Tag Archives: Placenta

“Placenta” – Fiction by Ned Thimmayya

Newborn Baby on Hands - Otto Dix, 1927
Newborn Baby on Hands – Otto Dix, 1927

“Placenta” by Ned Thimmayya is a magnificently grisly story from our very bloody Summer 2015 issue, which is available here, here, here, or here.

{ X }

HANNAH SAT IN THE WAITING ROOM, spring green walls and stacks of magazines her only– very cold–company.

In her mind, she carried her stillborn nephew, eyes squeezed to cracks, hands tiny and untried, the umbilical cord vascular blue and looped three times around the child’s neck, tight as spool and thread.  They surgically removed the placenta minutes after they extracted the lifeless blunder-of-joy.

The procedure to remove the placenta was necessitated by a placenta percreta.  The placenta had embedded itself in the uterine wall and–by virtue of its dazzling, opportunistic veins–had penetrated to the bladder.  There the placenta’s long fingers threatened to violate the mother’s internal organs.  The doctor said he’d never seen such an invasive case.

{ X }

“Who didn’t cut the umbilical?” he yelled, arriving at the scene of the stillbirth and snapping everyone’s own private colloquy with the situation.  His words were a show; the child had died in the early stages of labor.

According to him, one such accident constituted heartache for all involved.  A series of stillbirths in his ward translated to lifelong professional consequences and personal guilt.  An entire year of frequent stillbirths, occurring beyond the hospital and even across international boundaries, formed the salient health question of his time.  Since it was this last and most prominent challenge that he faced, there was no shame in his individual ignorance.  His sense of helplessness in the path of death, however, could not be softened by the unanswered questions posed in peer-reviewed journals and obstetricians’ conferences.  Fatal compressions of the nuchal cord–an umbilical cord characterized by at least one full loop around the baby’s neck–had once been so rare.  Which drugs had come into fashion since the trend?  Were there alterations in birth practices that coincided with the upsurge of fatalities? Continue reading “Placenta” – Fiction by Ned Thimmayya