A young father I know recently described his wife’s incredibly long labor which ended in a caesarean as simply, The baby wouldn’t come. The baby did come, though. The father spoke to me with his tiny son cradled in one arm on his lap.

This time of year, approaching my oldest daughter’s birthday, I always remember the days leading up to her arrival encased in winter’s icy silence. There had been back and forth with a midwife whom we trusted and shouldn’t have, but at the heart of everything was the baby concealed in the warm, wet womb, nearly ready to enter this world. How much I wanted to see her, face-to-face.

That child is a young woman now, full of laughter and silliness — and struggles to determine who she is, where her life will lead. I always think back to the night of her life as a long rowing across stormy seas in a wooden craft, heaving on the waves’ tempest, fiercely determined to reach solid shore with my child.

Her hands are on the oars now, too.

I want death to find me planting my cabbages, not concerned about it or—still less—my unfinished garden.

— Nina Riggs, The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


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