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Betts’ book is available for purchase at Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/MovieMemoirScreenplayNovel

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Behind the Scenes – Good Job, Baby Girl

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Author: Figuring out how to add movie scenes to a memoir was challenging. My first attempts were rough and confusing. One woman in my critique group unabashedly told me exactly how much she didn’t “get it.” She made my writing better. I kept furiously working until even she agreed it made sense. This was the scene in the book where I finally won her over. It was a painful memory to write about, but using the movie scene to distance myself really helped tell the story.

 

My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, by Betts Keating
Chapter Sixteen – Good Job, Baby Girl

…I remember standing next to my husband in a brightly lit, white hallway while holding my seven-day-old daughter in my arms. I remember looking down at her and thinking to myself, No way. There is no way I’m handing this child over to those people. No way, no way, no way, no way….

Back to the movie.

OPEN: INTERIOR/BOSTON HOSPITAL/HALLWAY

CAMERA HOLDS on MOMMY and DADDY standing in front of sign that says “Pediatric Surgery.”

MOMMY holding BABY. DADDY stands with arms around MOMMY.
Two young DOCTORS stand nearby waiting to take BABY to surgery.

MOMMY (crying)
I don’t think I can do this.

DADDY (with emotion)
Me either.

MOMMY and DADDY cry over and hug BABY murmuring “We love yous” and other reassurances.

DOCTORS motion that it’s time to let them take the BABY.

MOMMY won’t let go. She clings to the baby, wetting the baby’s face with her tears.

DADDY makes small motion towards helping MOMMY hand over BABY.

MOMMY (whispers)
Not yet… not yet…

CAMERA HOLDS on MOMMY – hugs baby close almost “blocking” the doctors from taking her.

MOMMY (blubbering)
OK, baby girl… this is it. All you have to do is take a nice long nap while the
doctors do all the work. OK?

MOMMY makes small motion toward letting go.

In one swift move the DOCTORS seize their moment, swoop in, grab BABY, and walk quickly down hall toward the double doors of surgical wing.

CUT TO: MOMMY and DADDY – left standing in hallway with empty hands and obviously deflated spirits.

CAMERA pulls back from couple and continues down hallway away from MOMMY and DADDY (from POV of BABY as if BABY was looking back at her parents and seeing them fade away).

Emphasize smallness of two parents standing lonely in a large, colorless hallway.

VOICE-OVER/MOMMY (whisper)
Ouch.

FADE TO BLACK

 

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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Motherhood On Balance Summit with Mara Watts

Motherhood on Balance Summit online video series.
Go to  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6-N1iyjL30&feature=youtu.be  to see my video.

Thanks, Mara! It was a delight to speak with you.

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To find out more about Mara, Megan and their Motherhood on Purpose group, check out Motherhood On Purpose.

©2017 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.
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Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

Also check out this anthology written by moms, for moms, about the ups and downs of being a mom! Also available at amazon.com. My featured essay is titled We Are Mothers.

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The Gift I Didn’t Expect to Give Or Receive

“Just parked in the garage, heading to lobby now,” I typed on my phone before I hit send.

“Do you know where the heart ward is?” came the reply.

“I think I can find it… 😉,” I sent back.

That may have been the biggest understatement I have ever typed. Asking me if I know where the heart ward is located is like asking me if I know how to breathe. I had been there so many times I could probably make it there blindfolded. Yes, I know where the heart ward is. I know it all too well. Just acknowledging that fact reminded me of my tender emotional “state.” Part of me couldn’t believe I was choosing to make this visit.

The mere act of driving into the parking garage had already seemed strange. For the first time in a long time, I was arriving at this hospital alone. Normally, I have my daughter with me. She’s the reason I come here, the reason I already know that the babies with special hearts all hang out on the heart floor. I had already glanced over to the passenger seat multiple times, only to find it empty. The emptiness of that seat felt unsettling, but was actually a good thing. Not to mention how amazing it is that my daughter has grown enough to sit up front – her age part of a miracle I find difficult to articulate. I couldn’t quite wrap my head, nor my emotions, around the fact that she was at school, where she should be, and not here with me at the hospital. Although it might sound strange, I was actually relieved she wasn’t with me. For once, I was not at the hospital for yet another procedure to maintain my daughter’s health. This time I came because I had another motive. Today, I came to meet Noah (see photo below).

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Amazingly enough, Noah is the first baby I have met, in person, who has exactly the same kind of congenital heart defect as my daughter. That’s because they both have an unusually rare form of CHD. It’s called Truncus Arteriosus. Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful. It’s equally hard to say as it is to understand, even for those of us who deal with it. As my daughter often says, “Will I ever meet someone just like me?” Chances are not often. Chances are, almost never. That’s what made today so special. And that’s why, against all odds, I was going back to the heart ward, voluntarily.

