It is Friday. I sit at work, willing the doctor's office to call. My stomach is in knots. I wish, I hope for good news, but the thought crosses my mind that if it were good news the nurse probably would have called already. I try to distract myself with some of the mundane tasks that make up my job, the kind that take some brain power, but not total concentration, stealing anxious glances at the phone every 10 seconds or so.
Finally the phone rings. It is S, the nurse who seems to have been assigned to me (it is always S, the poor thing, who returns my calls and gives me my test results). We exchange pleasantries, and then she wastes no time in delivering the blow. I am to lose this baby, this tiny piece of hope, as well. I can hear sadness in her voice, and I feel bad that my broken heart has colored her day. I am sobbing now, but somehow I manage to ask her to have the doctor call me when he has returned from surgery.
I call my husband, who has been out of town all week. The words nearly choke me. It is as if I can hear his heart break, and at that moment, I want to die. I manage to type out a text to my mom, who has been nervously waiting, too. I have to stop and wipe my tears off of the tiny screen three times. I feel as if I've been punched.
I cannot believe that the world hasn't stopped, yet the fact that it hasn't reminds me that I am still at work, that I need to pull my shit together. A client comes in, with a stinky bag of bloody poop, and questions. I have answers. Autopilot has taken over. As I watch her leave, I see that another client, an elderly man, has pulled into one of the handicapped spots out front. He is here to drop his dog off for her weekly treatments. He struggles to rise from the driver's seat, and I rush outside to get the dog and save him the effort. "We'll call when she's done," I say, smiling brightly before I turn to walk back inside. Just then, something cracks inside of me, and this tsunami of shit that I've been barely holding back rises up. By the time I reach the treatment area and the coworker who is getting set up for this dog, I am sobbing again. Two thoughts flash into my brain, in rapid succession: first, that I must look like someone has died, and second, that someone has died.
I think about lying, about making up some crazy story to cover the quick exit I am about to make. I feel like I cannot let others know about this baby, dying or dead inside of me, because they just won't understand. The least I can do as a mother- literally, the absolute least I can do - is to shield this child's brief life from those who would reduce him to a collection of cells. I don't have the strength to lie, though, and the words spill out to my coworker. Even at this miniscule motherly task, I fail.
Driving home, I am surprised by the howl that rises up from my throat, and I find that I am beating my fists against the steering wheel. I remind myself that I need to pull it together, at least until I get home, because while I might want to die, surely most of the other folks on the road don't.
I make a quick stop for provisions (beer) and then I am home. The tears are coming hard and fast now, and my dog sits patiently in front of me, licking them off. I know that he simply loves their salty deliciousness, but at that moment he is my best friend. I wonder if this will be it for me, if all I'll ever get to mother will be things with fur.
Another coworker, who is also a friend, calls and offers to come over. I decline - I need to be alone with this right now. I try to justify this to myself, but really, I am just pushing her away, as I always do.
I talk to my mom. We both cry. It feels so familiar, and I want so badly to give birth, not death, to celebrate the arrival of a baby instead of mourning the departure of one.
Finally, the call I've been waiting for. I take a deep breath, answer, and hear my doctor's voice on the line. He, too, sounds sad. I tell him how frustrated I am, how I've been doing everything I can. He reassures me that there is nothing that I did, or didn't do that could have caused this nightmare to descend on our lives yet again. I ask the question: can we, should we, try again? Is it pure foolishness to believe that this will work out, eventually? I feel a little crazy for even thinking the question, but the conviction in his voice startles me. "There is no reason," he says, "to believe that you cannot have a healthy pregnancy." I am reminded of the conversation we had at my annual appointment, just before this baby was conceived, when he told me that the only question was how much we were willing to endure to get there. He is still talking, giving me statistics about how often these early losses happen, even to couples without a history like ours. He says that this changes nothing, that as sad as it is, and as much as it sucks, early miscarriage is a part of trying to get pregnant and it doesn't mean that I am doomed to uterine failure. Something is forged inside of me with his words, that cracked place in my soul is welded together, and I suddenly see myself differently. I begin to let go of that vision of myself as weak, as a destroyed, broken failure. I know this, and it is as clear to me as my name: I will not be defeated by this. I will not tuck tail and run. I am not a quitter. I know that I can't just walk away now, that I have to see this thing through. I will not stop until we are parents, or I can be sure that we have tried every possible thing we can try. I will not live my life with regret - I will not look back on this time when it is too late to try and wish that I had done more - because that would destroy me more completely than a miscarriage ever could. And if we get there - to the point where we've done all we can, and the conviction leaves my doctor's voice, to the point where my husband no longer smiles when I show him a positive pregnancy test - then I'll be able to walk away, free from thoughts of what if.
Until then, though, it's on.