Saturday, October 15, 2016

A little death, with no warning

The memory that comes most immediately to mind when I think about pregnancy loss is of a particular moment riding my bike through a particular intersection.  Which is pretty weird.  You would think there would be stronger and more relevant memories, and in fact there are--seeing friends who we don’t see often and realizing their due date was within weeks of the one we had just found out was cancelled; an ultrasound tech who was too quiet and then left the room for way too long--but those aren’t the ones closest to the surface.  (In the case of the latter, at least, there’s a pretty obvious self-preservation explanation for that being so.)

On the day of that ride home from work, I had begun to think of the hope I felt in expectation of our first child in terms of a mental image of some sort of luminous thing growing inside me.  I might as well be specific, since it really is that specific, and say it looked like an iridescent puffball.  That was the retrospective part of the mental image, because what I had inside me by then was what remained after that luminous thing died, collapsed, and putrefied.  Which felt like a dark ball of sorrow-rage-despair-anger-depression slamming around inside my chest.  The reason the memory of that moment is so vivid is that in the few seconds I was riding through that intersection, I had gone from sorrow to rage to despair.  And then that, too, lifted for a moment and I thought, “Whoa.”

From a distance, I think there’s a sort of terrible beauty in the places where life and death (and not-life, and not-death) are so intimately intertwined as in early pregnancy.  But up close, in practice, how can it be borne?  With hope, I guess, because what else?  Even if hope sometimes turns into something else that makes a very credible attempt at destroying you.