I was a single mom when I fell pregnant with you. I had to tell the world you were coming and a single mom I would remain.
I felt suddenly open, to criticism, to judgment. Now a single mom by choice, not through a divorce I did not want — this time by my own decisions.
Your sudden arrival thrust forward all of the wrongs I had been ignoring and I knew alone was better for us.
I sat up, and I looked straight ahead, I told everyone about you. “The correct reply is congratulations,” I would say to their shocked faces as I revealed my news.
The night before the ultrasound that revealed your fatal diagnosis he texted me, “Keep me updated on MY child.”
My stomach turned.
The thought of sharing you was already making me nauseous.
I fell asleep with my hand over you and had nightmares all night about what your anatomy scan would tell the next day. Normal mom fears I tell myself the following day.
Hot tears are rolling down the sides of my face, into my ears. “Do you have any questions?”
No. No answers that day, just an absolute truth that something was very wrong. The specialist will know more.
“Good luck,” the doctor said as I walked out, stone-faced and exposed.
The nurses, the same nurses who watch me grow big with your brother and sister stood watching as I walked out, hands tucked, eyes averted, knowing.
The specialist does know more. Tears are again rolling into my ears. I want to sit up, wipe my belly clean, run.
The drive home is endless. I am wailing. I am angry.
I don’t deserve this.
I take my vitamins and stop drinking coffee for nine months. I hold my hands out, “Am I supposed just to keep growing, the kids will see me growing and growing, and then I tell them their brother has died?”
I’m honestly asking, but no one has answers.
The answer is yes, that’s exactly what happens.
I text your dad and ask if he wants me to call him with the news. Just text he says. So I spill my guts into an iPhone for him to reply, “I’m really sorry to hear that” –
And nothing ever again.
I am laying on a table, naked and numb about to encompass the literal meaning of open. Then suddenly you are here beside my face.
You’re here, and you’re fighting.
I’m laying open, my body, my soul as I try to catch words to say to you while you’re still here.
The room is full, and I am struggling, so I just say, “Thank you.” I am in shock, but I feel your face getting cold pressed to mine, and I know. Eyes closed, we both rest.
Back in the room, they ask me, “Do you want to see him, uncovered?” Yes. They rub my arms. Are you okay? Are you okay?
I’m looking at you, laying between my legs on the hospital bed and I count the reasons you couldn’t stay here with me.
In some ways, I’m lucky to know exactly why, to physically have seen. I might have driven myself even further towards the brink of madness had I not known.
There is a room full of people again as I hand you off to the funeral director. The tears have finally started to come now.
The numbness is wearing off; my brain is catching up to the situation.
I hold you one last time. This time I don’t worry about hurting you, now I realize you’re gone.
I squeeze you the way a mother squeezes her toddler when the love inside her wells up and she can’t help but give a long tight hug.
I hand you over, my sister walks out with you, and I am alone for the first time. I sit, staring at the sharps container screwed into the wall and the pain, for the first time, consumes me entirely.
It’s raining the day I’m discharged. The nurse walks me downstairs to wait on my car.
My sister pulls up, and the nurse says, “Congratulations.”
She’s somehow forgotten that my baby is dead.
Quickly she realizes her mistake.
“I mean good luck,” she says.
Yes. Good luck.