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Fill in the Blank

By Heidi Czerwiec

Because of the volatile emotions at play during the actual birth—the time when a birth mother is most likely to change her mind about adoption—our social worker emphasized the importance of a detailed hospital plan.

     Whom did the birth mother want present in the birthing room? Anyone from her family? The adoptive parents—neither, both of us, or just me? Did she want to have access to the baby after the birth, to see and hold and cuddle him, in the days before we took him home? Did she want us to? Did she want to breastfeed him? So many scenarios we had only vaguely imagined, but now had to picture in vivid, physical detail.

     But it was good, as we all sat in the small office around Kinzey’s six-month mark, tissues and text between us, discussing it, filling out the form together. Kinzey wanted her friend Monica—a cross between a sister and mother to her—as her birth coach. No one from her estranged family. We could both be in the birthing room, at least until the pushing in earnest began—then she wanted Evan to leave. No feeding—we needed to learn to do it, and she couldn’t bear to. But both she and we would have access to the baby when we wanted to see him, with her requests receiving precedence. The social worker would stop by the hospital after the birth to finalize the paperwork. We all signed our agreement to this plan, a copy of which would be filed with the Bismarck hospital, so everyone was clear.


About the Author

Heidi Czerwiec is a poet and essayist and serves as Poetry Editor at North Dakota Quarterly. She is the author of two recent chapbooks—A Is For A-ké, The Chinese Monster, and Sweet/Crude: A Bakken Boom Cycle—and the editor of North Dakota Is Everywhere: An Anthology of Contemporary North Dakota Poets. She lives in Minneapolis, where she teaches with The Loft Literary Center and the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, and works with Motionpoems. Visit her at