I vomited the nothing I’d eaten into the lukewarm shower stream, catching moist, ragged breaths around the silver blue droplets. As I barked up a gob of thick, clear mucus, belched it out with that indecorous rattle of fatigue, the bile and the blood circling the drain made a putrid brown swirl around my chipped coral toenails.
“I should cut those,” I thought, my cranial voice bland, and was suddenly overcome with the oddity of the situation.
Here stood I in my oppressively white shower, sobbing myself to emesis, hemorrhaging a welcome being I would never know, and the one coherent thought I’d mustered over two hours of once hot, now chilled tears concerned my long neglected nails.
Snared in a bath of hormones and medications by stretched sinews and pinching pink skin, every muscle twinged as I knelt tub-side scrubbing the shower floor to its former pristine glisten, tiny beads of frigid water dripping from the dark ends of bangs onto my flushed face. Feet cold to insensate, I stumbled gawkily as I made for the bedroom wardrobe, cursing at the quarter-sized blood drop outcast on the tile.
I denounced the asininely prim me that had dressed the bed in crisp ivory sheets the weekend before, pining for that soft, navy knit set despite the holes in the fitted sheet where it had once caught on the bed frame. Miserably I draped myself with cool blankets, imagining my doughy flesh a velvety bruised peach in crinkled tissue paper, my seeping womb the craggy deep pit. Evading the wet muddlement of his dear face the long night before, that daze in his eyes when they jeopardied him onto this nights MICU overnight call, I clung to the comfortable thoughts of my husband, flooding my consciousness with memories of his warm brown arms, those bright mahogany irises, the thought of his lopsided grin numbing my detached anguish. It was a fix; scrappy, hebetating, but a fix.
For a while.
I was in the twilight of easy sleep when the pain seared through me once more. Slow breaths and fond recollections and logical thoughts, even methodical review of a looming, pressing to-do list could not dissolve the image of that limp, translucent fetus, red on the white bathroom floor, could not erase the aching cold scrape of the D&C to complete what my body could not, could not elude the strident buzz of scarlet white emptiness echoing in my skull.
I dry swallowed an acrid vicodin before I dragged myself from bed to retrieve the toenail clippers.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
One in four women has survived miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
I am one in four.