"Women were made for birth and life and death. In the moment of miscarriage, birth and life and death come through us."--Kristen Swanson, quoted in an article by Angela Garbes titled "What I Gained from Having a Miscarriage" published in The Stranger, 2016
I knew in the culmination of love that night, that it had happened—that all the everything had shifted with the arrival of a tiny spark, a new beginning.
In that one electric second, you came to be, swimming into me on a wave of ecstasy.
Before You, I was free—solitary and structured, focused and intent— now I’m pregnant with so much power I don’t know what to do or how to be. I grow to fill the room. I vibrate with this secret, a second self; a new heart, blooming in the soil of my blood.
And I hated it, at first.
I hated you, and I wanted you gone. You made no sense, we don’t have the space, I don’t have the time. So I slid open the drawer with the envelope inside, that holds the 6 small pills. I put them in my palm and considered it. All the different shapes that power takes. I can do whatever I want, and I will.
And I made my choice. I opened my heart to the possibility of You. I accepted the thrum of cells furiously multiplying in my womb, intent on becoming a Self unto yourself. I slipped the PILLS back to the back of the cupboard. And I loved you.
I saw into the future there and then, to the other side; the final push; your face. The euphoria of your body and your being cleaving from me. Our first beatific encounter on earth.
I made you in my mind’s eye, constructing a place for you in this life of mine, adoring the You I imagined you would be, born through me, and into this world of my creation.
I introduced you to our children, and they each, in their own generous way, rearranged themselves to accommodate You.
Lee too, decided to love You. We bought a van. We made a plan. He and I hallucinated your birth together, and dreamed into reality the halo of love that would surround us all at your arrival.
I picked out the softest wool for your newborn cap. I bought you a tiny shirt. I could smell you. I saw you in every infant I encountered.
I shared the secret of You here and there. Friends and acquaintances joined us in the intrigue.
In the cafe, I receive a text message from my dearest sister friend. “You’re having a baby!” Yes. I’m having a baby. Then I stand up to walk to the washroom, and there is blood.
Stunned, I bike home, the dull ache in my abdomen blossoming. My pants are saturated when I arrive, and the kids gather round, Mum Mum, you’re bleeding. Mum are you having the baby? Mum are you ok?
I think the baby is dead, I say, flatly.
I send the kids upstairs and pace the kitchen, antsy. I take off my bloody pants. I don’t know what to do. Standing over the sink, I give birth to a large clot, the size of a grapefruit, into my hands. I dig through it, like an animal, looking for a human being. Searching for my dead baby.
Just then, my phone rings. It’s the government. They’re asking for further documentation to prove that our youngest child is really ours. Is now a good time? The woman asks. Oh yes. Sure, I say, blood all over the phone, blood dripping down my thighs and onto the floor.
The woman says Blah blah blah blah blah. Yes?
Yes. That’s correct.
Another clot, this time orange-sized. I think I have to go now, I say to the government person. It crosses my mind that I’m delusional. I don’t mention to her that I’m miscarrying at this precise moment. This is the upside. They can’t have this one. This is all mine.
Over the next 24 hours, I bleed and bleed, like the creature that I am. There is no baby anywhere, other than the one I conjured up. Just old blood, and dark matter. Eight weeks, but you must have died a while ago. There is nothing left of You but wet red brick dust. Right on time.
I sleep and cry, and sit alone. I get annoyed. I get angry. Dumb dead baby. How dare you leave me here? Then guilt and regret creep up, crash like waves. Did I do this? Does ambivalence kill? Then numbness. Then fever.
For a few hours I toss and turn. Lee takes the kids out, so I can have some space. I get up, out of bed. I run a bath and sit in the silty water until it’s cold.
I am my body, and this is she, surrendering in all her wisdom. Like the birth that it is, I step aside and allow the letting go, the flowing out of me. Blood and water, pouring forth below my soft and wrinkled belly. I feel old and sullen. Done for. Empty.
The next morning I wake up with the sun, to the cacophony of birds in our paradisiacal yard. I walk out to water the verdant garden, barefoot. Tangled beans and sweetpeas spill over the raised bed. Squash blossoms and green tomatoes have appeared overnight. Plump drunk bumblebees drift and waver. I weed with ferocious intensity.
Exhausted after, I lie down in the tall grass where no one can see me. My body settles into the earth, and the sun burns my eyelids, my shoulders and my thighs. Here I am, all-powerful. Woman. Embodying the portal between life and death.
For my fertility, for my softness, for my resiliency, for my children, for my love, for my grief, my tears, my faith, my doubt, my courage, my fear, I am grateful.