From the AnthologyBeauty for Ashes: Stories of Maternal Hope
By Dr. Tisha Carter
1 living son
1 still born
The mathematics of it all. I know why the numbers matter so much to me. It’s about the experience, so even having just one maternity fatality matters.
We had been to every specialist, fertility and several high-risk, six different doctors total. Conception was never the issue. We had conceived ten times. We saw two lines ten times. We made plans ten times. I made plans eleven times. Ten times in a matter of four years. Ten times of conception.
I pull in the parking lot. There are a few other cars there scattered across the natural display of parking spots, but no sign of my husband’s. I head into the office and text him that I have arrived. No answer. They take me back to the exam room. I get undressed and put on the embarrassing hospital gown that we all know is incredibly when considering covering an average sized pregnant woman. I decide to keep my black t-shirt dress because it operates just as the hospital gown, providing access to the important areas.
There is knock at the door. It is the nurse with my husband. The doctor follows in behind my husband. She is excited and glad to see us. I felt anxious about seeing her, not happy, not sad, but anxious. She asks me what I had been eating and if I had been keeping my stress to a minimum. The micro-aggressions buried deep in accusation makes me start to question myself and my intent towards my own chance at having a baby.
She tells me to assume the position while my husband sits in the chair on his phone. He seems disinterested and detached. I assume that it’s the only way he can engage without falling apart emotionally considering our journey. She turns off the lights in the room and we can only see the screennow. She attempts to continue to small talk, but I have now submerged myself into my invisible turtle shell, bracing myself for impact.
She squirts the gel on and begins to move ultrasound wand around on my belly. The room falls silent and my husband looks up. After several more maneuvers she cracks a joke, “this baby is being stubborn today.” I knew different. I had been here before. Too many times to record them all. Too many instances of with the same sentimental heaviness that entered the room the moment the silence happened. Six different doctors, three different hospital systems, and still no baby.
She turns the machine off and tells us that the fetus no longer viable. She asks, “How soon do you want to schedule the DNC?” It is the same question time. I don’t think you’re supposed to have as many as I’ve had. Two of the other doctors told me to just allow the remains to naturally passthrough me. There are no words for the emotional trauma that comes with having pieces of your baby recognized in clumps at every restroom visit.
I got into my car and drove home, racing through traffic at 95 miles an hour. Tears flowing from my eyes that I could no longer attempt to catch with my hands. I screamed a horrid grunt of anger that was monstrous. I wanted someone to blame. I wanted an explanation for all the losses. I wanted to know why my babies never wanted to stay here with me. I questioned was I good enough? Was I such a bad mother to my son that God would not let me have another? How come no one has answers?
So here I sit holding ten tragedies so close to my heart that they are a part of my being. I can no longer see a baby and not feel some type of emotion about my journey. My heart aches at mere invitation to baby showers and 1st birthday parties. Yes, by the grace of God I am healed, but I am human.