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by Beth Hanson, MS2

Because when I saw your arm I did not realize it was an arm.

Because your delicate hand was curled into a fist smaller than the nail on my pinky finger.

Because you had fingernails, and they were smooth and shiny and sharper than my own.

Because your arm, your hand, and your fingernails had formed so beautifully, yet never would they grow with time.

Because your mother was so calm, because the only sound in the room was the electric buzzing of the fluorescent lights because the pulsating beep of the fetal heart monitor was silenced when it discovered there were no electrical impulses to record because when your time stopped, all time stopped, and we were left with nothing to do but be.

Because I imagined you clawing your way out from inside, slipping on the soft cervical tissue, straining against the purple umbilical cord, the life support that was holding you back.

Because I pictured the final, tremendous effort that drained your strength as you forced one tiny arm through your mother’s opening, reaching for a world you would never grasp.

Because when they removed you, your glistening brown skin was moist and warm, your eyes were closed and your throat was silent, filled with every word you would never have the chance to say.

Because neither the gentleness with which your mother cradled you in her palm nor the closeness to which she held you to her chest could stop you from becoming cold.

Because after she came to love you but before she came to know you, we found that you were already in a better place.