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1 Erin Ashley Mink Garvey Prof.

Morano ENG 484: Non-Fiction Short Revision #3 (for Portfolio) 18 August 2011

Immersed It happened in my sleep. I dont remember feeling a thing. When I woke up, Richard thought I was groggier than usual. I never have been a morning person. What's going on, I tried to ask, but my mouth, lips, tongue, and voice couldn't process what my brain was commanding they do. That's when Richard knew. I didn't understand. I was fifty-five. I was a career woman, happily married, with three collegeeducated kids. These things didn't happen to people like me. My doctors told me that my heart, weakened by chemotherapy and radiation from a few years prior, threw a clot, which eventually got to the left side of my brain and deprived it of oxygen. It could have been a lot worse.

I knew the day would eventually come... eventually. I knew I would wake up from this dream that I've had for the past 286 days and resume life as normal, without wearing elastic everything and without this excess weight around my midsection. I just didnt think it would be so soon, even though it was supposed to be six days ago. As I sit in the warm water up to my hips, naked, my hands gripping my ankles, on this perfect May morning in Chicago, I look up and standing at the head of the tub is Julie, my midwife, who tells me that I'm so close, just a push away. Her loving demeanor makes me feel like I'm the only woman she's monitoring in the hospital right now, though I know that theyre swimming in babies in the

springtime. Her double-helix curls bounce with each of her encouraging utterances, punctuating her professionalism with cuteness. A team of three young nurses, with towels in gloved hands, surround us in this nondescript hospital room. Many of these RNs have never participated in a water birth before, so their curiosity is palpable. Connor, adjacent to the tubthere's not room for the two of us in here, and besides, the hospital won't allow itrubs my arm and upper back and tells me he loves meagainand that he is so proud of me and so very excited for us. We decided to forgo medical interventions because it was the safest option for the baby and me, and all night, he has reminded me that I can deliver drug-free, just like the millions of women who have before me, including my mother. I long for my mother to be here, but distanceand her disabilityprecludes it.

I have re-learned how to walk and have figured out how to make do with my practically-useless right side: with a hand thats constantly gripped shut and a leg thats damn near wooden. Though my power walking days are over, I can still go on a pretty good tear as I speedrace through stores on my red scooter. I'm the new face of defensive driving! In conversations, where I was once so chatty, I now sound like an immigrant, scouring my mind for the best word for each phrase. Sometimes, I get it right on my first attempt. This is my reality: my wooden, immigrant reality.

Julie and I make eye contact, and her eyes remind me that just one more push will do it. Bearing down, my hands death-gripping my ankles, an involuntary, Pentecostal, tongue-like noise emerges from the depths of my soul with this last heave. I will later learn that I burst a capillary in my

left eye, probably from this last push. It hurts, a lot, but the water gives me some buoyancy that I wouldn't have lying on my back in a bed, fighting gravity. Cries, grins, and tears begin to flood the hospital room. I'm close.

Some days are better than others. I'm happy that I don't have the debilitating side effects that other stroke survivors have, like an inability to control my bowels or an inability to swallow, but it's annoying as hell when I can't communicate what my brain is thinking. One can only play so many games of charades. It's especially tough when stop really means go.

The team of nurses and Julie scoop from the water what has been harboring inside my midsection, and Julie, with her hands around the baby's slippery body, holds it eye-to-eye with me. Incredibly alert, with big, blackish eyes, and completely calm, my baby and I meet at last. She, Alice Evelyn Mink Garvey, is prune wrinkly, and her long bodyall twenty and a half inches of it is covered in lanugo, a bunny-like fur that grows in utero. We stare, sizing each other up.

Mom? You're a grandma again, she called to tell me, through tear-choked hiccups. I could hear her smiling. Ohhh!, I squealed, my standard, post-stroke answer when I can't quickly think of what I really want to say. I ask, And it is a-?

Girl, Mom, it's a girl, she sniffles. Alice Evelyn Mink Garvey. To Alice, me, her G-Ma, will have always taken longer than G-Pa to talk, and she's always gotten around using her cane or scooter. Alice doesn't know what an immigrant is, but she'll remember that G-Ma has always had a certain pensiveness to her speech and a turtle-like stride. And when I will hold her for the first timeusing my left arm, of courseAlice really won't care about these things.

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