a few years ago i lost a baby.
not physically, per say. i wasn’t walking around a super market with my child when, WHOOPS! i totally lost them in the dairy aisle when i was busy comparing yogurt prices.
i was eighteen years old when i peed on a pregnancy test for the first time. and considering the unprotected sex i’d been having since i was young- too young… it was a miracle i hadn’t had to even experience that before then. i was actually running around my apartment, waiting for my hair straightener to get hot and for friends to show up. m had been gone for a month at least- what seemed like an eternity then. i hadn’t heard much from him actually- save for the two page love note he wrote me on a bus on his way to halifax, a note he scribbled in the middle of the night to tell me about everything… the things he’d seen, the fun he’d been having, the agony in his heart since leaving me. he couldn’t spell for shit, but i always knew he was a poetic writer- he sucked me back in the way he did when we first met.
i’d been spending my twelve hour shifts at the smoothie bar, hunched over empty buckets of fruit, trying to hold down the little food i may have had in my stomach. i had spent so many weeks drinking to forget that i didn’t have any real idea as to how long he’d been gone, or what my cycle was even like at that point. all i knew was that he was gone, and i was sad, and this was how i dealt with things: by not dealing with them at all.
so i peed on that little pink stick, put the lid back on, and threw it on the bathroom counter. i tried to busy myself with other things- making sure the living room was tidy, or that the liquor was in the freezer.
there’s always those scenes in movies, where the room starts to spin and the narrator says things like “in one instant, i saw my entire life flash before my eyes” – that’s a real thing. that really does happen. and there must have been a moment where i blacked out because one minute i was sitting on the toilet looking at this pregnancy test, and the next i was on my stomach, hands flat on the cold tile floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
and if there is anyone in the world who knows me at all- they know how badly i want kids. how badly i want to be a mother- how i would drop this lifestyle in a heartbeat if it meant i could mother, and nurture, and love like that. i get dizzy when i think of a parents’ love for their kids- the courage and strength and determination. the unconditional drive to want and need to be better- so you can raise this little tiny human being and not fuck it up.
i guess that’s where the anger and resentment come from- i knew he’d fuck it up. the way his father fucked him up, the way he saw countless men fuck his mother up, and so on. the way the abuse in his life destroyed him and deteriorated him as a human being so hard, that he became that nightmare himself.
i must’ve been sixteen when we were sitting on a city bus, heading downtown. he looked me right in the eye and said “if you ever cheated on me, i’d leave you. i’d kill him, and i’d leave you”. my naive little brain then was so in love with that- the idea that he loved me so much that he could never possibly move past the idea of me being with someone else- that he would destroy anyone who had me, if it wasn’t him.
how heroic, i thought.
how fucking cowardly.
i don’t think the shock ever really set in, after looking at the test. i slept with it next to my bed, waking up in the middle of the night to check to see if both lines were still there. i was so, so scared then. not for me- not once for me. i wasn’t scared about my financial, emotional, or physical state. i didn’t care that i had been on a drinking binge since god knows when- i didn’t care that my bullshit smoothie job could barely put food in my own stomach- i didn’t even care that my baby’s father wasn’t even around when i peed on that stick because he was too busy snorting blow off some dirty table in someone’s basement in a foreign city- that he was half way across the country when my world had stopped spinning on its axis. these were all concerns, of course… but what i was most scared of, was that my baby would have to grow up and know what it felt like to love m.
i knew what it felt like then, and i still know now. the shellshock of loving him still haunts me today. certain sounds, certain smells… places, songs, faces. anger and resentment i couldn’t shake from me if i even tried. the fear that makes my own bones vibrate inside of me if i know i’m in a part of the city he may be in. if i ever made someone else feel that way- what kind of person would that make me? how could i make my child live that kind of crippling fear on a daily basis? how would i explain to my baby, that papa just had his fists wrapped tightly around mama’s neck because he was angry- because the drugs had worn off and i’d said the wrong thing again, and this time he wasn’t going to show any mercy. this time, i was going to have to use every ounce of strength i had left inside of me, because papa wasn’t letting go- papa burried his thumbs deep into my throat until everything went back.
she would have barely been two, then.
