A doctor describes a suicide attempt during childbirth

It’s every mother’s worst nightmare. You send off your daughter with a party, a dream, an alibi, a last ever kiss, a final glance. And a hug. And a prayer. And a kiss. And a twirl in the sprinklers. And a goodbye. And off you go, on your way to a place called the lake.

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning from a 20 hour coma, in the severe extreme pain of the colic virus. Day went by, night went by and everything felt completely normal. I pushed back the swollen cotton balls that grew in my mouth every day and off to the “travel van” I went, plopped in the next sleeping spot. For a few days I tried everything to resolve the severe convulsions. I tried a laxative, a saltwater shot, tossing and turning for a week, rushing for my baby’s fever. Finally I got to the house next door to Taddle Creek, where it pours from the beautiful deep holes and distant mountains, instead of out at the edge of the stream where it drenches the ranch house. We went out to the big farm next door, where my good friend Richard and his wife Lesley are preparing for their new baby.

After dinner and a couple of beers, around midnight, I took a sip of my whiskey, and could feel my wife’s sweating behind me, her shivering (we had just raised our daughter), her toes curled into a shivering extension of her feet. My gut pulled in different directions, my skin grew into paler circles, and the sight of the house next door made me cringe.

My friend Rob, also a medical doctor, got in the car and drove me to a nearby office to “check in.” His intentions were good, and he just wanted to make sure I was ok, but his actions weren’t helpful. He decided I had a rash that had been there for a while and looked at me like a fool, muttering something I wasn’t able to understand and considering his meds over my feelings.

He directed me back to the farm, not offering to drive me back or seeing a private rescue vehicle on the way. He also failed to offer to check the baby for a fainting spell. I tried to calm the baby down with my full mouth but she wouldn’t stop. Rob said, “She could just be fussy,” I laughed and yelled, “It isn’t fussy! She is fainting.” I just got started on him for his terrible decision, instead of taking some time to put on some gloves and carrying the baby over the cold water, and then scooping her up. I remember watching the road in my father’s car and thinking, “I will never have these boys. This is it.”

I woke up about 5:45 in the morning, with a simple brown pill wedged into the side of my throat, hoping it would alleviate the pain and choke. My leg was curled, which had never happened before, and I had some bruises from the shivering. Nothing major, but I had shivers and the mind was not in control. The drug was not working. I figured I would have to manage this rest of my life, forever uncomfortable with the slightest sniffle. My nana would never have to hear me tell my boys not to say the pet name “die.” I would not live with the need to have this baby monitor that goes to multiple records when my nose starts to jerk. Things we never dreamed of becoming a part of our life.

What to say to the ones who lost their mothers? That they are not alone? How much can you say? How much can you do? You are probably missing your own mothers now. You don’t have words. You can’t lie and say they are with you or in this room. You are the ones who grieve. Your babies don’t know that they are missing their mommy. They don’t know who their real mother is. They don’t know who their real mommy is and what this is like.

I have two precious baby boys, and this story was about them. This has been the last story I wrote. Now it will never end.


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