Four Pregnancies

by | Dec 7, 2021 | CNF, Issue Twenty Four

Why is this happening again?

            Words escape us. They rise in my chest, fluttering, flailing, and they falter. Leaving only the thick silence of what we cannot name.

            We had names. We thought them up. Gave life to the burgeoning life. So fragile. So delicate. So barely there that we whispered, just in case.

            Just in case we’re here again.

            Another hospital room.

            We have been here before. The new life washing out, leaving us both hollow.

            We have been here before and it is never the same. It is always the worst. Each time, it hurts in unnamable ways.

            We made lists. Lists of names. Dozens of names. All for the life we believed in already. We bought furniture, painted a room, debated whether or not we’d find out the sex before birth (we didn’t, wouldn’t). We told our cats, even.

            This was long ago. We lost another. This time more timid. Those barely there whispers now a frightful silence. Just in case.

            So many just in cases and then another life lost before birth.

            Your mother named you. Both of you.

            They told us it happens all the time. It’s relatively normal. It happened to her and her and her. And then her and her and her, too. It happens all the time. It means nothing at all.

            Yet it means so much.

            A little life.

            It’s different when it happens on purpose. When you made your hopes and desires into flesh. A delicate, frail, fragile flesh. They’re so delicate that they’re lost all the time and no one even notices. Maybe just a heavy period. More cramping than usual.

            It happens all the time.

            But it’s different when that cluster of cells becomes real for you. When you consider the name and face they may one day have. When you start imagining a future.

            That cluster of cells became a child very early for us. And though it happens all the time, happens to so many women every day, we weren’t prepared for the immensity of that loss.

            It was just a bunch of cells. Not yet a baby.

            But we named you. We saw your faces when we closed our eyes. We heard your voices in our dreams.

            I hear you both now, again. You children who never were. You children who meant so much to us. Those pregnancies that ended abruptly in a rush of blood, a clump of flesh, days of tears.

            It felt like such cruelty. To hope and then believe and then know, to plan for a future where that cluster of cells became a child running through hallways, cuddling with our cats, laughing or crying in my arms.

            I see them now, blurred by my tears as I type this on a phone in the hospital. They took your mother away for an ultrasound. They listened calmly, tossed out the bloody pads while your mother’s bloody jeans sit beside me in a well lit but empty room.

            Haunted.

            Haunted by our children never born, by the visions I still remember of them when I believed they’d be here with me. With us.

            She told me how she lost confidence in her body. Something she didn’t even know was possible. To feel so much uncertainty. A fatalism, a hopelessness, a horrifying lack of control.

            Another pregnancy. At 10 weeks, a torrent of blood. The mourning lasted for days and then weeks, until we got evidence that this one made it through.

            We had a boy, then. He is a wonder. We thought, after a few years, Maybe another.

            She took the test. We told our parents, some of our friends.

            Eventually, we even told our son. Made him understand. He told us his preference for names. Yesterday, he told me he had a baby in his tummy too. Like mommy.

            Nearly 12 weeks.

            A torrent of blood. Jeans soaked. Hospital rooms. An ultrasound I’m not allowed to attend.

            I sit here typing instead, remembering our ghosts. The faces they never had. The voices that never spoke. The dead futures of dead children.

            Death has had a grip on me for so long. It’s not fear of death but a comfort I’ve found in death.

            And yet.

            The words rise and fall within me. I have nothing to say. I must speak. Must type. If only to keep from sobbing.

            I believe in you. I do not yet know you but I believe in you. I don’t want to speak of you in anything but present tense.

            We should have learned our lesson. Been more patient with our joy, with our belief, with our love.

            We, at least, have not yet named you. We will, no matter what happens. We will name you. Remember you.

            But we could not help but believe in you. To see you as you someday may be.

            We believe in you and hope you believe in us too. I hope we will come to know you as more than another ghost chained to your dead siblings. All of you chained to us. Haunting us forever.

            We will remember you.

            I still hear you. I feel you in this empty room.

            One day, I hope you hear me too. Hope you know the love I hold for each of you.

            They’re opening the door now. Your mother’s coming back.

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