There have been moments from chapters in the story of my life that seem to be seared into my memory like a photo taken by a Polaroid camera whose bright flash created a momentarily blindness, the flash somehow unexpected even though I knew it was coming. Some of those moments were times of ecstatic joy and anticipation, the rapid beating of my pulse, the warmth of tears running down my cheek, my heart feeling like it would burst because it was so full of love and happiness.
But other moments would be better described as heart wrenching. Opening my eyes in the morning and wanting nothing more than to close them again against the day, hoping that the worry sitting like a rock in the pit of my stomach would dissolve, desperately wanting it all to be no more than the fragments of a bad dream.
It’s so important to tell our stories. And to hear each other’s stories. To know that there is always more than one story, even if the people and events in the story are the same.
I think back to one especially difficult day. I sat nervously in the waiting room of the ultrasound office, trying to avoid eye contact with the other people in the room who were nonchalantly flipping through dog eared magazines and ambivalent to the feeling of impending bad news that was weighing heavily on my heart. I imagined their stories, their dreams for a growing family, the excitement running through the room like a silent undercurrent of electricity.
I didn’t belong there with them, sadness like a tidal wave pulling me under, sucking the oxygen from the room, at risk of stealing their happiness if they knew my story, why I was there. I pushed down the part of me that wanted to stand on my chair and yell into the precarious tranquility to tell, to warn them against believing and dreaming of a future - shaking them by the shoulders into reality, don’t you know?! The future doesn’t work out the way you’ve always believed it would, the way you’ve been told it would.
I swiped furiously at that one tear that insisted on escaping down my cheek. I heard them call my name and with a deep shuddering breath I prepared myself to hear aloud the yet unspoken truth that my heart knew was to come. But a part of me was still holding on, still hoping. I had spent countless hours on Google searching for a better answer. Trying to match my symptoms with some other benign situation. Something that just needed a simple treatment and from there all could continue, even better than before.
Though they called my name, it wasn’t yet time to be told. Instead there was more waiting. This time in a separate room. Alone. Feeling slightly claustrophobic and impatient. My hands were clenched in my lap; my fingernails pressing against the soft flesh of my palms. The physical pain was only slightly distracting.
The doctor knocked gently on the door as she simultaneously opened it and joined me in the room reserved for sharing private things. Those things that aren’t welcome to be spoke of in public, unworthy of polite conversation. A salutary hello and small smile, she sat across from me and confirmed that they were unable to locate a heartbeat. That she was so very sorry - I had miscarried and no longer had a viable pregnancy.
In that moment it didn’t matter that this was what I had suspected, that this was what I had coached myself to be prepared to hear. That I had practiced being grateful, whatever the outcome. The moment seemed to happen in slow motion, taunting me to believe I could reach out and grab it back. If it was never spoken it wouldn’t be real.
The doctor’s lips formed sounds of explanation that I could not hear. The reasons simply didn’t matter.
She stood to leave and paused at the door. “You know, you aren’t the first to have a miscarriage. It’s statistically very common and happens all the time. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. [DP4] But if things get worse or you develop a fever, just take yourself to emergency.”
It was all surreal and I felt my face flush with righteous anger. Didn’t she understand that I wasn’t a statistic? That it didn’t matter to me if it “happens all the time.” It wasn’t supposed to happen to me. This wasn’t just some baby. This was my baby. This had been my baby. The past tense sounded so very wrong.
Though it no longer mattered, I searched my memory for what I had done wrong, what I could have done differently. There was nothing dramatic. I hadn’t jumped out of a plane against my doctor’s advice. I hadn’t secretly sipped wine, hoping that just a little would be okay. Maybe it was all the little things I ignored and took for granted as not really being important. The daily vitamins. Extra sleep. Proper exercise.
Or perhaps this was just the way it was meant to be. One more chapter in my story. And many more to come.
We know you have your own story. Regardless of where you are in your story, we look forward to sharing this chapter with you.