how i found you

How I Found: My Family
January 31, 2010, 9:37 pm
Filed under: my family

I have three tattoos, but I’m still afraid of needles. So I decided, early in my pregnancy, that I didn’t want an epidural. As you grew inside me, adding inches and pounds, pulling my belly into the shape of a melon, I started preparing myself for the pain. Your father and I went to childbirth classes. We watched a registered nurse simulate a contraction. We heard stories of hellish labors, unexpected prolapses, breach births. More than one mother touched my arm and said, “Epidural. I couldn’t have done it without one.”

But there were other, more immediate pains in our life. Your father and I weren’t getting along. We fought, knowing that your developing ears could pick up our sobbing shouts. We thought about separating. We tried hard to love and trust each other, in part because we both wanted you so much. While we waited for you to be born, we pounded our marriage flat on a hot anvil, folded it, and tried to make it smooth and trustworthy. We wanted to offer you something that wouldn’t fracture under pressure.

So after 27 hours of unmedicated labor, I pulled my knees up high and pushed you into your father’s hands. You were bigger than we’d expected, almost 11 pounds, and so tall that you couldn’t wear your newborn-sized clothes. Your father’s face dissolved into tears, and I felt, for the first time, a strong golden light, a cord tying the three of us together.

Baby, we gave you life. Your father and I made you together, and we labored together to bring you into a safe, loving world. When you came, the bad times stopped. Our labor, our mess of pain and blood and fear and fighting, was over. You made us a family, an unbreakable ring. It was magic, made from love, pure and simple. Thank you, for everything.

Claire Rudy Foster prefers the company of alcoholics, angels, students, and freaks. Recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her work has also been recognized by Best of the Web. She operates the weekly online publication WORK Literary Magazine, and is also pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing/Fiction at Pacific University. She lives next to a cemetery in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.


How I Found: My Family
March 14, 2009, 6:10 pm
Filed under: my family | Tags: , , , ,

This is the story about finding family; rather, family finding me.

Just two weeks before my wedding, I received a call from an unknown Florida phone number. I was in the middle of picking out a necklace for my ceremony, so I let the call go to voicemail. Once I left the shop, saying goodbye to my girlfriend who had just graciously gifted to me the perfect accessory for my wedding day, I sat in my car and called the number to listen to my voicemail. But before I go any further with this part of the story, I need to go back about 9 years, to the year my mother passed away.

I had been living in Japan with my first husband for 8 months when I received a call from my mom, whose voice was shaky and less energetic than it had been just days before. Without going into the heartbreaking details, I knew from the sound of her voice that something was wrong, very wrong. We talked to each other for a bit. She, avoiding my concerns, told me she was just having a bad day, that she was going back to her doctor the following day and, of course, for me not to worry. I caught her up on my life, and expressed my concern about being so far away from her before we ended our call. It only took me seconds after I hung up to realize that I ended the call without saying, “I love you,” so I called her back to tell her. That was the last conversation we had. Less than 24 hours later, I was on a plane flying back to Philadelphia to spend my last night with her. She was on life support, and it was my responsibility the next morning to approve the doctor’s recommendation for taking her off, and letting her go. Continue reading