Before your heart understands what you just heard…
… that your 9-week-old baby is dead inside of you…
… that your body still doesn’t know that your baby is dead…
… that the test is positive, but there is no heartbeat…
Your mind gets it. It has decisions to make.
Quickly, you have to think about whether you are going to go back to work or get a second confirmation that yes, indeed, your baby is dead. They check from every angle. Your baby is dead. You know now. For sure.
After, your body is hungry.
Where do you eat on a day that you want to forget? What do you eat after you learn that your baby is dead?
You pick a place that you will never go back to.
You wonder if it was something selfish that you did, that caused this…
You think about whether you should also burn everything that you are wearing.
You have to decide whether you are going to wait until your body discovers that your baby is dead or if you should take the baby out as soon as possible.
When you call your doctor with questions, you learn that it will feel like birth if you wait. And it can happen now or much later. You would have to live everyday, death inside you, wondering if today is the day that your body will let go. Will birth death.
You can schedule to have a doctor clear the dead baby out.
You choose that one.
A clean slate. A clear end in sight. A light at the end of the tunnel that you can barrel towards, stumble towards.
That morning your husband mentioned that your belly was definitely out already. That morning he mentioned that your breasts were definitely fuller. He said it with pride.
That morning you went in to meet your doctor and your baby for the first time. The doctor congratulated you and your husband on your speedy conception. You felt special, chosen.
That afternoon your baby is dead. The second sonogram measures your baby, the size of a southern pecan, and tells you exactly when the baby’s heart stopped. It’s been five days.
Life rages on. A quick scan of your Instagram confirms it.
How could you not know?
You think of all the people you told. You told too many people. Too many people to un-tell.
The next day you go back to work. You don’t think you can. But you do. You are able to smile and even make jokes. You are surprised that you have room for other feelings. You aren’t sure if this means that you are a psychopath or if you are amazing. You almost cry, a lot, all day. Your head pounds from the effort. You think about the dead baby in your body every minute. You return emails.
It is your birthday party that night. You accept that you will cry through it all. You mostly cry at the beginning. You have a proper sob in the bathroom. You leave your sunglasses on because whatever was lurking in your eyes when you looked in the mirror was frightening.
You drink a lot. You eat terribly. Deprive your body of food, punishing it for letting this happen.
You wonder if it was something selfish that you did, that caused this, made this necessary.
How many times has death come for you? How close did it get? How many times have you escaped, unscathed?
You dreamt of your late mother three weeks ago. It was the best dream. You asked her all of the questions you’ve ever had about life. She said the right things. Afterwards, it was as if she visited you. She saw you needed her and she came. She knew.
There’s a specific smugness that comes with the euphoria of creation. Its magnificence feels like invincibility. Like cheating death.
You’ve lost before. But, oh, you’ve been so lucky lately. Sad things happen every second. Life rages on. A quick scan of your Instagram confirms it.
It is your turn now, again. Carry it all.
Afterwards, when it’s all over, you feel…
You anticipated brokenness. You anticipated fear. You anticipated rage. You anticipated a grief so mighty it would swallow your soul whole.
Instead, with tremendous gratitude, you feel open.