“Take it easy, Delia. How are you doing?”
“I don’t know. I have pain in my stomach, and I feel so weak. What’s wrong?”
“You’re apparently suffering what we call abruptio placentae. It’s very rare.”
“What is it?”
“It’s when the placenta comes away from the wall of the uterus. A pool of blood forms and clots in the space between the placenta and the uterus. Unfortunately, your baby can’t get what it needs from you and is in some stress. I’ve kept you from going into shock, but I am afraid of renal failure.”
“What does this mean?” I was so weak from the pain that I could barely phrase the words.
“It means I think we should do what we call a crash C-section. Your baby will be premature, but I believe he’s developed enough to survive with prenatal care. We’re moving you immediately to the operating room. It will be all right,” he said, taking my hand. “I promise.”
I didn’t know if I was crying tears or not. I didn’t think I had the strength even for that. The abdominal pain began to get worse and worse. I cried out, and he nodded at Mrs. Newell and a male nurse. I felt myself being rolled out of the room. Dr. Denardo walked beside me, and Señor Bovio, who had yet to speak, was somewhere behind us.
It was difficult enough to be put into such a situation with your family at your side, your loved ones praying for you and encouraging you, but I was being rolled along into the unknown alone. I could call to the spirits of my mother and my father and my grandmother, but no one was there to hold my hand. Mrs. Newell marched along beside the gurney like some Roman centurion, never looking down at me, her back perfectly straight, her shoulders back, her neck stiff.
Like the gates of heaven, the operating-room doors seemingly opened by themselves, and I was passed through. Señor Bovio was stopped outside, but Dr. Denardo turned to him and smiled before the doors closed. In very quick, smooth motions, I was transferred to the operating table, and the anesthesiologist went into action. I vaguely heard Dr. Denardo tell me he would rather give me general anesthesia than an epidural. I was too frightened and confused to hear his reasons. After that, I heard or saw nothing again until I woke up in the recovery room.
A pleasant-looking young nurse smiled at me. “How you doing, honey?” she asked.
“I’m cold,” I said, and she added a blanket.
“It’s not unusual. You’ll be warm soon.”
“What happened?” I asked as the events began to return to my memory. “My baby!”
“It all went very well. Your baby was taken immediately to the NICU.”
“What is that?”
“It’s our neonatal intensive-care unit. It’s where we place premature babies.”
She checked the IV fluid.
“What is going into me?”
“You need antibiotics to prevent infections. We’re going to see if we can get you up in a while. Oh,” she said, smiling at someone to my right. “Here’s your doctor.”
“Hello there,” Dr. Denardo said, taking my hand. He wasn’t smiling.
“We’re watching him carefully, Delia. His lungs aren’t quite as developed as I would have liked them to be, but we’re optimistic.”
“Why did this happen?” I asked, and started to cry.
He didn’t answer for a moment. Then he glanced at the nurse, who walked away.
“When you visited your friend, Delia, did you take any drugs, what you kids call recreational drugs these days?”
“No, señor. Never.”
“You didn’t bring anything back with you and take some occasionally, maybe because you were so bored and confined at the estate?”
“Well, taking recreational drugs is one of the causes of abruptio placentae. Smoking is another, and I know you didn’t smoke.”