A new ditty for me. Consider these. I think they talk to each other about what makes us happy and what doesn't. I'm sure there is a TED talk out there on this too. My goal is to get you thinking about why less makes you happier. Fidelity makes you happier. What are your rules for happy?
Watch: Hector and the Search for Happiness
Listen: Walk the Moon's Spend Your $$$
and Apartment Story by The National
Read: The Happiness Project or A Path Appears. I recommend the latter highly.
A fiction. An exercise. A memorium. An honorarium to dear friends.
How to lose a baby
Want one. Cheer for every ovulation like your husband cheered
for the Colts to slaughter the Saints in the Superbowl. When your body bleeds
again in a few weeks, wonder why he cheered against the Saints.
You know this fails the synchronicity test. What you have is
myth, so you actively dismiss the thought, what
business did he have cheering against saints? What if the Saints symbolized
What if it all importuned bad luck?
What business do you
have questioning the (insert word here: mercies? faithfulness? ways? goodness?
love?) of God? Talk yourself down. Wait.Those who
wait upon the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own
understanding. Surrender to the
Scriptures and snatches of hymns that give you hope. Wait upon late blood. Hope
it turns to no blood, to two lines, a plus sign on a pee stick. Jiggle your
breasts for an ounce more of weight. Brush the nipple, hoping it aches.
Late in January you begin the
second wait. The one from the cash register at the drug store to the bathroom.
Two minutes in the public restroom? Or ten minutes home and two more minutes?
Open the box without tearing the package directions. Squat, careful not to pee
on too strong, too far up the stick, or on your hand. Perch the damp stick on
the box. Watch the second hand click and jerk on your watch.
Negative. One bar. Stash the
other three tests, the second from the box in the back of the medicine drawer.
Wait to bleed. Wait to cry until you bleed again.
Make plans for dinner this Valentine’s
day. Be pressure free, says everyone. Have fun. You have the best date. You wonder
while you stare into his eyes if this will be the release valve, or will
adopting be that? Everyone says once you adopt you conceive. Such pressure to
squeeze your ovaries or his vas deferens. You should have started bleeding
three days ago. Because you don’t see red, you don’t order red, or white. “Mineral
water, please.” Later decaf green tea. He sees. His squeeze on your hand as you
walk out makes you both tear up.
You walk the cold blocks to
the theater feeling like you returned to your twenties, when you got hot
involuntarily, when your body clotted and cleansed like a clock, before the
clock hit thirty and it broke.
Try not to picture sperm
meeting egg when your husband makes love to you. On following mornings, begin
taking your basel temperature before you swing out of bed. Record changes in
the journal. Check for the quality of your emissions. Imagine a twinge. The egg
burst from the ovaries and flings itself towards your husband’s school of
sperm, like salmon hurtling upstream as frenzied as your most joyful lust.
Great Lent starts later that
week. Still you don’t bleed. Your journal reads with years of morning
temperatures. How long have you longed for this baby. Basel, basil. Bleed. When
March idles in, almost Annuciation, the Feast of the Archangel Gabriel
announcing to Mary her pregnancy, when the sweatshirt you pull over your head
hits your breast wrong, you wince. You sneak into the bathroom that morning
before your husband knows. Lock the door. It does no good to get his hopes up.
Tremble. Tear. Box. Impossible plasticvinylaluminium package. Squat. Pee.
Swear. You forgot a clock. Guessing time by counting and saying the alphabet
you wait. One line never materializes. Negative. Damn the single pink stripe on
Try not to want the baby too
much. Well-meaning friends opine, “It’s stress. It inhibits conception.”
It’s a kind of lust, all
sinful, this hope. With it comes contempt for the fertile careless
seventeen-year-old who decides to keep her baby because “babies-are-so-cute.”
Shudder with contempt too whenever a pious friends suggests spiritual hoodoo,
one of your hippie friends suggests a diet cleanse and some aromatherapies.
Three more days repeat the
sneak, tear, squat, squirt, wait. This time: plus. Two lines. Lay your forehead
down there on the peestick. Jerk it up at the moisture. It’s your urine on your
forehead and you don’t know if this annointing is holy or disgusting. In one
month from today, the Feast of Annuciation. It’s thirty days off but it feels
Now how to tell your husband
with all the joy and poetic justice? Thirty-three you are. See. I’m not too old. I am Sarai. I will be transformed into Sarah,
Tell him and no one else. Oh,
almost no one else. In a week your mother knows. In two, you tell the one best
friend. In three your husband has told your priest and a few confidants.
All of March and April. In
May, at your friends’ wedding you pretend to sip the toast, but a few friends
who hope secretly for you notice when you push the glass towards your husband,
like a recovering alcoholic discreetly passes off his drink at these functions.
They inquire discreetly. You demand secrecy.
Memorial Day weekend will
mark three months. Then you can announce.
Saturday your husband fires
up the barbie and the buddies come over. You have a headache and feel nauseaus,
a bit crampy during the euchre tourney. A backache kicks in while you stand at
the sink after everyone leaves. You swirl water, warm and comforting and think
how nice it would be take a bath, but those are no-nos. Keep your body
temperature from getting too hot. Realize you are grinding your teeth a bit.
The cramps and the back ache may be worse than you’ll admit. Go to bed by ten.
At midnight wake up in waves of cramps, gripping you. Stumble to the bathroom
and push down your panties. You already feel the damp, and in the dark – you
kept the light off afraid too look but knowing you could reach over and flip
the switch in your small bathroom – you smell the iron. Warm blood. Lay your
head down on the cool sink. Sit on the toilet. There will be a crick in your
spine but you’ll not know the difference. Cry.
Mewl. Heave. He comes to you
and rubs your back and sits on the side of the tub. This is your funeral parlor.
It will take days for the cramping and bleeding to subside. Doctors will kneed
and prod and stroke. They offer options, discuss a dialation and cutelage if it
doesn’t bleed out fully. An ultrasound to confirm. Your mom comes to you. She massages your back.
Strange that it feels like she’s helping this baby spontaneously abort, commit
its own leap from the ledge, but really, your mother wants only to ease your
pain, soothe your nerves and minister.
Every clump could be your
baby, the size of dime, with fingers and toes and a beating heart. You would
like to bury your baby. Do you save pads, clumps of toilet paper, do you dare
evacuate your bladder. There’s no proof there, except blood, blood, blood.
Tears. No tears. Numb. Crushed. Grief. This is how you lose a baby