Life starts with a heartbeat. On an ultrasound it always makes me think of a tiny flame flickering in the wind. Beating to stay alive, beating against the chaos of the universe. Hundreds of thousands of cells, splitting and multiplying and growing despite the odds. Life is sacred, life is a rebellion, life is a resistance against death. Death is the natural state of all matter, the end of all things. An end that cannot be escaped. I will die, you will die, all will die.
Children are our immortality.
But only if they live.
In my mind I can see a picture of a still heart. A heart no longer beating, no bigger than the glistening jewel of a pomegranate seed. Rendered in fuzzy black and white. The end of a story that had hardly begun. The end of a future I visualized only in my head. A baby boy who would come to me a few weeks before Thanksgiving. A perfect human just like ones I bore before. To experience lends to imagination. I know the feel of soft skin and a tiny body held in my arms. The sweet breath of a sleeping infant. The feeling of falling my chest, the hormonal love and swelling joy of a real living baby. I know perfectly the extent of my loss. That dizzying happiness has slipped away silently, leaving me with something worse than nothing, it's left me with a dead fetus encased in my womb. A burden like stone to be carried until it can be released with great pain and confusion. Doctors, a hospital, a surgery with anesthesia so when I wake up I remember nothing. The sweet relief of a process of healing after death. Now an uphill journey back to normal life can begin.
My body is in chaos. I was pregnant, now I'm not. The shock of the hormone drop is like hitting a wall, like falling from a tall building. A sickening plummet and a hard impact. I am physically sick. I am unwell. I can barely stand it. Grief wraps around my throat and strangles my every breath. But I walk, I talk, I smile. I get up and make breakfast for my family. I hold the hands of my children. I go to work. I pay the bills and walk the dog. I am like the living dead. In shock I feel nothing but can sense a tidal wave of emotion waiting to break over and drench everything with sorrow, fear and loathing. I was going to be a mother to a son that will never be born. The knowledge is a sliver that pierces my heart, hot and searing, a new reality that I must wrestle into submission. This is my life now.
I am ruthlessly determined. I am a problem solver, a goal orientated, relentless pursuer of achievement. In this desert of grief there are no enemies to vanquish. No monsters to subjugate. No problems to overcome. There is no there there. Everything is normal. My test results yield nothing. There are no answers to give, so nothing is given. No plans of action besides hope for the best. Insidious, to hope against the terrible odds. To expect different results, a deviation from a path worn deep. In my utter helplessness to change my course a deep rage blooms and grows. Bright and big, like a poisonous flower. My anger is impotent. It is directionless, turning this way and that, seeking a target. I am careful that I don't explode and send shrapnel in every direction.
I have no power. Six miscarriages in a row and I lack the ability to protect my unborn children from the nameless thief that steals their lives. I cannot wrench a new soul into the world with the force of my will. My prayers to a faceless god are unanswered. There is nothing to do and nowhere to turn. I hate, a great lake of bitterness that wells up from my heart and floods my chest. This desert is dark and cold. I am the bestial creature eating my own heart.
There, encased in my own darkness like a chrysalis, I can make a choice. I can chose to be free, to be happy. I can chose laughter. My life is still a good life, a life worth living. I have more than I lost. I can take care of myself. I can release my grief in the wind and breath easy. Now I know a secret, that grief like death is inescapable. You cannot live life without loss and within this natural order is still joy. An overwhelming joy to be alive, to be sacred. I can cry, I can light my candles and embrace my sadness but I'm still fiercely happy and ever so thankful that I have the power to turn my hatred inside out. To shake it off like an old skin.
I love and because I love I cannot lose a life without pain. The stronger my love, the more powerful my grief. And this love is a beautiful thing which I give to all of my children, both living and dead. I love you and you are worth it. So with this I can go in peace. I am invincible in love, powerful in love. My love is a gift and I give it freely.
The choice gives me back my agency. I chose to love and to never give up.
But this is only the shock. I can feel the darkness behind me, it's coming but it's not here yet. And when it comes, no will can keep me from being lost.