Skip to Content

The thin red line

I hear the little bundle of blankets stirring gently to my left. I hear my husband snoring softly to my right.

I try to get up to quiet the baby but I can’t.

There is pain–blinding, searing pain like lightning behind my eyes–when I try to move, and I am reminded, quite quickly, that I am still catheterized.

I look down and there is blood on my gown and sheets, bright and fresh.

Hot tears catch in my throat and burn there. They tingle my nose.

I am vaguely aware that it is morning.

The sun has risen with its vibrant, cheerful colors and new beginnings.

In this room, there is a new beginning. Pale morning light streams promises through the windows.

The nurse comes in to remove the catheter and help me to the shower. She sees the blood and quickly, ashamedly, changes the stained gown from the night before.

I have to get up, she says. Walking will help, she says. Moving will make things easier, she says.

I say to myself that I want to cry.

The idea of scalding water which she says I must not use because of my blood pressure sounds glorious. I want to wash the memories of the previous night from my brain. Scald the words from my ears and the fluorescent lights from my eyes. Rinse the anguish and failure from the previous night down to some dull gutter somewhere beneath the hospital. Beneath the world.

All of my dignity is gone, has been gone, so I strip down and she steadies me by holding my arm while I gingerly lift my legs over the side of the tub.

I’ll be just outside the door if you need my help, she says as she closes the door.

And that is when I see it.

That is when I see where they removed my son.

I examine it carefully, closely. The line they left behind looks angry. Furious. It mimics what my heart feels. And then I start to cry. Slowly, quietly, softly, the tears burning my throat.

I turn on the water and as it warms my skin, I feel nothing. I am empty. It is as if my feelings, my heart, my identity, were removed from that slice across my belly.

It is ugly. Crooked. Broken.

It makes me feel as though I am broken. Incomplete. And standing slightly off-kilter.

In this room, so close to the room with the new beginning, there is the death of a dream. The death of my dream.

There is a darkness creeping into my soul.

I bathe and vow not to look at it. Not to see it. To pretend that its rage and darkness do not exist.

But this pretending is futile. Every move reminds me that it is there, this thin wound that is not yet a scar. This wound that, in my mind, will never be a scar.

When I return to my room the sheets are fresh and crisp. They are almost cheery. There is a sleeping bundle waiting to be nursed and I realize it is my husband’s birthday.

This was written for The Red Dress Club’s RemembeRED memoir post.

This week’s prompt was to give a memory of the color red without using the word red in the post.

The redness of my c-section scar is a redness, an anger, I will never forget, even if the scar has now turned white. Talking about this is always difficult for me, so please, be gentle.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Plumbing problems

Tuesday 21st of June 2011

[...] I was in the hospital after having Joshua I was in pain. And then I had a meltdown over my “soft GI” diet of meatloaf. And the [...]

Elizabeth Flora Ross

Wednesday 27th of April 2011

I first read this last week but was unable to comment. Wanted to make sure I did. I delivered via c-section, and I will never forget first seeing that scar. I was horrified. I had never had staples before. It was the ugliest thing I have ever seen. To this day I hate to look at it.

I do not have the intensely negative feelings about the procedure that you do, but I certainly understand them. And you are far from alone. I know you hope for a VBAC when you have another child, and I hope you get the birth experience you deeply desire. We all deserve that.

For me, it was the only way. My daughter could have died without it. And so all I ever feel when I think about her birth is grateful that she was OK. As far as the thin red line is concerned, I wrote a post recently about my scar I thought you might find interesting. It was for TRDC:


Tuesday 26th of April 2011

I remember that feeling too... and the indignity of it all. And the daily question about whether I'd poo-ed yet. And sliding out of bed sideways. DD was taken out of me prematurely, but she was alive and healthy and that was worth it all.

A Mountain Momma

Thursday 21st of April 2011

Ugh, I remember that feeling. They had also given my staples instead of stitches so it was ultra horrifying. I had a franken-belly. My baby was breach, so I was just happy to have her out alive, but man, I can still feel it sometimes.


Thursday 21st of April 2011

They glued me back together. I had steri-strips over my incision for weeks.


Thursday 21st of April 2011

I'm so sorry for your experience Miranda. I can't fathom what a c-section would do to me.

I can't feel your pain for you, but my heart goes out to you and wishes it could feel it so you wouldn't have to.


Thursday 21st of April 2011

Aww, thanks. It hurts, but it's also empowering, you know? And I think talking about it and letting people know that this sucks for some women is important.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.