i didn’t have it in me.
m‘s dreams of travelling crumbled at his feet immediately. two days after i’d made the appointment, he called me from his mother’s house. “hey, honey bee” – his voice awkwardly resonated on the other end of the line, and i was paralyzed. there was a moment of silence, of shock, of complete disbelief. he immediately asked me what was wrong- something triggered in him, halfway across the country, telling him to come home to me… for reasons he couldn’t explain. all he knew was that i was hurting, and he needed to be by my side.
life is funny like that- connecting you to people you want so badly to separate yourself from.
all i know is this: i didn’t walk into that old cement building. that young little thing, with sweatpants on, and a tear-streaked face… that girl who had enough strength in her to walk into that clinic, fill out that paperwork, and go into that room… that was not me. there was a force inside of me, making me do this awful, gut-wrenching thing. i remember that day so clearly, it makes me sick. it’s like i’m floating and i can see myself going through the motions, and i keep yelling, “STOP!”, “GET OUT!”, “RUN!”.
.. but i can’t, and i won’t, and i didn’t.
my shaking fingers slipped that sedative under my tongue, and i waited. a young woman brought me to a dark room with curtains everywhere. it was sterile, and cold, and i fucking hated that room more than anything i had ever hated in my goddamn life. i remember not hearing much, then… i was sobbing so uncontrollably, my ears were ringing. the technician gently lifted my gown, and told me i had pretty tattoos on my hip bones.
it hit me then, like a ton of bricks. this woman was looking at a tiny little screen, looking at my baby, this distorted black & white image of my own flesh and blood. i caught my breath, if only for a moment, and demanded -”show me”. i must have caught her off-guard because she looked horrified.
“my baby, let me see”
“i’m so sorry… it’s against regulations”
“turn your screen and let me see my fucking baby”
she hesitated for a moment, looked around quickly and turned the screen to face me. i don’t know what i was expecting to see- some beautiful image of a pale-skinned, coffee bean-haired, black-eyed little girl bouncing around in clear, fresh, blue water. a perfect mix of her father’s best features and mine: a vision i’d had in my silly little head since i was sixteen years old. he was a handsome man, that fucking asshole. lips pink like cotton candy, and a smirk that still makes my heart drop to the tip of my toes.
what i saw was so, so much more, somehow. this little black & white bean floating in the pit of my body. my own little creation- perfect in its entirety. i’ve never experienced anything more painful than seeing that.
the drugs must’ve kicked in then because i don’t remember getting back to my chair. a nurse peeked her head into the hallway and called my name. i looked her dead in the eye, walked up to her, and collapsed in her arms.
“i don’t want to do this”, i whispered.
i don’t think she had experienced a patient like me, then- a young spitfire so determined to do the right thing, the only thing i’d ever done in my life that felt selfless. she caught me mid-fall, held me against her- the way a mother would, and apologized, endlessly. she lead me to a room of metal and latex. a room so devastatingly cold. she helped me out of my little black underwear, lifted me onto the table, and held my hand- i cried, and cried, and so did she. we looked at each other knowingly, and she didn’t leave my side once. i don’t remember her face- all i remember is the sincerity in her eyes and her heartbeat pumping against mine between my fingers.
the extra drugs i’d taken, and the gas i’d demanded before the procedure kicked in just as it was ending- i don’t remember much then, but my nurse helped me back into my underwear, and more or less carried me into recovery. she left me with a “care package”, stayed with me awhile, and left. it was the last i’d seen her.
i’m still angry.
i’m angry with myself for taking that route, angry with myself for being angry with myself. it’s a pain i don’t think i’ll ever be free of. i haven’t cut myself a break about this since the day it happened.
people joke about it sometimes- the thought of me putting down the beer bottle, to pick up a baby bottle. i get it- it’s funny, i’ve fucked up so hard for so many years… but truthfully? it stings. it pierces through the only good pieces left of my heart because i know if there was one thing i could do in this fucking world, and not fuck it up beyond repair, it’s motherhood. i want to do it, and i will, and i will be the fucking valedictorian of it because i am so, so meant to be someone mama- a feeling so fierce i can’t shake it.
a feeling so fierce i won’t shake it.