As I entered the garage elevator, I paused to take a breath. It never ceases to surprise me how much a trip to the hospital affects me. Just when I think I have it all together, I quickly find that I don’t. I have to “adjust” every single time I walk into this building. I have to remind myself again that I can get through this. I can stop my heart from racing, dry my sweaty palms, and focus my eyes enough to see clearly which number I need to press to make the elevator start moving. I can, I just don’t always want to. Today I needed to, because today was about Noah and not about me.

By the time I had navigated through the maze of hallways and ridden a second elevator to the correct floor of the hospital, I had gathered myself enough to walk down the hall toward the heart ward. Or at least I thought I had. That all changed the moment I pushed the buzzer for admittance and waited while I watched the painstakingly slow, double doors open. Each excruciating second that passed felt like an hour. Perhaps that was a good thing. It gave me yet another attempt at composure, a moment to think.

Five years ago was the last time I walked down these halls. Like I said before, my daughter and I had come back to this hospital for multiple procedures, but the only reason we would ever come to this particular floor was after something big that required a long stay. I was so grateful to realize it had been five years since my daughter had endured anything that involved. I rested inside another huge sigh of relief… and then continued to wait for the doors to finally grant me admittance.

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When the heart ward finally came into full view, I was struck by the fact that while everything before me had subtly changed it had, at the same time, stayed exactly the same. The doorknobs were the same. The handrail was still in the same place. The windows still looked out at the same vista. The floor had the same tile. Everything looked just like I had left it five years ago except for the walls. They had that fresh, newly painted look to them. Unfortunately, the fresh paint couldn’t cover up the smell. The smell that will always be indefinably the same. It’s the smell of longevity and endurance and it is unique to those floors in a hospital that hold on to their patients. After my daughter’s first heart surgery she was in a ward like this for 8 weeks. Some get released after only five days. Some stay even longer.

The nurses at the station in the middle of the floor had different faces, but thankfully still wore familiar scrubs. In a way, it was comforting the scrubs at least had stayed the same. It brought recognition to strangers.

“Can I help you?” one of the nurses asked.

“Room 421?” I answered, pretending that I didn’t know which way to go. Rather than stumble my way through a monologue of reasons why I already knew where the room was located, I decided to play dumb.

“That way,” she answered and pointed down the hall.

I walked in the direction she had pointed, but I struggled to make my feet move. I was stuck in an internal, emotional debate over where I was and where I should be. I wanted to be comfortable being in this hallway, but I wasn’t. I wanted to keep my former experience separate from this moment, but I couldn’t. I wanted to put it all behind me so I could be supportive for someone else, but it was difficult. More difficult than I expected. Unfortunately, it was too late to change my mind. Even my slowly moving legs had propelled me forward enough to make it to the correct door. It was time.

As I walked into the room, the memories crashed over me in a flood of flashbacks. I was transported back to a time that seemed like only yesterday. I remembered everything. I had been here before. I had been in a room just like this before. This room designed to fit a crib, a couch that folds into what some would like to call a bed, a reclining chair, a sink, a small closet, and more medical equipment than should be allowed in the same room with a patient so tiny. It was all out of balance and it temporarily threw me off my purpose.

Then, I saw Noah.

And I remembered why I was there.

It was like the clouds parted and a ray of sun burst through. This was it. This was the moment. The moment that would make everything I had been through, everything my daughter has survived… worth it. This was my chance to move beyond the pain, and the fear, and the desperate sense of tragedy. I was here today to give hope to the people in this room, all the people in this room, including me.

After all, we have a lot to be hopeful about. We have babies who know how to go from this:

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To this:

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And even beyond to babies who are now old enough to sit in the front seat.

I found connection with three people who needed no introduction to our story, we already had an instant camaraderie. That camaraderie gave me a sense of clarity and strength. A sweet breath of restoration that I didn’t predict. An unexpected gift I could give and receive at the same time.

No matter what comes next, and there will be plenty of “nexts” to come for all of us, together we could know and understand that our heart warriors are strong in a way that is impossible to define. Together, we could hope in their future and in the success of their fight. Together we could trust that we can do this. It’s possible. Not easy, but possible.

I was able to say all of that just by saying, “Hi.”

It was an honor. A privilege.

I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

*Photos provided by Noah’s Mom.
©2017 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.
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Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

Click the FOLLOW button to follow this blog.

Motherhood on Balance Summit

So excited to announce that I will be part of the 8-Day Motherhood on Balance Summit with Mara Watts and these lovely ladies. My interview will be Wednesday, May 3rd at 9am. See more info below.

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I have joined Mara Watts in The 8-Day Motherhood on Balance Summit – a FREE 8-day summit filled with interviews, tips and advice on how mothers live a life on purpose while striving towards balance.  This summit was created to help mothers overcome the stress and anxieties with trying to live a balanced lifestyle.  The interviews are both enriching and raw with mothers and women opening up and sharing their stories.

Join us here ~ http://bit.ly/2naspmC