not that of our precious child. However, my body seemed to be on auto pilot, still working to give birth so I clung to hope as I panted and pushed trusting that my body must know better than the doctor or labor would have ceased, wouldn’t it?

Fifteen minutes later I gave birth to our little son, Zebulon. I could deny it no longer, my dreams of motherhood were slain. Zebulon never drew a breath. The agony of that realization was much worse than the pains of labor that I had endured for nothing! With primitive groans my grief overwhelmed me as I rocked little Zeb in my arms.

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Member Comments
Member Date
PamFord Davis 04/23/09
I can not comment on your article. I can only express my sympathy.
Pam Ford Davis
Patricia Herchenroether04/23/09
Truly heartbreaking. No mother could read your entry without pain. I'm so sorry; thanks for sharing.
Miriam Basye-Carter04/23/09
My apologies, I didn't intend to mislead you...I wrote this a fictional article, based on my experiences as an assistant to a midwife and alot of research on the emotional effects of stillbirth on the mothers. I hope to develope it further than this into a short story with a much more hopeful ending.--Miriam
Seema Bagai 04/23/09
Hi! Just a quick note. Authors are not supposed to comment on their pieces until results are announced (to preserve the anonymity of the challenge).
Loren T. Lowery04/27/09
Fitting title that lead the reader into an honest look at loss of something greatly hoped for. I especially like your closing paragraph, it sums up the anguish of emotions very well.
stephanie erickson04/29/09
Good writing- very "realistic" : )
Lisa Johnson07/08/09
I, too, thought you were being autobiographical... that being said, I agree with the comment that good writing feels "real". As a nurse, and as a mother, and as a grandmother, I understand the emotions of losing a child during childbirth. It is a pain like no other, and you captured it very well.

Thank you by the way for your kind words about my song.