Literary Reflections is pleased to present our featured writing prompt response for June. We asked “Is there a difficult or joyful experience of your own that you have not yet been able to write about? What would it look like if you could paint a scene of it?”
Meredith Hatcher wrote:
I knew immediately when I saw that pink blot on the tissue paper. My husband heard my hysterical wailing and ran into our tiny bathroom. (Was it hysterical wailing? Or did I call his name? Yell out “No”, or maybe “Oh, God”? I remember the horror more clearly than the dialogue.) He had to repeat his frantic “What?” before I could manage to say, “I’m having a miscarriage.”
Seven hellish days of ultrasounds, blood work, doctor appointments, and spotting produced no clear answers. I grew to hate the doctor’s office and everyone associated with it.
“Still no heartbeat, but it’s possible that we were just off on your due date. With a very early pregnancy, a heartbeat isn’t always detectable. The pole appears to have gotten slightly smaller. Your hormone levels are low. This is either a six-week pregnancy or a miscarriage.”
“There’s no way my due date is off by that much,” I answered clearly. (Do you KNOW how much time I’ve spent poring over my calendar these past seven days? How many times I’ve stared at that one calendar box? I hate that little white calendar box, crowded with smiling doodles, hearts and the screaming words “I’m pregnant!” I hate that little white box almost as much as I hate you!”)
“There’s no way,” I repeated, “I found out I was pregnant ten weeks ago.”
“Well then, it looks like we’re dealing with a miscarriage.”
The discussion that followed yielded one of the most regrettable decisions I’ve ever made. I chose to have a D&C to remove the baby, and I’ve doubted that decision since. The valid reasons I once saw for having the D&C now haunt me as weak excuses. (It had been the worst week of my life. I was exhausted and emotional. I couldn’t bear to just sit around and wait for a full miscarriage — a nightmare I imagined of blood and baby gushing down my legs. They said there was a risk of infection if the baby, not living, remained inside of me for too long. I was so sure of my dates. I was so sure when I saw that first pink spot on the tissue paper.)
When I delve into the wreckage of my regret, my computer screen disappoints me with the same hurtful string of unanswerable questions. Was my baby truly ready to go? Did I ask enough or the right questions of the doctor and nurses? Could my baby have survived? Did I give up on him (her?) instead of fighting like a real mother? (Surely only really mothers experience this aching guilt. There’s not enough space in 500 words for this guilt.) Can I forgive myself for falling so short of my own expectations?
I try to write about it, but the results always smell more like old library book documentation than freshly-cut green growth. My writing offers up my endless apology, but it falls painfully short of granting me absolution.
Meredith Hatcher may be contacted via meredithhatcher(at)hotmail(dot)com.