Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Category: Short Story, Life, Essays

It was 1993, I was recently married, and I wanted nothing more than to be a mother.  We started fertility treatments in the Fall, including the Hysterosalpingogram – HSG – an invasive extremely painful test meant to discover any blockages that could prevent pregnancy from occurring.  Thankfully, the test found nothing, and I vowed I would never go through such a horrifying experience again.  I didn’t realize that mothering could turn out to be even more painful and horrifying than that dreaded HSG.

In 1994, we started artificial insemination – also referred to as the creation of “Turkey Baster Babies”. The first try was successful, and I was floating in the clouds, telling everyone instantly. It was magical.  We decided to fly to Florida to tell Jamie’s parents and my grandparents in person. The plane trip proved to be the beginning of the nightmare of my children.  Jamie was angry about something. I don’t even remember what.  Someone much later told me the incident was because Jamie had never really wanted a child in the first place. I don’t know if that was true. But the incident changed my life.  Jamie picked up one of our heaviest bags from the plane’s overhead compartment and slammed it down onto my belly, my uterus, our child.  Just a day or two later, our baby boy, my Jonah, miscarried. He was dead.

I mourned, I cried, I screamed, but all I really cared about, still, was becoming a mother.  We tried again.  We conceived instantly again.  Jamie had shut down. There was no outward anger. There never had been before, and there was again.  Passive aggressive, yes.  But nothing that I felt could endanger our second child.  She grew and thrived.  We heard her heartbeat, we saw her ultrasound, we were given a picture of her sucking her thumb.  Twenty-five years later and I still have those films with me. Not the photo.  But the films.  I was in love with our daughter from the moment of conception.  Observing my baby calmly sucking her thumb inside of me, my love intensified to a level I cannot even describe.  At a single trimester I was buying her dresses and furniture.  Her bureau stands by my bed still today.

Before we reached the halfway point, we were joyfully visiting the midwives, where we were told they could no longer find the baby’s heartbeat.  We were given the choice of waiting for the baby to deliver on her own, or having her delivered now, with assistance. I was mortified. Jamie was silent. We drove home to decide.  Sitting in the sunroom, in the midst of my hysterical crying at the prospect of another lost child, in the midst of Jamie’s cold unmoving silence, my water broke. My hysteria reached a new pitch.  I saw that the amniotic fluid was either followed or accompanied by massive bleeding, and my hysteria changed to wails of terror alongside the deep mourning.  I couldn’t think. The loss of our second baby, our daughter Anna, the loss of so much blood, I fell to the floor and begged Jamie to help me, to do something, anything at all.  The unmoving silence remained.  No matter how much I screamed and cried, no matter what I said, Jamie did nothing. 

I knew I had to do something, but I couldn’t think of what or why.  I set my sights on the landline - there were no cell phones back then.  I half crawled, half dragged myself across the room to that telephone, but couldn’t remember who I was supposed to call.  I forgot about the midwives. I forgot about the supervising high risk OB. I forgot about 911.  I somehow remembered my mother. We hadn’t spoken or communicated in anyway in years, but I somehow remembered my mother, her phone number, and the thought that maybe she still loved me enough to help me save myself or my baby or even both of us.  The thought that my baby, without a heartbeat, couldn’t possibly saved from this nightmare, was lost in the terror of this moment, with her life.  I don’t know how I remembered her phone number.  It’s been decades now since I dialed that number, and still today, if I lay back my head and imagine dialing, my inner fingers are capable of successfully pushing the buttons of my adolescence.

I called my mother.  She cried and screamed – where I learned this defense mechanism I imagine – and begged me to give the phone to Jamie.  Unmoving silence.  After several tries at reaching through to Jamie, my mother gave me the very specific instructions to hang up the phone, call 911, tell them what was happening in explicit detail, and then call her right back again.  I had enough blood and sanity left to do get the ambulance there at her direction, then collapsed, waiting to die.

Next thing I knew I was on a gurney in an empty hallway, screaming for help at the top of my lungs. Begging for someone to stop the hemorrhaging caused by my dead baby, begging for anyone to hear me and come to save me even if she could no longer stay inside of me and thrive.  I don’t know how long I was in that hallway and state of mind.  I don’t know where Jamie was, if in the hospital with me at all. I remember someone telling me the drugs would make me not feel anything, not remember a thing. 

They lied.  Every moment of that procedure, as they ripped my child from inside of me, every moment of that horror is still ingrained in my head.  I awoke in a recovery room where I asked to see my baby.  The nurse said Jamie had told them to “dispose of it”, and that she was gone.  As I let out a bloodcurdling scream, I was handed a sheet of paper on how to care for myself after having an abortion, and told to get up and go home. 

And I had thought the hysterosalpingogram was torture.

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Old Comments

  • Well written.

    Posted by deminizer  on  02/14  at  12:09 PM
  • Page 1 of 1 pages

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