Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baby, baby, baby

by Amy MacKinnon

Blood. There isn't supposed to be blood, but there it is.

My stomach flips, failing to right itself. My hands, knees, and voice tremble while talking to the obstetrician on call. His soothing words can't reassure me, but I'll repeat them to reassure those around me.

Only nine weeks into my third pregnancy and I'm on my fourth day of bed rest. I steel myself for each trip to the bathroom. But there's more blood this time. Too much.

This time the I speak to the nurse. She's become a friend, and this time the reassuring words do soothe me. She tells me her story. Her first pregnancy and three months later the spotting began. She lost that baby but somehow had conceived a second while still pregnant with the first. After being pregnant for eleven months, she gave birth to a son. Her miracle. I don't believe in miracles and we end by making an appointment for the following week.

My husband holds me saying it's probably for the best. We weren't prepared this unexpected pregnancy. He returns a few moments later, eyes full, voice thick. He's sorry. Sorry for the words he didn't mean, the baby whose life we won't share, his inability to comfort me. Yet it's the pain he shares that's the greatest comfort. We hold each other.

Our three-year-old daughter lays beside me in my bed, quiet, her head tucked under my chin as my husband and I explain the sister she longs for won't be. Our son, only eighteen months, doesn't understand all of it -- only enough to know his mother's crying. He wraps his chubby arms around my neck, kisses me a thousand times. When I smile, it's his cue to jump on the bed. The children have already begun to bounce back while I haven't begun to grieve.

Some days later, I sit in my doctor's office as if awaiting a death sentence. The morning sickness that's wracked me now resolved, my once-round stomach, already flat again. They don't keep me waiting long. The nurse embraces me. I thank her for her kind words and a short time later I leave, knowing I won't be back again until it's time for my annual physical. I won't be back every month, then every two weeks, and, finally, weekly for my maternity visits. The doctor won't measure my growing belly, chastise my increasing weight, share his own stories. I won't call him in the middle of some March night to tell him it's time.

In the parking lot, tears choke me as I try to find the ignition. Soon I can't breathe. I miss my baby. I desperately wanted that baby. I suddenly realize I'm a mother to a child whose face I'll never see, whose body I'll never hold. Though not a person of faith, I beg for my child.

Two days later the phone rings. It's the nurse calling with the results of my tests. I'm prepared for the call, she said it would be coming, I'm not prepared for the words. I'm still pregnant. My baby is still with me. My baby is alive. Words I didn't expect to hear because hope hadn't been a part of my life these past weeks.

I hang up the phone and fall to me knees. Lifting my shirt, I wrap my arms around my baby.

(My daughter is now 12 and the light of my life.)