I don't like writing these things. I keep putting it off. But, sometimes the grief is too much to bear. And so here I am. Because I know I will be comforted when I do. Writing does that. Sharing does that. Being real does that.
It happened again. I don't know why, but God...it happened again.
And so I talk to the Lion who listens to all of us.
I am not thinking about You when I take the elevator to the 2nd floor. There is a maintenance guy working on the digital directory. I panic a little, and then I find myself hoping (and remembering a little) that the 2nd floor is where I want to be. There is a guy in the elevator and we talk about how we hope that we are going in the right direction, that we'll be in the right place at the end. And so we ride the machine and exit when the doors open and we walk together to the same place. "I guess it's the same place!" he says, and we chuckle like strangers do when things are awkward. He doesn't have a woman with him. It's the OB offices. I wonder what he has come for, if not with a woman.
I am not thinking about You when I check in. I use the bathroom as instructed. I wait. I text. I'm called in. And then I wait again. The friendly nurse...Michelle is her name...begins it.
I am not thinking about You as I sit at the end of that clinical table. I am too busy thinking about the scenarios. I am thinking: "This can't be happening, not for real. I'm getting too emotional about something that is normal. They say the baby is tiny right now, so it makes sense to need an ultrasound to hear the heartbeat. Doesn't it?" Michelle doesn't look convinced, but she keeps apologizing anyway when she can't find the heart beat with the Doppler. Why is she apologizing? It isn't her fault.
I start to think about You a little when I use the bathroom before the ultrasound. I always have to use the bathroom before my ultrasounds. I'm never far enough along for them to do it the "normal" way. The babies are always too little, there is always a concern too early, they always have to use the stick. I forget they do it any other way. But, I think about You a little when I start to pray. I pray out of panic. Not because I care in that moment what You think, or even that I care that You are listening. Because that's what I do when I'm scared sometimes. I remember You, and then...no I don't want to look at You. Go away.
I'm in a different room now. I'm not paying any attention to You when they look at the screen. You are there. I can feel it. And I can't afford that. If I invest in acknowledging that You are here, right now, I will be spent. And I will have nothing left to give.
And then, right away and too fast and without waiting for me to wonder, the doctor shakes her head...
No, slow down.
"I'm sorry, Sarah, I just don't see a baby."
My ears are ringing. Of course you don't.
I can't cry. I am too embarrassed. It feels like my fault. It's like I came in to have an ultrasound without a right to it, like I asked permission to play or something. It was like I was pretending to be pregnant. Why? The heartbeat was there before. Everything looked perfect before. Was it a trick at six weeks? I'm not an idiot!
Now I see You. You come bounding in and Your giant body makes me want to curl up like a fetus, curl up like a newborn, curl up like the people who die after a long and healthy life. I don't know how You fit into that little room, and I'm a little surprised to see You now. I suppose at some point I invited You in...maybe You came in because I invited You...but that feels like a long, long time ago. You know, in those moments when we say, "Help me," or "I'm afraid," or "Let's try to have a baby." Because, why not? You'll bless it. Right? If we want it? We are so foolish to think that You come only when invited. Because sometimes You don't wait for that. You know that we can't afford to wait for that.
Now You're large, giant belly is resting on the floor. Your enormous head fills the space above my bed, and Your tail brushes against the stirrups. Your shadow makes the floor glow. It's like darkness isn't allowed in Your shadow...your shadow is too bright for that. And Your face...well, it's too close and I'm afraid I'll forget that You are scary. It's too close to me, as if You want to eat me and swallow me and digest the badness that is in me...for me. Don't try, I promise...I promise it'll make you sick.
Because I hate You right now, and we aren't supposed to hate You.
Right? I do.
And then You step forward as if You are eager to take me up. There is a rumble that starts in You now. Like a distant volcano or a nearby avalanche or a present prairie thunderstorm. You are full of nature, full of creation, full of life. And with the kindest eyes, You show me what those destructive things can do. And I want to cry out: take these scary things away!
"Don't hurt me anymore," I whisper. I plead. But really, the plea is screaming inside me...like the lava waiting to get out. I can hear it in my head. I don't want to see that destruction anymore. It is too much. It's too much. It hurts more than it should. It kills and quakes and washes away...and then the heat turns cool.
And then You sit. Like a kitten. And You blink. I blink.
No, You look too safe. I am too scared to crawl under Your belly and away from that bed with my back to the empty sonogram picture and the very sad doctor. I'm too scared to go there because I will lose control in front of the professionals and I will look like a child and I will cry like a baby who needs somebody.
