Wishbone

There is a space right in the center of a woman’s breast,
stretching between her waiting arms,

that craves a baby. It aches to be filled with the
soft bounce of new flesh, the warmth of new life.

It was here that I felt the wishbone break and
suddenly Thanksgiving was over. Celebration was

tossed aside as I snapped apart and became empty.
The hollow of the marrow leaked a plague stain –

bright red between my thighs. The world was silent
noise, all scurrying and rushed, while whispers passed

and the nurse stepped back as I shattered on her table.
She said, “There is no heartbeat.” and I thought instantly

of a washing machine – the steady thwump, thwump, thwump,
and knew that someone had turned it off.

Someone had snapped the wishbone and I was all
hollow marrow and no heartbeat.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


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Heartbeat

heartbeat

We expect so much from our bodies. I mean, if I get sick, I expect my body to do its part in fighting off the germ that’s invaded it. I expect my lungs to suck in and breathe without me consciously thinking about it. I expect my skin to stay in place as long as I’m careful not to peel it off by running into sharp objects or tripping down stairs. I expect my heart to beat.

I expect a heartbeat.

As a woman I expect even more. I expected, as a teenager, that at some point I might actually grow a pair of boobs. I expect that once a month I’ll turn into the poster child for every man’s idea of PMS. I expect these things because of my sex. Because I’m a woman. Because that’s how women are made.

I expect to be a partner in the creation of life. I expect to provide a safe, nurturing environment for that baby to grow. I expect to be capable of carrying a child. Because I’m a woman, and women get pregnant and have babies.

Logic has nothing to do with expectations. Not one damn thing. The fact that there are women who physically will never be able to become pregnant is irrelevant…because at some point they had these same exact expectations. The fact that there are women who have lost every child they carried does not matter here…because they carried the same beliefs and confidence in their body at some point.

We expect from our bodies.

I expect a heartbeat.

And so when our body fails us, and when something deviants from the “plan” we had in mind, it becomes difficult not to blame the machine. Logic takes another back seat. Common sense goes out the window, and you’re left in a hospital gown, in a tiny room that every one keeps using as a storage closet, with your underwear around your ankles and hands all over you as you are poked and prodded and stuck and photographed in the most invasive of ways just so five hours later the doctor can come in and tell you

There’s no heartbeat.

And so they give you shots and lists of things to do and everyone keeps giving you the mantra:

It happened early…there was probably something wrong with the development.

It’s nothing you did.

It’s not your fault.

You can try again.

And I listen to their chorus of logic and common sense as I watch the man, the protector in my life, the one who is always there to fix everything, and I watch as he realizes he can’t fix it and he can’t make it better and he can’t protect me because it’s in my body

And there’s no heartbeat.

I have to watch everything else break around me and everyone keeps asking:

How is she?

How are they doing?

What’d the doctor say?

I can answer that. She’s in pain, physical pain. She’s in the middle of a process that can last for weeks and it hurts. As if the mind needs to be challenged further, the body must prove its endurance to pain. They? They, as in my husband and I? We’re hurt. We’re dodging people and making each other laugh, because that’s what we do. We laugh to cover it up and we mourn when its dark and no one is around to hear us. What’d the doctor say?

There’s no heartbeat.

We expect so much from our bodies, and when it fails us it becomes the traitor. It becomes this thing we are fighting against.We let in a little hope to strengthen our resolve and then battle against something we can’t even begin to understand because logic is gone and hope can be false. It can be cruel. It can show up when the woman refuses to turn to the screen and show you the picture. When she ignores your questions even though you’re lying there naked save for a thin little blanket while she pushes a machine inside you. Hope is there telling you its okay. It’s there when the doctor comes in and she was so friendly before and she thought she saw it. She thought she saw the flutter but she wasn’t sure and she asked for more tests and she sent you to that bitch who wouldn’t answer you questions…and hope was there right up until she said it and you knew it was over.

And you knew the world shifted because he couldn’t even stand up.

And there was no heartbeat.