Last night was the Full Moon in Capricorn. According to astrologist Lisa Dale Miller, this Full Moon exemplifies perseverance, as Saturn (ruler of Capricorn) is "the great teacher of how to handle hardship, struggle and reality, with commitment, follow-through and guts." No one could personify this spirit better than Maddy Oden.
Maddy Oden is the mother of Tatia Malika Oden French. In December 2001, Tatia entered a well-known and well-respected hospital to deliver her first child. She was 32 years old, in perfect health, and looking forward to a natural, unassisted childbirth. There were no problems during the pregnancy. According to her doctor's calculations, she was a little under 2 weeks overdue. She was given the drug Cytotec to induce her labor. Cytotec, also known as Misoprostol, is a drug manufactured to treat ulcers. It is NOT approved by the FDA, or the drug company, to induce labor. Ten hours after being administered Cytotec, Tatia suffered hyper-stimulation of her uterus, an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) was released, and an emergency C-Section was performed because the baby was also in distress. Both Tatia and her baby, Zorah Allie Mae French, died in the operating room.
Maddy channeled her unbelievable grief into years of hard work, and in 2003, The Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation, a non-profit corporation, was formed to give women of childbearing age complete information concerning medical interventions and drugs which are administered during childbirth.
I spoke with Maddy for almost an hour last week. It was not the first time, as we have served on a committee together to further efforts for informed consent in maternity care; but it was the first time we had spoken about Tatia. I felt the love in her voice, the pain in her silences. I asked if there were any elements she'd like included in a square to honor her daughter (hers will be one of twenty in a special quilt for mothers who've died from amniotic fluid embolism). Maddy simply requested African-inspired fabrics, and that baby Zorah be recognized as well. So last night, with a full moon at my back and an altar to the divine feminine gently lighting my workspace, I laid out my fabrics and allowed them to take shape.This photograph is the only one I could find of Tatia pregnant with Zorah. Her quiet, graceful contemplation of their shared future is so beautiful, it needed to be captured. There are only a few African inspired prints in my collection, and I let them guide me. The yellowish background was leftover from the African batik project we did at Big B's preschool. I also had one piece of white gauze left from the prayer flag project, which I used to mimic the dress Tatia is wearing in the photo. I used only fusible webbing to piece this square; not a stitch was sewn. I like the raw edges. They speak to the unfinished business that Tatia and Zorah left behind, which is now Maddy's life's work.
I have also chosen and begun piecing the fabrics for the back of the Safe Motherhood Quilt panel that I will be quilting. I am so pleased with this palette and am honored to take this on. There are still several names on the AFE quilt, as well as the Safe Motherhood Quilt, that need to be honored. If you would like to create a special square for a mother who has died of pregnancy or childbirth related causes in America, please contact me or post a comment here.