CW: This essay discusses miscarriage.
By Hanna Bartels
It started with red and it ended with water. And in between, I waited at the Starbucks counter and I rested my fingertips on the contour of the beginning. A habit, a protective hand. But the baby beneath that barely there bump stopped growing the day before. My baby was now just my pregnancy and the next day would be just blood and tissue.
I rubbed my thumb against an angel pinned to an impossibly small blanket in my pocket. Over a bead of blistered plastic at the bottom of the left wing where the mold opened too soon and hot resin seeped out.
When someone you know dies, you mourn the loss of them. Their smell, the sound of their voice, how your days transform without them. But when you lose a pregnancy, your life doesn’t change at all. Your belly should swell, your house should fill with bouncers and swings and carriers and bottles and dirty diapers. But instead, you drink your coffee and the world spins on its axis.
The warped angel was a reminder: I was pregnant once, and now I am not.
Four days before, I’d noticed a spot of red on my toilet paper.
I rummaged through my medical file, searching for the number the nurse had first starred and then circled at my first prenatal appointment.
My mother-in-law called down the hall, good morning and cheerful, asked if she should make coffee. She was in town for a cousin’s wedding and my husband, a surgical resident, was at the hospital.
Just one second, I told her, I’ll make it.
I pushed aside flour and sugar in my cabinet to reach the coffee I hadn’t touched in months.
I just had some spotting, I told her as I scooped ground beans into the filter. Continue Reading…