But You won't go away. And You sit. The volcano erupts, the avalanche spills, the thunderstorm rains. It rains. And I smell the grass.
All right, then...what do You want from me? You want me to look at You? Here. I'll look at You. I'll even give You the question because I know You're just waiting for it: what did You do? Did You lick it up? With Your giant tongue did You go inside my belly and lick up the life that You created there? Why? Why did you do that again?
You lick my toes and there is a pleading whine in your throat. Go away.
But now I'm thinking about You, and I can't stop. It seems as if the doctor and the nurse are going in and out, in and out of the room again, but I don't know why. I don't know anything, not anymore. I can't feel anything. I can't think. They talk about molar pregnancies and cancer and D&Cs. The technician doesn't even look at me when she nods at the screen. They hurry around, apologizing for something they didn't do. Stop apologizing for something you didn't do!
But YOU...YOU apologize for what You did! Please. Please. Please...tell me You did it on purpose. That You have a purpose. And that the purpose isn't for me to just "be an example" to somebody else. Because I'm tired of making babies for heaven. I'm tired of being a hero. I'm tired of being brave.
The room is empty now. It's quiet. There is no hum of a fetal monitor. There is no computer fan. There is no air conditioning or music or ringing phones, just a hum. And You are still here. You sit at the end of my bare legs, staring at me and blinking and challenging me...like You know I want to spring up and tear You apart. But I know what'll happen. You'll catch me and pin me down. You'll hold Your lips close to mine and whisper, "You are mine."
And I'll fight it. I dare you. Just try it. Just do it. And...
Suddenly, Your Spirit moves and I see something. Not visibly with my eyes, not a vision like many people would think...no, not that. Not a vision. But, Your Spirit doesn't always work that way. No, You are showing me something else. And the room is full of giant, strong people. It is an army of yours. And they bow their heads. And they wait.
That's all. But, their wings move a little.
The doctor comes back and she has a lot of information for me to process. She apologizes again, and then she hugs me. Your giant lion face leans in and Your Spirit whispers in my ear as a growl rumbles behind your teeth, "Hug her, Sarah."
And I do. And I finally cry. And I cry out, "Four!" And she says, "I know." And I say, "How am I supposed to tell my children?" And she says, "Tell them that they will see that baby in heaven."
The angels look up and I catch one looking at me. A male.
And then everything moves. The nurse leads me out the back way. I hold the chromosomal testing kit under my arm. It'll be needed for the D&C, if I choose to "know" if my husband and I are compatible. The nurse leads me through a dark hallway and out a door and away from the mothers and bellies. I walk to the elevator.
There is no man in the hallway this time. Just me. And You. And I stop in front of the elevator.
I know what's on the other side of those doors: extreme sadness, days and months of watching others having their babies and reaching their due dates and suckling their newborns...and many more moments where I have to smile and have conversations in which I really do have to convince friends and sisters that I want to hold their babies and that they should let me because it's the only way I can heal...months of that. And then September. Another due date and no baby. Just work.
I walk into the elevator now, and of course it's full of people. Too many busy people. And somehow You manage to fit! I don't get it. I never will. You are huge. You are too big for things like this, and You fit. I can feel Your breath, hear Your rumbles, and I can sense Your giant face at my back. I have to be brave. But I can't be. So just do it for me, because You owe me that. You promised You would. So just do it.
I finally get out of the elevator. And I walk away from the elevator with people at my back. And I am overwhelmed. You walk beside me now. My hands grapple at You and I'm gripping so hard and I grab Your fur, because if I don't I will fall into nothingness. I'm holding on to You, but You want to run. I can tell, because You want to pull me out the massive front doors and into the sunshine. But You don't want to run the way I do. Not the way I do. You want to run and leap and chase me to my pain so that I'll deal with it, like chasing me to the volcano where I will get burned away, like chasing me to the avalanche where everything dirty will get buried deep, like chasing me to the prairie thunderstorm where I will get rained on and washed and clean. But You hold yourself in check, because you know I'm not ready for that...and You walk. And You lead me through those doors and out into the hot parking lot and into my van. And then You crawl into the space beside me while I cry and sob over that steering wheel. I've been here before. It's the same old thing. I have to go tell my husband.
And then we drive together. Through the town. Up and down the hills. Under the sun. The light of the day blinds me. And I desperately tilt my head towards You because it's the only way I know how to show you how much I need Your face.
Elevators are scary now. But they are only elevators. You are scary, too. And You are everything. And I will cling and cry and crave your healing. Because for the fourth time You have called me to Yourself.
And I will come running.